How Disabled Parents Can Make Time for Self-Care

by - March 05, 2019

Article Written by Ashley Taylor

It’s understandable to feel a little guilty about taking time to go out for coffee or do some meditating when you’re the parent of a young child. After all, your instincts are to be there when your little one needs you, and that’s a big responsibility. But if you’re a disabled parent, it’s especially important to rest and renew yourself so you’re better able to provide the level of care you want and your child's needs. Self-care isn’t a manifestation of personal selfishness; rather, it’s an essential part of being an effective, nurturing parent.

Fresh air

If you’re a disabled individual with mobility restrictions, getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine between feedings may be difficult. Without some respite, spending so much time inside can be frustrating and will eventually take a toll on your mood and mental outlook. Everyone needs some of the healthful vitamin D your body gets naturally from sunlight, and there’s nothing quite as invigorating as a lungful of clean air after a long day of changing diapers and preparing bottles. So spend an hour or so out on the deck each day or take a quick stroll just to clear your head when your little one is napping in their stroller. You need it, and your child will benefit as well.

Destress your environment

Decluttering and organizing your environment will help alleviate some of the stress that hits you now and then. Your bedroom is one place that should be as soothing as possible, so make sure it’s a restful, clean and quiet space where it’s easy to aim for the 7 to 9 hours of sleep your body needs. Install blackout curtains if light is a problem, and keep all screens (TV and computer) turned off while you’re sleeping. It’s also a good idea to maintain a temperature below 72 degrees to keep your body temperature down, which will facilitate good sleep.

Proper nutrition

Diet also has a lot to do with how you feel and your ability to maintain a positive perspective through the late-night feedings or random temper tantrums. Take the time to prepare healthy, nutritional meals rather than relying on fast food for the sake of convenience. Make a point of including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein in each meal, and whip up a protein shake for those between-meal occasions when you need to get something in your stomach.

Doing you

Self-care is a very broad term; it means a lot of things and not just good food, exercise, and sleep. As a disabled parent, your days are taken up with caring for another, which means you need to find ways to care for your soul. Arrange with your partner or a family member so that you can get a few hours during the week or weekend to enjoy doing something that’s meaningful to you. That could mean watching a favorite old movie, reading a book, playing a video game, or spending time writing in a journal (a highly therapeutic habit). In the long run, setting aside time just for you will make you a better mom or dad.

Talk with friends

When you’re spending so much time with a little one, it can be easy to lose perspective. Some parents begin to feel depressed, or worry that they’re not doing a good job. Sometimes you just need to talk with someone who cares about you, who knows you and always seems to have the right words at the right moment. Talk, text, or FaceTime with a good friend or relative each week. Share your frustrations and funny parent stories. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing or having a good cry - both are good because you’ll be venting emotionally and getting it off your chest. A disabled parent can benefit greatly from a loving, supportive voice reminding you what a good person and parent you are.

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Parenting is already a physically and emotionally taxing role, particularly when caring for a little one. As a disabled parent, it’s even more important for you stay mindful of your need for self-care and your child’s need for a rested, strengthened, and well-adjusted parent. And don’t underestimate the value of maintaining a restful and orderly living environment.

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About the Author: Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

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