Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lifesavers When Special Needs Parenting is Exhausting

I know as a mom of a child with learning differences, I am often tired. It's a different tired than I felt with young children or on a moving day. Those are physically tiring times. What about the mental and emotional exhaustion that parenting a child with a disability brings? It can be overwhelming! The advocating, therapy appointments, behavior struggles, anxiety(your child's and your own), and stress of dealing with disability day in day out over many years. Sometimes, I had no energy to do anything that was not absolutely necessary.

When I hit this point of exhaustion, I've found a few things that have made a difference. Here are a few.

 

I told my husband I need him to relieve me of the care for a short time. I rarely asked but when I did my husband knew that I really needed it. I remember my son's second grade year. By the first of May, I could not handle any more advocating and going to school for all the end of the year field trips and activities. There were so many changes to my son's schedule and he struggled with them. I felt like I needed to be done with the stress of school. My husband helped by rearranging his schedule and attending many special events that spring to allow me some rest.

Friends of ours helped my husband and I to get away together by taking care of our children. It is amazing what a few days without parenting responsibilities did to rejuvenate me and renew my energy.

Friends who "get it" were a lifesaver. Just sharing the struggle of everyday ups and downs with another mom who dealt with similar issues, made a huge difference. Feeling understood was so important. It provided a place which normalized my experience. A friend who lived a similar life provided a respite. Laughter and tears that lowered stress and bonded me to another mom. Friendship was so essential.

Exercise lowers stress. I walked with a friend as often as possible. We walked and talked, outside and at a local mall, depending on the weather. It was another way of reducing my stress and increasing emotional energy.

Prayer and reading the Bible filled me up in ways nothing else could. God met me so many times and renewed me with strength and energy.

Find an escape. For me, I love mysteries, especially old tv shows. I have found a few newer ones. It is something that I can get "lost in" for an hour. I have found this hour "vacation" really helps me.

Parenting a child with learning differences is hard, sometimes really hard. It depletes a person at times but there are ways to replenish. Let me know if you have found other ways to recharge. It can be done but it takes effort.