5 Ideas for Self-Care for Parents of Autistic Children During the Holiday Season
- Put Self-Care on The Agenda
- Lean on Others
- Try New Foods
Parenting children with Autism has its very rewarding moments. Children with Autism possess many special gifts, and bonding moments between them and their parents bring extra joy on account of their rarity. Caring for children with Autism makes parents strong. It is also normal and healthy to acknowledge the struggles and challenges of raising and living with children with Autism, and it is important for parents to make time to care for themselves. Here are five self-care ideas for inspiration.
Related resource: Top 25 Online Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
1. Put Self-Care On the Agenda
Parents of children with Autism live and breathe by rigid schedules. Consistency keeps the most challenging Autistic behaviors at bay. The first step to maintaining balance and self-care is to schedule it on the schedule with as much priority as everything else on the schedule. The best part is that it only needs to take up 10 to 15 minutes of each day to be effective. Do not schedule specific activities for that time slot, but rather label that time slot as something general, because the purpose of self-care is to spontaneously do whatever feels best in that moment. Avoid using that time slot for obligations such as exercise and errands. Those activities deserve their own time slots.
While exercise should not occupy the self-care time slot, it should definitely be on the agenda. It can also be just as enjoyable as the self-care time slot. Choose workouts that feel more like fun than work. This will ensure that it gets crossed off the list and that optimal effort will be put in. Put it on the schedule at whatever time of day exercising is most enjoyable, not most convenient. In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular system, the American Psychological Association offers a guide to the mental benefits of exercise.
3. Lean on Others
Part of achieving self-care is realizing that no one can care entirely for themselves. Invest in romantic partnerships, family relationships, and friendships. Choose friends who understand what Autism demands and are willing to provide support, but will also provide gentle reminders to get out and enjoy a social life. Make time for date nights and alone time with other significant family members. It is also important to spend fun time with Autistic children. Outings with other families with Autistic children are great because they have many of the same needs that families with neurotypical children do not think about.
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to say all the things that cannot be said out loud and process them. Every parent has thoughts and feelings that they need to express, but do not necessarily want to share with others. Journals are a safe place to put them into words snd make them external from the self. Putting pen to paper slows down the thought process, and often leads to solutions when necessary. It is good to document triumphs in the journal, as well. The next time things get rough, reading about how they worked out last time provides encouragement.
5. Try New Foods
Due to their regimented lifestyles, parents of Autistic children could stand to spice up their lives, literally and figuratively. Food is a great way to get pleasure out of something everyone must do every day, anyways. Try new recipes and restaurants. This creates a great opportunity for date nights and outings with friends, both of which are also essential to maintaining self-care.
The best part about these five self-care tips are that they are easy to implement without excessively disrupting normal life. They highlight the fact that parents of children with Autism do not necessarily need to turn their world completely upside down, but rather make a few key changes to things they are already doing. Parents are only as good to their children as they are to themselves.