When we assist families with planning for their children’s financial futures, we at Milestone Consulting build relationships that last for years and for lifetimes. As a result, our team witnesses the ups and downs many of our clients experience in other areas of their lives. For example, we have seen that for parents caring for special needs kids, there is a major shortage of time dedicated to caring for themselves physically and/or emotionally.
Naturally, it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs as you provide complex, specialized and often round-the-clock care for your child. However, moments to recharge are an absolute necessity for many reasons.
“Carve out even just 15 minutes every day or so to do something that is relaxing,” Mandi Silverman, Psy.D., clinical psychologist at the ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, told ParentMap. “Whether it’s reading a magazine, having a cup of favorite coffee [or] tea or talking on the phone to a friend, it’s super important that parents have a ‘me moment’ in order to recharge, reset and rally for the next challenges.”
An article for L.A. Parent agrees that for a parent of kids with special needs, “me” time is a must. While most parents are short on time, the article recommends three simple steps to carving out time during even the busiest of schedules.
- Reclaim lost time. Get creative with finding time for yourself. Even if that time only happens while waiting for your child to finish therapy, taking a moment alone can be meditative.
- Don’t overdo it. Start small as you build better habits, rather than trying to transform immediately. Whether it’s making time to exercise, eating better, or picking up a hobby, setting reasonable goals gives you a better chance to succeed.
- Be consistent. Create a regular pattern of these small things that help you take care of yourself, and stick to the plan as much as you can. If you lose track, just pick up where you left off.
Blogger Eliana Tardio, a mother of children with special needs, explains that as a parent, “…you not only deserve, but you need ‘me’ time.” To get that time regularly, she says that parents have to first remember to hang up the “super-hero cape” until it’s really needed, and the rest of the time, make space to recharge their body and soul.
Tardio also reminds parents that it’s OK to take a day off and do nothing. “If you are or you’ve been through tough times lately, please don’t dedicate yourself to cleaning the house or slaving over laundry,” she writes. “Take a day off. Do nothing. It sounds like a waste of time but tomorrow you’ll feel like a million bucks and you’ll be able to achieve even more.” Tardio urges parents to avoid the need to impress others or pretend to be perfect, and to know when to say yes to offers of help and support. “Yes, it’s ok to be selfish,” she says, “and those who really love you will respect and understand your personal situation.”
As a parent, caring for yourself is not just a necessity for your own health and well-being. Taking a little time to yourself to recharge will also help you be a great parent now and in the future.
About the Author
If you’re a parent with a special needs child, you likely questions about planning for his or her future. John Bair can help. He is an experienced settlement planner and financial consultant. He helps families develop strategies to provide lifelong financial support for children with disabilities, catastrophic injuries, special needs, and congenital abnormalities. Read more about John’s work and his firm, Milestone Consulting, at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).