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Parenting is always going to be a challenge, but when your kids are so dependent on you for support, it can be difficult to take care of yourself as well. Part of this is inevitable if illogical, guilt you feel when you leave them with a sitter but it is also strange to think of yourself when you spend so much time thinking of others.
All parents deserve some time to themselves and when you think about it, looking after your own health is the best way to ensure continued care for your kids. With this in mind, here are a few things that you should keep an eye on and a few ideas for getting some “me time” when you need.
Combatting Tiredness and Avoiding Fatigue
Looking after your kids takes a lot of time and effort so it is natural that you will have days where you are feeling tired and worn out. Though this is okay every now and then, if you find that you are feeling tired more and more often, you should go and see a medical professional. If there are thyroid doctors in the area, they could be a good first stop as hypothyroidism is a common cause of tiredness and fatigue. While it is not difficult to treat, it can have a significant impact on your life while left untreated.
Fatigue is another condition to watch out for as it may mean that you are over stressing yourself and need to take some time to recover. Fatigue is a symptom of many things but the best thing you can do is to slow down and take your time. This is easier said than done with your kids needing so much attention so try to explain to them what is going on if you can. Otherwise, it might be worth taking turns with your spouse or getting home help while you get better.
If you can, avoiding tiredness is often about more than getting the right amount of sleep. Putting the hours in is a good start, but they need to be quality hours of sleep to really impact you. Optimizing your bedroom for sleep is a real no-brainer and blackout curtains, a comfortable mattress, and light, layered bedding will all help you to get some great sleep and wake up refreshed.
Finding Time For Yourself: Building a Support Network
All parents need some time off but when your kids are so dependent, getting more than an hour or two is a challenge, to say the least! But, getting some significant time together as a couple is vital for the health of your marriage as well as reducing your own stress. This means that you need to create a support network you can rely on.
Family friends are often the first people we turn to for help and if you can foster good relationships between them and your kids you will be onto a winner. If your children have separation anxiety, try slowly increasing the amount of time you spend apart over a longer period. You might start with just a few minutes but gradually building up, you might take a few months, but a full evening out is on the horizon! Remember: patience is a virtue.
If your children can be left a little longer, there are specialist camps that you might like to try. At these camps, your kids will be well looked after and given plenty of things to do while you can go on your own holiday or even have a staycation for the ultimate in low-effort relaxation. This is also a good option if you aren’t sure how your child will react to going to camp as it will mean that you can go and collect them if it’s really not right for them.
However hard it is, to begin with, finding other people who can take care of your children for short periods of time will help you to rediscover time for yourself. Even if you just want to have an hour in a candle-lit bath with a good book, having someone else to keep an eye out can be a real lifesaver. The sooner you build your support network, the better.
Healthy Eating For All the Family
Many children with autism are really fussy eaters. It might be that they will only eat certain foods or perhaps they worry about different tastes or textures. This is a really common problem for families because it makes meal times all the harder and with several children, you can end up eating the same things over and over again. Another problem is that cooking from scratch takes a lot of time that, quite frankly, you don’t have.
Trying to eat healthily is paramount for staying nice and healthy but when you are tight on time, you need to have some tricks up your sleeve. One ideal trick is batch cooking. For example, if you are making a bolognese sauce, rather than making enough for the family, make enough for several meals and then pop individual portions in the freezer. This is ideal for times when you need something healthy and delicious in no time at all.
If you want to encourage your fussy eaters to try new things, often the best way is to put a small portion on a plate with their favorite things. Whatever you do, don’t put any pressure on or start arguments about food. This way they aren’t overwhelmed by the new food and can try it at their leisure. Just as you need to create a support network so that you can have time for yourself, the more you can do to broaden your kids’ taste, the easier meal times will get.
When you spend all your time thinking about your kids, it is easy to live in the moment and just go day by day hoping for the best. While this is okay for a while, getting into good habits such as proper sleep, building a support network and eating healthily will all make a huge difference to your lifestyle and happiness.