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7 Tips for Parental Self-Care: Because Parents Need Special Care, Too

Woman taking time for self-care, relaxing in an armchair and drinking coffee.

Parents! Self-care is so important, especially for parents of children with special needs. We all know it’s easier said than done to actually squeeze it in to our busy, ever-changing lives. Here are some ways to put yourself first even when it seems IMPOSSIBLE:

Parental Self-Care Tip #1: SCHEDULE actual time for yourself

  • Put it in your calendar, no matter how silly it may seem.
  • This can be anything as lavish as booking a 90-minute massage (I wish) to as simple as jotting down “20 minutes of solitary silence” in your calendar. The key is that you STICK TO IT and do so REGULARLY (we suggest at least once a week).

Parental Self-Care Tip #2: SCHEDULE time alone with your partner or other significant person

  • No kids allowed. Adult time only.
  • This can be with your spouse (also crucial for your marital relationship), partner, fiancé, significant other, mom, dad, best friend, aunt, etc.
  • We suggest at least a weekly occurrence of scheduled time with a significant fellow adult in your life.

Parental Self-Care Tip #3: Make lists, accomplish, reward yourself

  • Making an actual physical or digital list of your “to-dos” can be therapeutic within itself.
  • Break down larger, more complex tasks into smaller, easier tasks on your lists.
  • Checking items off a list offers a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity for self-praise and reward.
  • Reward yourself, even if it’s with 5 minutes of alone time, a mom-picked song in the car, or a candy bar.

Parental Self-Care Tip #4: Create boundaries

  • Creating house rules and maintaining consistency will help to maintain a less stressful home environment for YOU (i.e., indoor voices, no throwing balls anywhere besides the basement, no kids in Mom & Dad’s room without permission, etc.)
  • Let others outside your household know your schedule. For example, make it known that you won’t be able to take calls, texts or emails during dinner or bedtime every night.
  • Don’t allow kids’ friends over on certain days or nights when things are hectic for you.

Parental Self-Care Tip #5: Reach out when you are at your limit

  • Nothing is quite like parenting. Children are wonderful, beautiful gifts (most of the time), but sometimes they relentlessly test our patience. This is when it’s time to take a break (if possible) or reach out for help.
  • Help can include: Your spouse, partner, parents or those other significant people we talked about in tip #2.
  • How to know if you need a break or to reach out for a supportive hand:
    • “Losing your cool” or yelling more often than usual or more often than you want to
    • Feeling hopeless, depressed, or not yourself
    • Feeling constantly anxious, keyed-up, or on edge
    • Picking fights with your children or your partner/others
    • You keep getting sick
    • You’re struggling at work or in another setting

Parental Self-Care Tip #6: Realize you’re not alone

  • The feelings (positive & negative) that you experience about being a parent are completely natural.
  • There is another parent out there going through what you are going through (or at least something very similar).
  • Use this forum and website for connection and resources!

Parental Self-Care Tip #7: Come to our Parents’ Night Out!

  • Our recent Parents’ Night Out event was a huge success with $10/hr childcare and 20% off at a local restaurant! Please check back soon for future dates.

 

Feel free to comment below with some of your own helpful tips & tricks for self-care!

Thanks for reading!

 

Antonina Lunetta

MA, LPC, LLPC, IMH-E

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