Being a parent of a child with special needs can be overwhelming. It comes with individualized worries, stressors, and a skillset that parents learn on the spot. It carries joys, triumphs, and wins that often people with typically developing children do not understand. The mental load of being the caregiver for a child with special needs can be isolating as well as physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. All parents, and especially parents of children with special needs, benefit from support.
Often times, even though parents know they need support, they worry about leaving their child with special needs in someone else’s care. Parents need to think of respite care in the same terms as the emergency procedures in an airplane crash: put on your oxygen mask before putting on the child’s. In order to avoid caregiver burn out, parents must think of respite care as a necessity, not a luxury.
Respite care offers parents of children with special needs a short term break. Respite can come in different forms. It can be a caregiver who comes into your home on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc.), a drop off day program that provides activities to your child or a daily or weekly respite program. Respite care provides parents with numerous benefits.
The top 10 benefits of respite care to parents of children with special needs include:
Take the time to meditate, walk a leisurely walk, or whatever you do that calms you and decreases your heart rate.
Take a nap or eat a healthy meal. People are not the energizer bunny; we must recharge in order to keep going.
- Brain Break
Caring for a child with special needs means they are never far from your mind. The mental toll this takes is draining. Use respite as a time to rest your brain and focus on your mental health.
Remember your sense of self. Get back to the hobbies and activities that bring you joy!
Stepping away can offer a new perspective. It can help clear your head and make room for solutions, strategies, and out of the box tricks to aid in whatever is on your plate.
Make your doctor appointments, car serviced, or get a haircut. It’s the perfect time to check these things off your list without your little one in tow.
Meet up with a friend, bake a cake, or read a book, whatever it is that puts a smile on your face. You are a person too and you have a right to enjoy your life.
- Widen support base
Allowing respite to be a part of your life opens the doors to new people and resources. Take advantage.
- Decrease loneliness and isolation
It’s easy to feel like you are the only person who can meet your child’s needs, however when you choose the right respite program for your child and your family, you no longer feel that sense of isolation.
- Benefits to your child
Your Child benefits by forming new friendships, relationships, and experiences.