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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents with Special Needs Children

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Parenting is a challenging job. Any parent will tell you that trying to manage work, child care, money, a home, and relationships can be exhausting. When a family has a special needs child, parents are especially susceptible to burnout and feeling overwhelmed. This new year, resolve to caretake the caretakers. These five resolutions will get you started on the right path!

Practice self compassion. Don’t forget that life is full of ups and downs. You may feel like you are conquering lots of challenges one day and feel emotionally depleted the next. Just when you think that you’re in the home stretch, life throws another curve ball! Allow these tough days into your life with grace and compassion. Support yourself. Acknowledge that you are having a hard day or a hard week, and let that be ok. During those tough times, do something special for yourself. Get yourself a favorite coffee drink, go for a walk, take a nap, or call a close friend. Find support and be gentle and kind to yourself. The tough times will pass and a brighter day is on the horizon!

Keep a gratitude journal. When we are caught up in the mantra, “Why me?” we often forget to be grateful. Every day, think of five or more things that you are thankful for, and write them down. There are some wonderful gratitude journal apps for mobile phones, or buy yourself a special notebook and create a paper-and-pen journal. You’ll find that it’s hard to hold on to negativity when you’re feeling grateful!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Parents of special needs kids are so used to giving that they sometimes forget what it feels like to receive. You can’t be a good caregiver if you’re negative, burned out, stressed, or overwhelmed. Ask a friend to pick up a few groceries for you. Find some respite care for your child so you can get out for a bit. Get in the habit of saying “yes” more often when someone asks if you need help!

Surround yourself with a support system. Even if you have a two parent family, care giving a child with special needs can become overwhelming. Make sure to tap into friends and family for support. Whether it’s a phone call, a dinner out or inviting someone over to share a meal, keep supportive people close. And if you don’t have many friends or family in your area, try to find a parenting support group or family counselor as part of your network.

Laugh. Laughter can change a person’s perspective and lighten a mood! Laughter is truly therapeutic and can actually lower blood pressure and relieve stress. Laugh with friends and family. Laugh with your kids. Watch funny movies and shows. Read joke books and funny stories. Play fun family games that get you laughing. Not only will you be a wonderful influence on your kids, but you will feel a whole lot better!

For more stress management tips, read our article on Stress Managment for Parents and Caregivers