Bringing up a child is no easy task, but for parents of children with disabilities and/or special needs, it can be even more difficult. Children with special needs will often require extra attention and specialized care; in some severe cases, the parent will even need to consider quitting work in order to become a full-time caregiver for their little one. Whilst, of course, you will always want the best for your child and strive to give them the best quality of life possible, looking after a child with special needs can quickly take its toll on the parent, leading to heightened stress levels, and even health problems as a result. So, we’ve listed some top tips to help parents of children with disabilities and special needs improve their strength and resilience with this often difficult commitment.
1. Get the Right Support
Looking after a child with a learning difficulty or disability can quickly become very isolating and lonely, especially for single parents. When you have a child who cannot be left alone or with a regular babysitter, for example, it can be very difficult to have a social life at all. Support services such as Hope Grows are specially designed for caregivers. Here, you can find a friendly, relaxed environment where you can meet others in similar situations and receive support, counseling, and a much-needed respite from your duties.
2. Care for Your Physical Health
When you are the full-time caregiver for a child with a disability, looking after your own fitness and health can quickly go out of the window. When you are pre-occupied with making sure that your little one is comfortable and has everything that they need, it’s understandable that you may not have the time to go to the gym or take a run. However, there are many reasons to try and incorporate exercise into your day; even if just for 10-30 minutes at a time. Exercise DVDs and home gym machines will make it much easier for you to do this. Or, if possible, you could even include your child in light exercise such as swimming or walking, which can help to improve their own health.
3. Take Some ‘Me’ Time
Although caring for a disabled child or a child with learning difficulties can be very demanding, it’s definitely not selfish to take some regular time for yourself. By allocating just 10-15 minutes per day for you to have some ‘me’ time, you’ll be able to recharge your batteries and feel stronger and more able to take on the tasks ahead. On the other hand, constantly putting yourself last, which many parents of disabled children do, could lead to you burning out and not having the strength to care for your child in the way that you would like. If you find it difficult to get somebody to take over whilst you take some time for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask friends or relatives to help – most will be more than willing.
Are you a caregiver for a disabled child?
How do you look after yourself?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments