First, let me start by telling you that as a mother, you don’t just deserve “me” time — you need it. And I know what you’re thinking, that it’s much easier said than done, but if you don’t do your best to honor your personal needs, you are headed for burnout. Particularly if you’re raising a child with special needs.
I’ve been there, done that, and believe me, I understand your anxiety and your determination to stay ready and alert to meet your child’s every need. As the mother of two children with special needs, I know the feeling of exasperation when things don’t turn out as expected all too well; but I’ve also personally experienced the ecstasy that achieving a goal produces in us. It’s an intense combination of feelings that keeps us in the front seat of a roller coaster of emotions — one that we learn to love and maintain under control to best serve out children with special needs.
But despite all of the “super powers” that we gain over the years as we grow in our roles as mothers, we are no super heroes. We are just devoted moms who deal with the unexpected with pride and bravery. We are mere human beings, who (just like everyone else) need rest, support, and a big bowl of chocolate ice cream in bed from time to time.
So how exactly do you actually get the “me” time in?
1. Accept your humanity.
First things first: Save the superhero cape for special moments when it’s needed most and the rest of the time, recharge your body and your soul. Tell yourself that it’s okay to take time for you, and make it more top-of-mind to do so.
2. Allow yourself to do nothing for a change.
The more overwhelmed we are, the more things we want to achieve in order to prove others wrong. At the end of the day though, this is only about you, just you, and no one else, because you are the one setting your own limits! If you’re going through a tough time, or have just been through one, please don’t dedicate yourself to cleaning the house or slaving over laundry. Take a day off. Do nothing. It may sound like a waste of time, but tomorrow you’ll feel like a million bucks and be able to achieve even more. Trust me.
3. Avoid the need to impress.
Many times as mothers, we have this tendency to pretend that we are perfect, or to endlessly strive to be perfect. Remember, at the end of the day, there is no need to impress anyone but yourself. There is no need for pressure. Everything you do, do it for yourself and the ones you love. No one else matters.
4. Use the words “no” and “yes” correctly.
Say “yes” to accept help and support. Say “no” to nonsensical extra stuff. Yes! You’ll benefit from a couple of hours to yourself. No! Your plate is already full, you don’t need more for now. It’s ok to be a little “selfish” sometimes, and those who really love you will respect and understand your personal situation.
5. Analyze your options.
Many federal agencies offer respite services and Personal Care Assistant support for children with special needs and their families. Your child may qualify. Ask, apply, and advocate for help. You need it.
Above all, your child needs you to be strong, brave, and amazing for many more years to come. Embrace your individuality, learn to trust others, and work hard on creating a support system for you both. Your mind, your body, and your child will appreciate it.