SELF CARE. Those two words haunt me everywhere I go. My therapist, my doctor, my friends, everyone talks about self-care, but does anyone really do it? What is it? So, taking a half hour to read a book or chat with a friend or go for a walk is really going to help me deal with all the phone calls, all the meetings and appointments I have for my kids. Will it really help me deal with all the frustration and loneliness of being a parent of special needs children?
A few months ago, I was probably at one of my toughest points I had been in a while. I saw an add for Cross Fit classes at a local gym. For some reason I was drawn to it. I thought “why not”. I have tried lots of other self-care suggestions and none of them really appealed. I am overweight, out of shape and never lifted weights in my life. I was completely out of my comfort zone but for some reason I was drawn to this class. I fell in love after the first class. The coach knew I had no idea what I was doing. He has helped every step of the way. The other women in my class are so supportive of each other. It really has become a family. The weights and cardio were a great way for me to let go of all that stress I was carrying around. This is a place I can go, and just be me. I am not a mom, wife, special needs advocate for my kids. Very few people there know my story at home. When I am at the gym, I am me, working on becoming a better version of myself. It is 3 hours a week that I do just for me. Don’t get me wrong I still feel the guilt we all feel when we do things for ourselves. I am working hard to push through it. It is lessening. It is helping.
I could list a hundred different ideas for self-care, but what I want to say is think outside of these traditional ideas of reading, walking, call a friend. Find someplace or something where you can find yourself. Find something that is all about you. Sometimes learning new things, trying things you never thought you would do, or finding a group with a common interest that isn’t related to special needs is what it takes to make you feel alive again.
Whatever it is you need to do, find something. Then make a commitment to doing it. Hold on to it with both hands and don’t let go. An appointment for yourself is just as important as appointments for your kids.
Written By: Terri Boettcher, Parent Support Navigator, Southern Minnesota