The Mighty Logo

How I Made Self-Care a Reality as a Single Mom of a Child With a Disability

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

As a single mom of a child with a disability, self-care seemed to be one of those elusive dreams for many years. And then one day, I took “mom” out of the equation and just for a few moments, I allowed myself to acknowledge that before anything else, I’m a woman with my own needs, as well as a self-employed entrepreneur and someone who struggles with depression and anxiety.

For several years, I gauged my value as a mother based on the extent that I sacrificed myself. I believed that if I had a free hour, it should be spent in a way that benefitted my son. It took many years before I was able to reach the conclusion that my abilities as a mom could only be fully realized when I’m able to take care of me as a person. It sounds like a cliche, but you truly cannot pour from an empty glass.

I overcame the first huddle of recognizing the importance of self-care. Now the second challenge… how do I find the time when I’m already juggling so many responsibilities?

The answer to this required a complete revamping to my thought process. It would be ideal if my self-care activities could be enjoyed in solitude. But ultimately, the goal is finding activities that provide rejuvenation. And that doesn’t always have to be done away from everyone and everything.

I’ve been able to incorporate self-care into my life.

There are a number of daily activities that I’ve embarked on. Every morning my son and I take 15 minutes to do a combination of breathing exercises, meditation and gentle yoga. I don’t make it compulsory for my son to join in, but he knows that if he isn’t taking part, he still has to allow mommy her time. In these instances, it’s helped us tremendously to set a timer so that if he needs something, he knows how long he has to wait until I’m finished. As part of our nightly routine, we’ve created a mommy and son journal where we each write down three things we are grateful for. This is followed by podcasts in bed. I found a number of kids podcasts specifically focusing on wellness and meditation. While these are more attuned to my son, I can also enjoy them or take these moments for my own reflections.

On a weekly basis, I’ve started using vision boards in conjunction with my calendar. This has allowed me to be more strategic with my time. I specifically schedule items that I would usually take for granted as relaxation. Simple activities, such as reading and writing, now have designated time slots, which I coincide with my son’s schedule. Taking advantage of his long hour therapy session to write a blog post, for example. And while many may read this and think that reading and writing don’t sound very much like self-care, for me they are two of the most rejuvenating activities I can do but have rarely prioritized.

And finally, I started a few activities on a monthly basis. Each month, I’ve started taking at least one day per month to schedule a date with myself, which I can spend however I choose… either on my nails or hair, with a few friends or even going to the movies by myself. And one of the most rejuvenating of all activities has been to take at least one day with no social media — no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter. At some point in the future, I’m hoping to expand this to a complete electronics ban. But there is always value and growth in baby steps. The key I have realized is scheduling that time, instead of waiting for free time to emerge.

Getty image by Merlas

Originally published: September 29, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home