31 Days of Parenting Kiddos with Special Needs: Mental Health

31 Days of Parenting Kiddos with Special Needs

Yesterday, I spoke about the caretaker parent needing to have time scheduled in for recharging. In the past, I’ve been told that making such a request was unreasonable and as the mother, it’s my duty to stay home with my son.

Yeah… no.

My mom stayed home with us until we were 4 years old and then had to put us in preschool/daycare because she had to go back to work. (My dad was a mechanical engineer and Silicon Valley was having job issues at the time. It was not economically feasible for her to continue staying home with us, even though she wanted to.) As much as I hated being left at daycare every morning (and howled for months every time we were dropped off), I did have fun and was in daycare after school every day until my brother and I were old enough to stay home by ourselves. When I got pregnant with Daniel, I expected that he’d be in daycare and I’d be working. The bump in that road came when he was born so prematurely. Daycares *REALLY* don’t like preemies because they tend to have lingering problems and their immune systems are really fragile. While we were living in Montana, Jon and I managed to juggle our work schedules so one of us could be home with Daniel every day. I didn’t start being a housewife and stay-at-home mom until we moved to southern California.

So… having said that, having that time to recharge (and I’m talking about maybe an hour or two to myself at the end of the day) is essential to my well-being and it’s not an unreasonable request. After all…

You can't give what you don't have.

There is such a thing as caregiver fatigue and I’ve seen some pretty scary cases of it in my own family. The caregiver needs to have some break from what they’re doing — it is impossible to give that much without doing something to recharge your mental/emotional reserves.

Another aspect of mental health is your spiritual life. If you’re atheist, that might look like keeping your belief in good people. If you’re me, that means getting some time each day to pray and read Scripture. What that prayer time/quiet time/devotional time looks like is up to you but it is essential to find time for it.