The new year is approaching fast, and you might be thinking about some resolutions you might like to make for yourself in 2022. Many things change with time while others remain unchangeable. The challenges that come with parenting a child with Autism, for instance, won’t go away when the clock strikes midnight on the 1st January. But, as we move into a fresh new year, there are some New Year’s Resolutions that you can make for yourself to ensure you’re no longer pouring from an empty cup.
Being a parent of an autistic child is a demanding job. It is a journey that needs your patience, commitment, and dedication. And since every special needs child is unique, your journey will also be unique, and filled with its own set of challenges.
Stop comparing your journey to that of other special needs parents. Instead, appreciate every step (no matter how small) you have taken this year and the progress that you’ve seen in your child. It doesn’t matter how big or small that accomplishment may have been, it is all progress towards an overall goal.
If you have loved your child this year, pat yourself on the back. If you have spent hours researching options, talking to specialists, working with OTs, briefing educators and being stuck in your own thoughts at 2am in the morning, pat yourself on the back. Your number #1 goal has been to make sure your child’s daily needs are met with love and care and you’re doing a fantastic job.
And remember, these small steps now lead to more significant achievements down the track.
To ensure that your child gets the very best of you, you need to ensure that you don’t lose yourself in the process of caring for them. You have so much on your plate already, but you need to start carving out time for your own self care as well.
Remember, you had your own life goals once. Or if you need to start smaller, what about all those hobbies that you once enjoyed? Meeting your friends for coffee, going for walks, listening to podcasts, reading… These are all acts of love that you need to be giving to yourself regularly. A happy and emotionally positive parent is always a better parent.
Make sure you also focus on your own health and fitness as well as your child’s. Your goal should be to keep fit and provide your body with optimum nutrition for your mental health, first and foremost. Getting adequate sleep is also significantly important.
You’re human, and being the parent of a child with special needs is tiring. This is why you can’t shy away from seeking help from others. It takes a village to raise children, and never is this more true than when your child is on the Autism spectrum. Any break, no matter how little, is always helpful if you can relax and reenergize.
There’s no shame in asking or accepting the break. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it! Also, allowing your child to interact with and build connections with other carers is also fantastic for their emotional development. In the end, it is a win-win situation for both you and your little one.
A new year means fresh beginnings. Now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year that’s been, celebrate the wins and chalk the hard days up as lessons. As a special needs parent, the best gift you can ever give your child is the best version of you. And this is why these three resolutions for 2022 are so important. Finding the time for self care isn’t always easy. In fact, when you’re a parent of a special needs child it can sometimes seem practically impossible. But remember, you’re doing it with your child’s interests at heart.
At My Autism Support, we have an excellent online program that is unique to your child’s needs. The program is tailored to help you communicate, support and understand with persons on the Autism Spectrum.