Parenting is definitely not an easy task. Parents try to do anything and everything for their children, putting their needs and comfort aside. As a parent of a child with Autism, parenting can be even more difficult and exhaustive as it may sometimes get difficult to understand the child’s needs, wants and the reason behind the tantrums. The stress and anxiety of seeing a child dealing with the disorder add up to it. In such scenarios, it becomes even more important for a parent to invest some time and effort in self-care. You probably would have heard the announcement while flying, “Put on the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on others.” Similarly, unless you aren’t physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, you will not be able to help your child. Here are a few smart and effective self-care ideas that you can practice as a parent of an Autistic child.
- Take care of your nutritional needs
We all know that consuming good nutritional food is the key to a healthy mind and body. Studies suggest that dietary changes can boost up one’s mood. From setting up your child’s breakfast, to making sure that they eat well, preparing them to reach school, scheduling their appointments with the child therapist and discussing his/her special education progress, managing work, and a lot of other tasks, you might find yourself in a fix when it comes to even consider the requisite nutritional needs of yourself. However, take out time and plan your meals in advance. Make sure that you add a lot of fruits, veggies, especially ones that are protein-rich so that you can stay charged up with energy all day long. Also, keep yourself hydrated with juices, smoothies, soups, water, etc.
- Take out time for yourself
As a parent, you might often forget to give time to yourself. It is important to take care of the child and their needs and wants but you also need to take some time out for yourself. This will help you de-stress and you’ll find new motivation and replenish energy to keep moving forward each day. Join a hobby class or pick any small activity that you want to do every day, say, for instance, reading, painting, dancing, playing a sport, gyming, etc. Fix its time when your child goes to school or sleeps or any time in between as per the suitability. Chances are that you will also meet new people doing the activity and find some new friends to interact with and enjoy.
- Practice meditation
Undoubtedly, meditation is a great way to find peace and channel positive energy together. Additionally, it brings calmness and weed out stress and worries from the mind. Start with 5-10 minutes of meditation and slowly extend the time period. Find a quiet corner of your home, preferably a place that gets some fresh air, like a balcony or terrace. Keep your phone, laptop, headphones, and other gadgets away and just try to concentrate on your breathing pattern. You may also use incense candles or put on meditation music.
- Gather a strong support mechanism
Everyone needs a support system that has got your back every time you fall or lose hope. Reach out and find communities and groups of parents who have a special child. You would be able to better relate to their worries and challenges and vice-versa. Also, such a group will be a great medium to exchange information and strategies that might work for your child’s development and growth. You can also ask them for references of good child therapist or special education school near your locality.
- Enjoy the little moments
Running after big milestones, dreams, and goals, we often forget to cherish and celebrate the little moments of happiness and achievement. Start to enjoy every little happy moment with your child as a family together and see it grow. This will also offer a happy environment for your child that would further encourage his/her holistic development. For instance, you could organize a kid’s date to celebrate your child’s newly achieved milestones.
Hopefully, you would find these self-care ideas effective for you and indirectly for your child as well. By practicing self-care as a part of your daily routine, you would witness higher levels of energy, happiness and a positive zeal to work with and for your child’s overall development and growth. Also, remember that you are not alone in this. There are a number of good child therapy centres, special and inclusive schools, child development clinics, etc that can help and guide you with the right treatment for Autism. Providing early intervention to your child will help him/her do better in the longer run. Through a range of therapies like Occupational therapy, play therapy, ABA, Speech and language therapy, and others, your child will learn new skills and ways to live a better independent and happier life to the fullest of their capabilities.