Parenting. To some, it is the most challenging yet rewarding job they have ever had. They get to watch their children reach each milestone, discover the world around them, and enjoy all the ups and downs along the way. The dream is to provide a happy childhood with the best memories. The dream is to provide a happy childhood with the best memories. To this end, we all do our very best, but some face different challenges than others.
As a parent of a child with disabilities, your world looks a little different. You can still have those beautiful moments when they smile at you and run into your arms. There are also so many other things that you need to worry about. When is the next doctor’s appointment? Therapy session? Is this activity safe for my child? Are they going to be able to go to school? These questions may haunt you and challenge your strength every day. Fortunately, we have come up with a few tips that can help you ease the stress of the day-to-day tasks.
You are not perfect – and that is OK!
No parent is perfect. No person is perfect. We all make decisions that affect the next steps in our journey. Some are mistakes, and some are the best thing you could have done. We don’t know until we have made the decisions and dealt with the consequences, good or bad. Spending your time stressing or beating yourself up over decisions you made will take away the time that you could be spending on yourself or caring for your child. You are doing your best, and that’s what matters!
Be honest with what you need and create a list.
This is especially important at the beginning of your journey. You may not know what you need right away, but take some time to think about what would make things easier for you. If your friends and family say “let me know if I can do anything for you,” you will now have a list of things that they can help you with. Don’t be afraid to ask them for their help.
Therapy is Play.
Parents of children with new disability diagnoses may not understand what therapy looks like. They might think “they should be doing something, not just playing!” Therapy looks different for children. They learn through role play and interactive play. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to learn some of the techniques that therapists use to play and teach your child. You can use these techniques at home to ease some of the tension and struggles you face on a daily basis.
Parenting a child with disabilities is a marathon, not a sprint.
You don’t win in this marathon. You keep running. You eat, drink, and sleep all while staying in this race. Other illnesses may see an end in sight. Some disabilities require a lifetime of support. Therefore, you need to remember to take the time for yourself, even if it is a brief moment.
You are not alone!
1 in 6 children in the United States is living with a disability. That means there are many parents that are riding this wave with you. Your stories may not match identically, but you could be experiencing similar problems. Leaning on these parents for support and understanding can make the world of a difference in your life. It can give you peace knowing that someone else is, or has, gone through this too!