As a caregiver for a child with special needs, your life can easily shift to revolving around their needs and demands. While loving and supporting your little one is certainly rewarding, the constant time demands are often draining emotionally and physically. All you really want is a few minutes for yourself, right? Even a quiet bath or quick trip to the shopping market alone feels like a luxury.
Finding Fifteen Minutes
Finding time for even fifteen minutes away is often challenging. This is true for any family caregiver, but if you are the primary caregiver for a medically fragile child, feeling like you are on call 24/7 likely accurately describes your reality. Your baby needs you, and everything else in life kind of takes a backseat to that. This might make life feel like there is no end to your constant need to remain present and in sight. That is exactly why you have to create space to breathe.
Caregiver burnout is real, and it isn’t pretty. It leads to anger, hostility, a loss of focus and plenty of other physical and mental health problems. Your child and the rest of your family suffer too. If you are faced with ever-increasing stress as a family caregiver, ignoring it is almost certain to lead to burnout. Instead, do something about it.
Respite While Your Loved One is in the Room
Taking fifteen minutes for yourself each day is a great way to relieve stress and avoid burnout. Surprisingly, this is even possible while your loved one remains in the room. Here are some ideas:
Read a book: While your little one is tuned into a television show, enjoying a book of her own or even taking a short nap, grab a book and read a few chapters. Keep reading materials or your favorite e-book on hand so that it’s available anytime you find you have a minute to spare.
Breathing exercises: The breath helps us to find energy and relieve stress. Taking a few minutes to inhale and exhale deeply can rejuvenate your body and help clear your mind. You can do this with anyone present in the room. Spend a few minutes on breathing while you help bathe your son or before sitting down for a meal.
Exercise: If your child is physically able, engage them in a short and simple exercise routine. This might include a video that you two watch together, a few yoga poses that you try or even a short walk. If your loved one can’t join you, bring an exercise mat near their chair or bed so that you can try a few poses on your own while they watch nearby.
Ways to Spend Time Alone
If your little one is out of the room but still close by, here are some ideas to try:
Power nap: Lay your head down and take a rest while your loved one rests. Keep the nap short so it does not interfere with your evening sleep. Even if you do not fall asleep, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Meditate or pray: Whether you are religious or not, taking some time to focus on your spiritual side helps you to reconnect and find purpose. Sit with your Bible or other religious text, meditate with music or in silence or find an online app that can guide you through a peaceful meditation.
Get outside: If your child is occupied and safe, take some time to sit outside alone. You do not have to go far, even a few minutes on the patio or in the yard helps. Exposing yourself to fresh air and sunshine clears your mind. Exposure to sunlight and vitamin D are good for the body too.
Self-care is important to remember especially when you are providing care to a child with medical needs. Make some time for it every day. When possible, step away from the home and give yourself a true break from family caregiver responsibilities. Salus Homecare Salt Lake City respite services help make this possible. If you are in need of professional support, contact us to learn more about how we can help.