3 Ways To Stay Sane As A Parent To An Exceptional Child

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Mom happy to go out to her writer’s meeting

There are days and there are days. Every parent knows this, but especially when you are the parent to a child with special needs you kind of have to expect the unexpected and be able to go calmly with the flow. Over the weekend, I had been tired and was not taking the best care of myself in the days leading up to said weekend. Hence, I was the one who lost it with Michael’s questions, anxiety and testing. Last night, it was Dad. The one thing I think we could both say (as we know this as parents from seven years of parenting our child who is exceptional),  is if you are not taking good care of your own mind, body and spirit, your child will gravitate to that. They will also not feel sorry for you. On the contrary, it will unsettle them, and they will act out. This is not because they don’t care, or don’t want you to be happy. They just know you are not open to them and they don’t know what to make of it.

Last night I had a great evening with Michael. We even squeezed in some catechism. He listened, we joked around, but when he remembered I was going out to my writer’s meeting in the evening he became nervous.

“But why are you going Mommy? Can’t you skip it?”

“No, honey. I had to last week as Dad needed to work. It’s important to me to go. I enjoy reading and writing my stories. Plus, it’s my last one till the fall.”

All true folks.

“Oh, ok. You’ll still put me to bed on other nights, right?”

“Yes, buddy.”

I knew last night leaving for one of my writer’s groups that it would be a challenging night for Dad and son as both were tired, and the dance would begin. Michael, though a little jealous at times that Mommy and Daddy have these things that are important to us but separate from him, is also slowly starting to see their importance. We have to remind him at times, but he is recognizing it as he too realizes his need for downtime as evidenced in the picture below. It is essentially what makes us all better people, when we have our down time.

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Michael chillin’ out watching tv

As I started writing this post, it occurred to me that there are several ways parents can take better care of themselves. And if I could spare parents learning it the hard way like I did, I would love to do that. So, here are the 3 Ways that I Stay Sane As A Parent To An Exceptional or Special Needs Child:

  1. Go out at least once a week alone or to an organized activity: I know this is hard, but trust me, it’s necessary to catch your breath and to keep your stamina up. It could be as simple as going to the local coffee place and reading a book alone, going for a long walk alone, or taking a class or taking up a hobby. Do something for you and you only by yourself or WITH ADULTS. 🙂
  2. .Make sure both partners negotiate separate “Me” time alone in the house: Also mandatory. When Dad gets his own time for workouts or other things important to him and I do otherwise, we are both happier and Michael gets the benefit of two happy and relaxed parents instead of one or two stressed out ones.
  3. Join a support group or call up a friend to talk and connect: This is not the same as an organized activity, but rather a casual way of talking about what’s happening in your life and theirs. You will not feel alone and frustrated.

The most important reasons for doing the 3 above points is to remind yourself of the amazing journey you are on, the parenting journey of raising a child that is truly a challenge as well as a joy and a testament to believing in anything being possible.

Exceptional Parents, what are your sanity tips? What are your child’s? Yes,  you heard me right. You can also teach them ways to stay or get sane and deal with their frustrations. Think about what makes you both happy, relaxed and recharges your mutual batteries and you will have your answers. Until next time.

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