This is part of a series: 31 days to loving sensory parenting. You can see all the posts and follow along here.
Today we are going to continue our talk on support. Yesterday we chatted about finding your special needs mom tribe you can go here and read that. Today we are going to talk a little bit more about what we are looking for when we talk about support.
The dictionary definition of support:
: to agree with or approve of (someone or something)
: to show that you approve of (someone or something) by doing something
: to give help or assistance to (someone or something)
Why is the dictionary definition important when we are talking about support? Well, we need to know what we are looking for. And when we are looking for support I believe we are looking for two things. First, someone to relieve us of the heavy load we carry. It’s tough to get it all done, meeting the high needs of special needs child and taking care of all the other things you need to in life. Second, a sense of community, that you aren’t alone in the challenges that you face and that the feelings you are faced with are ok to feel.
1. Someone to relieve us of the heavy load we carry. This is the last part of the definition of support that says someone or something to give help or assistance to. This can really be a challenge especially if you have the type of child that does better with you than without you. We were lucky in that our child was actually worse with us than with other people (how awful does that sound!). Yesterday I talked about finding a mom tribe, when you don’t have supportive family that’s your best bet.
What about when you don’t have anyone close to you that can help you what do you do when you need a break?
-Use a gym that has childcare. Our gym has a program that will watch your child for up to two hours a day. I know many a mom that uses it and doesn’t work out, they mostly use it to just shower and get ready. Who doesn’t need that every once and awhile. That simple act alone can change your day.
-Start finding other mom’s to have a playdate with. Seriously, I know it’s not like having a real break but it can make a world of a difference. Even if its mom’s that you just sit together and no one really says anything because you are all so tired, it’s ok! Your kids are safely playing away because, YAY, other kids someone besides mom. If you have an aggressive child, just warn the other Mom’s ahead of time. And apologize profusely when it happens.
-We didn’t qualify for respite care, but I have heard other parents talk about how that did help them.
-Of course there is the option to pay for childcare. We often made this a priority for us when we didn’t have anyone else, at least once a month!
-Spouse/Significant Other- This may be a topic all on its own! If (Keyword IF, since it can be quite a challenge for some) you can get them on board. Try tag-team parenting. Even if you swap for at least an hour, you will be amazed at how this can change things for yourself and how you can reset.
-When all else fails, head to a park or indoor playground so your child can just run around with other kids and you can just supervise and make sure your child is safe. Sometimes, for me this was what we both needed. A little change of atmosphere and a “half” way break.
***The reality of the above is that I know that in really difficult times doing any of those is almost more work. But doing just one of those is what can help you get through another day, or even minute sometimes.
2. Finding a sense of community. This fits in with the first two points in the definition of support. We all need a sense of belonging. As special needs parents we need to feel supported in having others understand what we are going through. It can really change how you feel by finding other people who are on the same journey. I have found a strong sense of community online, it’s a lot harder to do in your local community. So here’s a few ways to find a sense of community online.
Why is having a support system key to loving sensory parenting?
That sense of aloneness and isolation makes you feel like you are living on an island. We were made for community. The reality that most of us face as parents is that we need a lot more support than others. We are fighting more than one battle in parenting our sensory kids. And we cannot do it on our own. We need to feel a part of a community and like we have less to carry. That can be found in finding a support system.