Self-Care as a Special Needs Mom

I took a vow in January to devote more time to self-care and I challenged others to do the same. We started off the year pretty strong but I feel like, summer came and my self care habits left.  Anyone else?

This summer was probably my toughest summer yet as a mom of a child with special needs.  Having Stella home all summer long, meant that my attention was spent on her, all summer long!  My old tricks of putting a movie on or giving her her iPad so that I could get something done, didn’t work this summer. She had other plans, and they involved me playing with her constantly or her getting into everything she was not suppose to.  Therefore, my self-care time was extra tough to squeeze in.

What worked for me

One thing that did remain constant for me, at least during the week, was waking up before my kiddos. I’ve stated many times that I am NOT a morning person but I have learned to love that morning time before the kids wake up. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, it’s enough time to enjoy my coffee and focus on just me, before dealing with the chaos that is my life.  If you do nothing else for yourself, I highly encourage you to take this time to start your day off right.  It will completely transform your days!

The second thing that I have continued to do and that I highly recommend to other mommas, is taking time to move your body.  Being a special needs parent can be exhausting both mentally and physically.  It can cause anxiety, stress and overwhelm.  One of the best and healthiest ways to overcome those feelings is with exercise. You don’t need to go out and run a marathon (more power to you if that’s your choice), or spend hours at the gym.  But what you do need, what your body and mind need is some type of exercise.  This could be as simple as going for a walk or doing 20 minutes of yoga.

Exercise is such a great natural way to produce endorphins.  You know those chemicals in the brain that can act like natural pain killers, help with sleep and reduce stress.  Yea, those!  Even a 10 minute brisk walk can help provide a few hours of decreased tension.  And a bonus, is that when we exercise, it actually helps to improve our self esteem.  I’m sure most of us could use that boost.

Finding time

I know, I know!  You’re busy and you don’t have time!  Girl, I get it!  I’m not asking you to spend a ton of time on yourself.  But I’m telling you that it is necessary for you to spend SOME time on yourself.  Self-care will make you a better mother, wife, friend, person.  As a mom of a child with Down Syndrome that requires a lot of my time and attention-even when she’s not with me,  I’m telling you, you NEED this.  So, I’m going to make it easy for you by giving you these 2 very small steps to begin with.

Wake up first

I don’t care what time you have to get up in the morning (I get up at 5:00 and have gotten up as early as 4:00), you must wake up at least a half an hour before your kiddos.  Turn off your Netflix at night and go to bed early.  No one will judge you for leaving dishes in the sink or having a messy house- just go to bed early.

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, check your social media first thing in the morning!  That is not how you want to start your day.  Instead, focus solely on you during this time.  Here’s what my routine looks like:

  1. Wake up
  2. Fix coffee
  3. Sit in my chair and meditate for about 10 minutes (I listen to Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton or the Calm app)
  4. Pray or write in gratitude journal
  5. Read or listen to Personal development

If you do this everyday, I promise you that it will completey transform your days.  Taking this time for you and to count your blessings and just breathe, will be a game changer.  Don’t make me beg you, just please give it a try and see for yourself.

Exercise

I exercise at a minimum of 4 days a week, no matter what!  Sometimes that means that my daughter is on my back while I’m planking.  There are times when my workouts are interrupted so that I can give her another snack or change her movie.  I typically try to get my workout in before she wakes up but that’s just not always the case.

Working out with kiddos

My workouts are typically about 30 minutes and involve cardio and weight training.  Just enough time to get my endorphins moving and burn some calories.  I love weight training because it’s imperative to me to be strong for my daughter-physically and mentally.  My workouts challenge my mind and my body.  If you’ve ever had to hold down a child with low muscle tone, who is strong as an ox and limber as a dishrag, you get the importance of being physically strong.  All my workouts are done from home.

All of us momma’s need to take time for self-care!  As a momma of child with special needs, I’ve come to realize just how important that time is.  We spend so much time and energy focused on our children.  Even when they are not with us, we are worrying, over analyzing, trying to plan their future, stressing, coordinating therapies and doctor’s appointments – constantly.  As busy as we all are, it’s necessary for us to take some time each day, to spend on us so that we can be the best version for them.