As parents and primary carers we are programmed to put ourselves last. We always makes sure they make it to their appointments and try to cater to every need. But sometimes, taking care of them means we have to take care of ourselves too.
I don't know about you, but any time my doctor tells me I need to take time out for myself I want to give her a little slap. It's ok, I don't, and she knows that I am only half kidding when I tell her I want to; but the truth is, the concept is usually a laughable one.
The stress of being a carer for children with additional needs is something that can't be quantified with numbers or words. If asked to associate a feeling with it, you would have to answer that is represented by every feeling imaginable, all rolled into one. It's something one would have to live through to understand.
If you are feeling as though you are loosing yourself in the process, you aren't alone. It can be easy to give so much of yourself as a parent or carer that you forget who you are as an individual.
So what can we do about it? Well, I'm starting to use meditation. I know, I know, that is for hippies and millennials with too much time on their hands, but what I am learning is that it can actually be for anyone. Now I am not talking about sitting cross-legged in a trance for 4 hours at a time. Let's start with a simple five minutes to re-group.
I got an app, it's called Calm, and although expensive, it has everything on it from sleep stories, to meditation and music. My daughter loves it for calming down at sleep time and my son loves the stories told by everyone from Stephen Fry to Matthew McConaughey, fiction and non-fiction. Personally, I have started taking time out from my working-in-the-car sessions when the kids are in various therapies so stop and unwind. Just five minutes at a time to force myself to take a breath.
Here is the kicker I never thought I would say, it helps.
That 'time for yourself' that the doctors speak of doesn't need to be a weekend trip with the girls that will never happen. Sometimes it can just be the five minutes, those 300 seconds, that remind you that you are living this life too.
Find a free app to start with and see how it feels. I dare you to spend those moments on yourself anytime there is an opportunity.
Let's circle back in a few weeks and see it is going.