So, let’s talk about self care. Do you think it is selfish? Do you do it?
Questions, questions, questions……….. I think we all know that it is important.
For any Mom’s out there, it’s difficult for sure. If you are an autism Mom, times that by 1000. That’s right. It’s just that much more difficult when you have children on the spectrum – your time is not your own.
For years, honestly, I did absolutely nothing for myself. At the end of the day, I fell into my bed exhausted just hoping I would get a little sleep before one of them woke up.
The days were long and sometimes the nights were even longer. When our children were younger, my husband sometimes travelled for long periods of time, which left me alone to handle all of the household chores as well as the kids. Coffee was my best friend and sometimes the TV was a good babysitter (yes I said it and we all know that at times it’s what we have to do).
As our kids grew, some of the challenges associated with autism became harder. It was always (and still is) hard to navigate the school system – constantly communicating, constant meetings, constant things they did wrong. It was mentally exhausting every day. To top it all off, add all the therapy as well as specialized learning and professionals trying to help you – people in and out of your house constantly. Was it realistic to think or even want to take care of myself?
In our home, we had therapists in our house for 7 days a week for over three years plus. I had no time for many friends and other social things got pushed to the side.
But what I discovered was that by not taking care of myself, I was not helping my family.
It’s actually only recently (in the last 2 years) when I had health issues and was forced to stop that I even thought about myself and I’m not proud of this. I wish I had paid attention sooner.
Now, my days are quite different. Even though the demands of autism are demanding, every morning before I eat breakfast I get in a short workout. I also have my fitbit so I am conscious about how far I am walking each day. In the winter I will also ride the stationary bike inside and in the warm weather I will go for a bike ride. We have a trampoline in the backyard so I will go on there as much as I can with the kids even in the winter!
I also like to enjoy a nice relaxing bath. By doing these things, I not only feel healthier, I feel more energized because I am looking after my health. If I am not healthy and strong, no one will get taken care of and nothing will get done.
These are some of the lessons that I have painfully learned. But we all know that being an autism parent is anything but easy. It’s a journey, one that takes and pulls us in many different directions, tries our patience and leaves us with very little time to ourselves.
But just remember that you are important. Take care of yourself because your family needs you!
Please feel free to share any of your self-care ideas!