When you are the mother of a child with special or additional needs, it’s easy to judge your own parenting skills at a much higher level.
You are no doubt doing your best, but sometimes you feel that is not enough. Every aspect of parenting is amplified, and everything needs to be planned, organised and calculated. For those times when you feel overwhelmed, here are a few suggestions that may be of benefit to you:
Continue to Reflect
It’s easy to get caught up in feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and despair. Worry is your constant companion! That’s normal. But also remember to appreciate the unique beauty within your child, and acknowledge their progression. Write a list of the improvements they have made in the last year – habits they broke, new skills, and improved abilities. You’ll be surprised!
Embrace Your Feelings
It’s okay to sometimes feel a bit resentful of other mums, and what you perceive as their much ‘easier’ life. It’s normal to feel envious when you see them collecting their children from school without apprehension, taking them to team sports or social activities; while you head to your child’s therapy sessions. These feelings are all totally normal. Accept them, but don’t let them consume you. Join support groups. Talk to other mums with special needs children, as sometimes you need the support of people who just ‘get it.’
Nurture Your Relationship with Siblings
Special needs siblings are the unsung heroes, and deserve your time and undivided attention. Take siblings on individual ‘dates,’ such as bowling, painting or the movies. You’ll both enjoy the relaxed one-on-one time. It’s okay to occasionally take your special needs child out of the equation, and enjoy things that can sometimes be difficult or stressful with them there.
Take Time Out for Yourself
Parenting is busy. School runs, activities, meals, uniforms, homework, household chores, administration … you know the drill. Now incorporate therapy appointments, consultations, doctor visits, school meetings, research, tests …. as well as the expectation to be a good mother, wife, daughter and friend. You were not gifted with extra hours each day, and it’s no wonder you feel exhausted. It’s important to schedule yourself some well-deserved ‘me time.’
Let Things Go
The best thing you can do is to accept that life with a special needs child will not be one of constant, continual progression. Expect more of a rollercoaster type of arrangement, if you will! Steady climbs, exhilaration and expectation …. then a downhill run. A twist here, a turn there, followed by a slow, steady uphill rise again. Don’t overanalyze every single thing. Put some days behind you. You’re doing the best you can, and tomorrow is another day.
Overall, remind yourself that you have the power to make your child feel safe, happy and loved. It can be hard, it can be unfair, but it can also be beautiful and rewarding. You’re doing an amazing job!