Caregivers are superheroes. If you are a caregiver, you know that it takes an incredible amount of time and energy to ensure that your loved one - no matter the age, children being no exception - has what they need to thrive!
But what about you?
It may seem a little backwards to think about taking care of yourself, especially if you have a child with medical needs, or even a little selfish. Shouldn’t we be talking about how to better care for your child?
If you want to be able to take the best care of your child who may be sick (chronic or short term), you need to be in the best shape you can be during this season. We all know this, but when things are a little overwhelming in your family, it can be hard to take the necessary steps to do what we know we need to do. Here are a few things to consider about yourself during this time.
It is critical to make sure that you, as the caregiver, are healthy. It is stressful and time consuming to care for your child. In order to make sure that your own health does not become a problem, block out some time for simple exercise (walking, swimming, 15 minute youtube fitness video). Are you eating well-rounded meals?
Along with the appropriate intake of protein, veggies, fruits, grains and healthy fats, keep track of how much water you are drinking. Put in your calendar a “wind down” time so that you can get the best sleep, even if it’s not the most sleep. Check in with your own doctor for routine visits and if possible, try to limit alcohol and avoid smoking or tobacco.
There is no doubt that stress is a part of your life. Some of the suggestions under the Physical category can help us deal with it and sometimes we need to focus a little more on how we feel. Slowing down to check in with ourselves can actually feel a little threatening - being busy looking after our child can keep us from dealing with our own emotions from the situation.
Do not be ashamed to cry! Tears are an incredible release. Go to coffee with a trusted friend or family member that you can process through what it’s like for you to have an ill child - build yourself some safe spaces to be honest, raw and real.
It is also ok to laugh. We may find a twinge of guilt start to come over us if we have a chance to do something fun while our loved one is in a difficult situation. Being able to keep our senses of humor in hard times can help alleviate stressful situations and maybe even bring a little health to our own bodies.
If it is just too much to bear on your own and you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone already in your circle, don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor. They can do some amazing work in a safe, confidential space to help you process whatever is before you.
As a caregiver, there are a million and one things on your mind about your child. Sometimes it is necessary to be able to focus on something else to give your mind a break. What sort of hobbies do you have? It’s ok to take some time and do some of them. Summer is here and there is plenty of warm weather to garden, golf, hike, journal, paint, bike or even picnic! It will help you think more clearly about those million and one things for your child if you take the time for a mental break.
The world is full of ideas on spirituality and religion. If you have a particular faith, that may be another great avenue to find some strength to carry on. Take the time to go to a small group or service and explore if there are any nuggets of wisdom and hope that you can pass along to your child.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”
We know that caring for a sick child is hard. We are so grateful that so many of these children have amazing parents who are putting it all on the line for them! We also believe that the whole family deserves care and support during their child’s illness. Finding healthy coping strategies to make sure you are taking care of yourself is going to play a key role in your child’s journey. If you’d like to talk more about self care options, give me a call at 307-333-1273 or send me an email- firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to listen to you and brainstorm some ideas that fit you!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.