New Year’s Resolutions for Special Needs Parents

It’s that time of the year again, where folks take the opportunity to wipe their slates clean by making New Year’s resolutions. Whether that’s hitting the gym, eating healthier or spending more time with family, people around the world are living the mantra – new year, new me.

These are all great goals, but for parents with special needs children, New Year’s resolutions may get swept under the rug between hospital visits, vigorous medication regimens and day-to-day routines. It’s common to neglect your own needs, since the children’s needs so often come first. However, it won’t do your children any favors if you aren’t running at your best. Parents of kids with special needs should, and deserve to, take some time to focus on themselves. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  1. Make time for yourself.
    It’s time to RECHARGE. Pick up a new hobby. Take a Zumba class. Read a book (one that is not about your child’s condition). Walk the dog. Go to Yaya’s with a friend and unwind. Take five extra minutes in your shower. Take advantage of Arkansas’ numerous parks and trails. Do something for yourself, and whatever it is, make sure it’s something that gives you life.
  2. Date your spouse.
    Marriage is hard. Add children, and it gets harder. Add special needs in the mix, and it gets even harder. But one thing can be said with certainty, is that you are in this journey together. Make it a priority to spend some time with your spouse. That could be a date night at your favorite restaurant, or simply playing a board game. Make the effort to wake up ten minutes earlier to spend time talking to each other. The key is making time for just the two of you to spend some quality time together.
  3. Cultivate thankfulness.
    Sometimes, it can be a lot easier to focus on the glass half empty. Come up with a strategy that helps put you in the right mindset to start your day on a good note. Maybe it’s keeping a journal where you write five things you’re thankful for each morning. Maybe it’s taking five minutes before you fall asleep to remember the good moments that happened throughout the day, the things that made you smile, laugh, and the unexpected surprises.
  4. Get more sleep.
    A common resolution, but no less important. In fact, this resolution takes no effort, no cost, and it’s most likely to make all the other resolutions easier to accomplish. It requires no gym membership, expensive gear, or artificial sweeteners. Getting between 6-8 hours of sleep each night is a vital component to functioning properly during the day. So instead of scrolling through Facebook for five more minutes, put down your phone, turn off the television, forget the dishes and just go to sleep. Grab your kid’s melatonin if you have to. It works.
  5. Find local respite.
    This is one of the biggest needs for most families that have children with special needs. Finding care can be a bit daunting at first, but there are so many resources available in places people don’t think to look. Look for something in your area – churches, agencies, etc. Go to a local college of medicine and post an advertisement on a bulletin board in their main office. You never know. But try to find respite. Below is a resource with listed Arkansas agencies and information that can help you get started:

https://archrespite.org/respite-locator-service-state-information/136-arkansas-info

You know you’re doing the best you can, and your child is doing their best, too. You don’t need a year-long gym membership to “better yourself.” That happens when everything on the inside, deep in our hearts, is at peace. But it’s hard to find peace whenever we are merely surviving rather than living.

Parents–do you have any New Year’s resolutions that you’ve found to be therapeutic? Comment your suggestions below! And here’s to 2020 bringing the best to you and yours!

Written by Brianna Sellers

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