It can be really hard.

  • “Teachers are sending out e-learning tasks and the work group chat is buzzing.”

  • “I need to place orders immediately for fresh groceries to re-stock the fridge!!”

  •  “Shanghai schools re-opening date extended.”

  • “How can I survive another day indoors with my kids??”

Yes, with all that is going on, daily updates about the outbreak, toggling between family and work, you’re already doing your best to adjust mentally and emotionally to the situation.

Dear parents, we see you and we hear you… 

Parenting brings many joys, but we know it is hard work. When you’re raising a child with special needs, the level of care and concern is higher, and every aspect of parenting is magnified. 
That is why finding balance and support is critical. 
Taking care of yourself is important.  

What is Self-Care & Why is it important?

“In case of emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first, then put on your child’s.”
You hear this each time you fly. This message rings true as a metaphor for special needs parenting. Take care of yourself, so that you can be there for your child.

Looking after yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary. Knowing and taking care of your own needs will help you to be and feel your best, so you can be the best parent for your child. This includes your psychological, safety, relational, and emotional needs. Self-care is an essential decision affects many other aspects of your life – only by bringing balance and understanding to these areas can you thrive!

10 Tips To Help You Thrive

1 Consciously savor the good moments.
Be intentional about immersing yourself in precious moments each day. Don’t let them fly by! One way to develop more awareness of the enjoyable things that happen is to be fully present. Also, take time at the end of the day to recall positive moments. A grateful heart is a cheerful heart.
2 Motivate, encourage, and celebrate your child. 
Each child is unique. Find out what it is in your child’s strength is and make the best out of it. Take note of your child’s progress and when he or she reaches the next goal – no matter how small – celebrate! 
3 Become a peaceful warrior.
Meditating on the positive makes it easier to cultivate a hopeful mindset. Surround yourself with positive people who can provide encouragement. When a parent has a hopeful and positive attitude, children also learn to be more positive. 
4 Organize but have a plan B. 
It’s true that children with special needs do well with having structured routines. So, it makes sense to have a plan. But, if the day you planned starts to unravel, be open to change. For instance, for a family who plans on visiting an amusement park, could have an alternative plan, in case the park becomes too overwhelming for their child.
5 Develop a sense of humor. 
Sometimes, the best way to get over something is just to laugh over it. Stress decreases when you can laugh even during stressful times.
6 Let yourself truly feel your feelings
Be honest about your feelings. It’s okay to feel: furious, angry, tired, disappointed, sad, guilty, numb, and anything else you choose. Occasionally all we need is a good cry, so open up and let it out. It will probably make you feel better so go for it. Just don’t forget to come out on the other side.
7 Stop and breathe. 
When stress overwhelms and chaos is in full swing, take time to stop and breathe. Focus only on breathing. This slows adrenaline and helps to bring a sense of calm to face the situation.
8 Plan self-care. Take care of yourself.
As said in the beginning, finding time for self-care is not selfish but essential. Taking time to do something you enjoy, or that calms or rejuvenates you, will give you more patience and a refreshed perspective. If you want to be the best parent you can be, you need to allow yourself time to relax and recharge your battery.

Here are some ideas:

  • Give yourself permission to take 5-10 minutes each day strictly for yourself. 
  • Do something that relaxes you (a cup of coffee, read a few pages from an inspirational or funny book, or just sit and do nothing).
  • Use the buddy system…put the kids in their strollers or wheelchairs, buddy up with a friend and take a walk. The kids will benefit from the change of scenery, you’ll feel energized, and the extra support of a friend is always welcome.
  • Swap childcare…this can be for running a few errands or even an afternoon out. Your kids also benefit from socialization with other kids.
  • Exercise…get active!
9 Balanced parenting, not perfect parenting. 
No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. When a mistake is made, first be kind to yourself and use this as an opportunity to model to your children what to do when a mistake is made.
10 Don’t try to do it all by yourself.
Finally, do not try to do it all by yourself. Parenting a child with special needs, is full of challenges, and while you are fully capable of educating your child, there will be times when you need help. Build your support system. Make efforts to build connections. Ask for help when you need help.
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Open up about your challenges and ask for help. Parents could always benefit from more information and additional strategies and there is help out there! ELG’s client service care is always happy to hear from you!

  • Seek out others who have been where you are now.  When you find others who also are walking this path you discover coping strategies, new resources, and support from other parents who “get it.” You will also find out you aren’t the only parent who feels guilty about their child’s extra challenges or frustrated because life is so hard at times. 

  • Stay connected with your spouse.  Express your fears and worry to each other and try to be patient.  You’re in this together so you might as well get along. Make sure to take care of your partnership. Parents who are exhausted tend to forget to work on their relationship, get irritated and fail to communicate well.  

Remember that even when you think you can’t you always can.  

Don’t lose faith in yourself or in your child. This journey isn’t easy but you will be able to do it.  
Remember, you can do this.
Remember, you are not alone.

It’s going to be okay. You will have fun as a family, you will make great memories with your child. Your family is not ordinary, it’s exceptional. And so are you.

Parenting a child with a disability can be a challenge, and often 

those challenges feel like a strong tidal wave coming at us, threatening to 

make us lose our balance, to fall, to give up. But we don’t. We never do.

The love for our children compels us to stand strong against the tide 

crashing against us… So we reach out and hold each other’s hand. 

Because we know together we are stronger, and because we need 

someone to stand with us, we cannot do this alone.

Confessions of a Parent of Kids With Disabilities: the Hard Things by Ellen Stumbo

Make sure to stay tuned to us for more parenting tips and advice. You don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to support you.