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We’ve become numb to the unpredictability of our family life. We are always, “on our toes,” and ready to intervene. When I see our life through the eyes of someone who isn’t familiar with our daily grind, it gives me pause. First, I chuckle to myself, because I’ve forgotten how surprising it can be! My second reaction is somber reflection. Our daily routine is a lot to tackle. It is often stressful, overwhelming and intense. There are few people with whom we trust to handle it all. Sometimes, it feels like too much to ask even for our tightest circle of loved ones. When asking for help feels like too big of an ask, what do you do?
Have an honest conversation
Ask your sitters to tell you if this is too much for them, and be prepared for an honest answer. Trust is essential – you need to trust them with your child(ren), and they need to trust you enough to be honest with you. Assure them that you will not be angry if there comes a time when they can no longer take it on. After all, you know how stressful it can be as you live this every day.
Empower them with information
Is there a certain way to respond to your child when he is in crisis? Are there specific items that comfort your child when she is in post-crisis? Teach these things to your sitter, and provide a written one-sheet for reference.
On your one-sheet, include backup contacts for your sitter in case you cannot be reached. If there is a family member, therapist, neighbor, or fellow special needs parent that you trust, ask them if you can include them as a backup contact for your sitter.
As caregivers, we need to allow ourselves breaks to just relax and enjoy ourselves. It can be nearly impossible to release the stress and constant worry and embrace the moment. But, doing so helps us to replenish our own energy and come back home refreshed! Who do you trust to stay with your kids? What do you like to do when you get away?
If you’re running low on creativity, here are some self-care ideas for caregivers.