Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself (page 2)
Children with learning disabilities are likely to require significant time, attention, planning and support. Their health, learning and/or social needs are often vast, and parents have to adjust their own lifestyle in order to meet their children's unique needs.
Parents of children with learning disabilities often experience a range of feelings: worry, burden, inadequacy, frustration, and exhaustion (emotional and physical). Over time, juggling these emotions and keeping up with the ever-changing demands of school and home life may bring about depression, isolation, resentment and guilt. Parents may find it inconceivable, or even unacceptable, to take the time to attend to their own well-being.
While there is no magic cure to relieve some of the realities of having a child who requires significant attention, taking time for yourself does help. A good place to start is for couples to talk with each other about their own needs and then to develop ways to re-energize, both as individuals and as a couple.
Here are some ideas:
- Block out non-negotiable time for you and your spouse on your calendar. Go out on dates together. Try something interesting, novel and fun.
- Let go of the notion you have to do it all by yourself. Ask for help from family and friends.
- Identify stressors that might be extraneous and pinpoint the specific things that contribute most to depleting your energy.
- Practice saying "no" on occasion.
- Learn to share responsibility with your spouse.
- Find professionals who work respectfully with you.
- Network with parents whose children are older and have similar profiles to learn what lies ahead. Ask about their coping strategies and techniques.
- Develop a relationship with a sitter whom you can trust, and who can be trained to work with your child.
- Find a form of exercise you like to do and designate time for it as often as you can.
- Meditate and/or learn relaxation techniques.
- Start or join a book club, support or discussion group.
- Attend the theatre, lectures, movies, music and/ sporting events.
- Get good rest, including power naps.
By taking the time to address your own needs, you will have more energy, patience and perspective when interacting with your child. You might also discover that you cope more effectively during times of stress and that you are less prone to experience burnout. You deserve to claim time and space for yourself, and doing so will likely improve the quality of your relationships with your child, family and friends
Adapted from NCLD’s March 2004 LD News article “Are You Recharging Yourself?” written by Jenny Frank, CSW, and Roberta Omin, CSW-R.
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Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2009 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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