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5 Resolutions Moms of Kids With Disabilities Should Make

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Everyone is talking about resolutions, but it can be hard to think about resolutions when your child is facing extra challenges.

As the waves of life come and go, there are a few things I need to make a priority to keep it together — things that important for all parents, but I believe they are especially important for those of us who parent children with disabilities. So I’ve come up with five New Year’s resolutions moms of kids with disabilities might appreciate:

1. Make time for yourself, and do something that gives you life.

You can only give so much. At some point you need to “recharge.” Take a Zumba class, practice yoga, go to a coffee shop and wear headphones so nobody will talk to you so you can read a book without interruptions. Take a photography class. Go out with friends at night when the kids are in bed. Walk the dog, and if you don’t have one, go for a walk on your own so you get some fresh air and time to think by yourself. Take a YouTube exercise class. Just do something for yourself, whatever it is that gives you life and provides an escape from the day-to-day. Do it. You need it.

2. If you are married, date your spouse.

Marriage is hard. Period. Add children, and it gets harder, add disabilities in the mix, and it can get tricky. You might even be one of those parents whose marriage fell apart. It’s hard… really, really hard. I’ve slammed doors and bawled over discussions with my husband regarding parenting. It breaks me to know this can happen so easily in my marriage. Spending time with my husband outside from being parents is so important.

Make it a priority to spend time with your spouse. Your spouse is your partner; you need to be on the same team. Go out on dates. If you cannot afford to go out, then make a picnic lunch and go to the park. If it’s too cold, go walk around the mall and play a game. Get creative; my husband and I sometimes watch people and we make up their conversations based on their facial expressions and mannerisms. We get a good laugh out of it (which reminds me we should do this more often). When the kids are in bed, light some candles and dance. Talk to each other about your hopes, your dreams. Dream together. Do something with your spouse that will help keep you connected; don’t allow distance to come between the two of you. Date your spouse.

3. Get respite.

Respite is one of the biggest needs for many families. Look for something in your area. There are churches that offer respite programs. There are agencies that have qualified respite providers. If you need to, go to a local college and put in an advertisement for the need. You never know. But try to find respite. I know it is easier said than done. I know from personal experience how hard it is to find respite, but it is so important! Connect with another family who is in a similar situation as yours, and swap weekends for childcare — you watch their kids one Friday night, they watch your kids the next week. Could you approach a school staff or aide and ask if you could hire them for respite? Think outside the box, make the need known; you never know who will step up. But make this your resolution: find someone to do respite for you!

4. Embrace your limits.

It is OK to say no. It’s OK to cancel a therapy appointment on a day when you are so overwhelmed you need a break. It is OK not to participate in every single activity at school or sporting event. It is OK to limit time spent with people who hurt you or drag you down. It is OK to make your world a little smaller for a while until you feel ready to take on more. Don’t be afraid to embrace your limits.

5. Cultivate thankfulness.

I have discovered it can be easy to focus on the hard and messy in life, so instead, try to focus on the good. Determine to end each day counting your blessings, the good moments, the laughs, the unexpected surprises: the stranger who opened the door for you, the Facebook meme that made you laugh so hard you almost peed your pants. Make the good in your life be what you focus on each day. Make this the challenge you take on this year in full force.

Research shows that cultivating thankfulness has a positive impact in several areas of life.

Gratitude is an attitude and way of living that has been shown to have many benefits in terms of health, happiness, satisfaction with life, and the way we relate to others. Feeling and expressing gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which compensates for our brains’ natural tendency to focus on threats, worries, and negative aspects of life. As such, gratitude creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which research shows can undo the grip of negative emotions like anxiety. — Melanie Greenberg PH.D.

We’re all in this together. Here’s to a hope-filled 2018.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Getty image by bruniewska

Originally published: December 27, 2017
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