There is a lot of focus on how to help children with autism, how we can make their lives easier, and how to help them to enjoy situations. But, what about looking after yourself? Being the parent or caregiver of a child on the autistic spectrum is challenging. There is a lot of pressure to get things right, a lot of reading, research, and opinions to take on and all parents know how difficult looking after any child can be sometimes. So, you need to look after yourself and find ways to manage your stress. This will help you to do the best you can for your child.
If your child has just been diagnosed, it’s important to learn as much as you can about their condition. This will help you to understand and accept. However, even if you’ve been living with the diagnosis for a while, it’s a good idea to keep learning. The growth of health informatics means that healthcare is much more data led. This means new discoveries and developments are being made all the time, but it also means that a lot of this data is available to patients. If you wanted to feel like you were learning and doing more you could even study for a masters in health informatics.
Talk to people: your doctor, your partner, or friends, or even an online group. Never stop talking. Bottling your stress up will only make it worse. Support groups can be a great source of information, friendship, and support, which could be invaluable to you going forward.
Take Care of Yourself
You can’t take care of your child if you’re not looking after yourself. They need you to be strong and healthy. So, make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising whenever you can. If you have any concerns about your own physical or mental health, speak to your doctor.
Do Something for You
Studying an online degree such as an online masters in health informatics is a great way to take some time to do something for yourself. But, there are other ways. You could try taking up a new hobby or starting an exercise program. Find something that you enjoy doing and regularly make time to do it.
Take a Break
All parents need a break occasionally. This could be something small like reading a book on your own at the end of the day or something larger like sending the kids to their grandparents for the weekend.
Sometimes, when your child has been particularly emotional or challenging, you just have to laugh. Over the years, you will find yourself in many “laugh or cry” situations. Try to find a way to laugh.
Focus on the Positives
This won’t always be easy. But, there are positives and it’s important to remind yourself of them occasionally. You could even write a list of everything you love about your child or your life and read it after a hard day.
However, you choose to cope with your stress it’s important that you don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty about being stressed, we all go through it. Then, don’t feel guilty about taking some time out to look after yourself. You both need and deserve it.