February 1, 2010

Caring for the Caretaker

Parenting a child with a developmental disability is a joy, but can also be extremely exhausting. I think it's important that we take good care of ourselves so we have the patience, consistency, and love to offer our children, don't you? Here are some suggestions that have worked well for me. If you are a parent of a child with autism, I'd love to hear your suggestions as well.

  • Marriage: Kyle and I have handled our son's diagnosis very differently, but we have always tried to battle together as partners rather than battle one another. We have tried very hard to protect our marriage rather than allowing our children or the autism to dominate our lives. We got in the habit early on of having a weekly date night and this literally was my sanity after Will was diagnosed. I spent those months of date night crying, but at least we were together and communicating and grieving together. We also decided early on that any decision we made concerning Will would be filtered through the question: "Is this good for our marriage and our family too?" Of course, sometimes things do affect our other kids (like when they got drug along to speech therapy), but we didn't want the autism to take priority over everything else. We wanted to do things as normally as possible as much as we could. This has worked really well for our marriage and our family, including Will.
  • Time with the Lord: As a Christian, nothing brings me more peace than a reminder of His love through the truth in the Bible. Sleep, time with Kyle, food, vacation.....nothing comes close to recharging my batteries because He reminds me that He sees, I'm not alone, and that He offers me the sustenance I need to parent my children.
  • Take Time Away: It's difficult for any mother to take time away from their kids, but the guilt and fear that went along with it for me would often keep me from doing it. Especially when Will was younger, I felt like I had to be by his side at all times, acting as his translator and buffer with the rest of the world. My husband is actually the one who convinced me that I was a much better mother when I returned from a few hours of reading magazines at Barnes & Noble or having lunch with a friend. And he was the one who made that possible for me. 
  • Thinking of Progess I've Seen: I love to go back and remember all the ways Will has grown. It reminds me that the fight is worth it and that, for him, the sky's the limit!
I may think of more later, but for now I will leave it at that. I am almost finished with my autism posts so if there is something you'd like me to discuss, please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading!