Diversity and Inclusion

Self-Care for Disability Parents – It Matters!

7 Practical Tips for Prioritizing Self-Care

Often people think that self-care means an hour-long Swedish massage or a weekend away with your girlfriends, but that is not realistic for most of us on a regular basis. Self-care is any behavior that promotes your health and happiness. We try not to over-complicate that idea and focus more on simple things that are easier to incorporate into our lives. Quite honestly, one of our favorite things is a hot cup of coffee with no interruptions, and we enjoy every sip! But here are some of the top ways to incorporate self-care into your life.

1) Establish Realistic Boundaries

Learn to say no and set realistic boundaries. It’s okay to prioritize your well-being and decline additional commitments that may lead to overwhelm.

2) Have Your Own Bedtime Routine

This one might induce an eye roll if you’re a mom of young kids, but this is more about the routine than the length of sleep. Try to get into a habit of going to bed at the same time and add some elements into your bedtime routine that will help you wind down. Just like kids do well with repetitive things before bedtime like story time or music, adults do too! Think about using a relaxing lotion, turning on a meditation, or reading for ten minutes before you turn the lights off. These simple things will quiet down your mind so you can maybe fall asleep faster and get some more quality sleep during the time you have.

3) Commit to a Morning Routine

Again, another hard one with little ones, but this does not have to be complicated or extravagant either. Something as simple as getting up ten minutes early to enjoy your coffee in silence (and hot!) can help you start the day off on the right foot. If you have the time, adding in a short workout or taking time to organize the day while you are the only one awake can be a game changer. Mama often sets the tone for the whole house, so when you feel ready and relaxed for the day, everyone else might too!

4) Schedule Dedicated Self-Care Time

Block out specific times in your schedule for self-care activities. Treat these appointments with the same level of importance as you would a medical appointment for your child. Make sure they are things you love to do…maybe exercising helps your body AND your mind, but make sure it brings you joy! If you hate running but love lifting weights, do not force that cardio on yourself. Maybe take up reading or listening to a podcast while you are folding laundry…or maybe it’s going out for coffee or wine with a friend once a month. Schedule these things for yourself and show up for yourself! Make them non-negotiable habits in your life and talk to your support system about making sure they can happen.

5) Build a Support System

Surround yourself with a support network of friends, family, or fellow parents who understand your unique challenges. Having a support system in place can provide both practical assistance and emotional support. These are the people you can lean on when you need a break, or even just to enjoy a Facetime venting session with.

6) Incorporate Micro-Moments of Self-Care

Recognize the value of small, consistent self-care practices. Whether it’s a few minutes of deep breathing, enjoying a favorite hobby, or listening to uplifting music, these micro-moments can have a significant impact on your well-being.

Spend Time in Nature: the body and mind get rejuvenated when you spend some time in fresh air among nature. Maybe this is taking a short walk or just stepping out onto your patio and sitting for a few minutes. Think about observing things around you – sights, sounds, the feeling of the air – which is a nice way to bring yourself into the present moment and out of the chatter in your mind.

7) Practice Gratitude

This is our personal favorite. Committing to a gratitude practice can change the way you look at everything. A great way to start is leaving a notebook by your bed and jotting down three things at the end of the night (or the start of the day!) that you are grateful for. It is better when these are specific things. For example, instead of saying “I am grateful for my kids” maybe say “I am grateful that I really connected with my daughter today when we had dinner.” When you can tune into what you are truly grateful for, you start to find gratitude in almost any situation.

In the whirlwind of parenting a child with disabilities, it’s essential to remember that taking care of yourself is not a selfish act but a necessary one. By prioritizing self-care, disability parents can nurture their own well-being, creating a foundation for a healthier and more resilient family unit. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and by investing in your own well-being, you are better equipped to provide the love and support your child needs.

Taryn Lagonigro & Jessica Quarello are the co-founders of Extra Lucky Moms, an advocacy platform focused on disability parenting. Learn more about their Lunch & Learn sessions on disability parenting topics.

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