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Self Care: What Does This Mean for Parents?
By Sarah Fallica, LSW

Disabilities

Sarah Fallica, LSW

Parenting children with special needs comes with many challenges and rewards. Parents are busy focusing on completing homework, finding resources, attending to challenging behaviors, medication disbursement, and transporting their children to various therapies. In addition, families must also manage day to day living tasks. Many parents are so busy conquering the challenging needs of their children that they sacrifice time to care for themselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to caregiver burnout, in turn having a negative impact on meeting the needs of all family members. When parents neglect themselves, the increase in stress can lead to both negative physical and mental effects. The question is: how can we find time to care for ourselves with such challenging schedules, time constraints, and attempts to meet the needs of our children? There is no quick fix for this question. Instead, there must be a gradual lifestyle change. The most effective way to reduce this burnout is by practicing positive self care.
Self care can act as a much needed energy boost. Creating more energy can help parents to conquer life tasks with an open and clear mind. Make it a priority to make time for yourself in your hectic schedule. Just as you would schedule therapy for your child, schedule a self care session for yourself. You are definitely worth scheduling time for! Once obtaining this time, find a stress management practice that works for you. Choose a hobby or creative outlet that helps you identify as a person and not just a parent. Second, take care of your body’s physical and emotional needs. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, take a walk and maintain a consistent sleep routine. Build a support network within your peer group. Talk to your child’s therapist to obtain additional strategies for developing self care. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Remember, practicing positive self care is not about neglecting the needs of your child. Self care is about showing yourself the much needed care and respect you deserve for the amazing care you provide to your child every single day.
Sarah Fallica is Individual Family Focused Therapist at Pace School. Pace School is a non-profit day school and partial hospitalization program located in Churchill Borough that provides a unique blend of special education and mental health services to students from seven counties with emotional challenges or autism. For more information, call (412) 244-1900 or visit the website at www.paceschool.org.

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