Self care for special needs parents

By Natalie Roberts-Mazzeo, mother supported by Very Special Kids.

I’m sure you have already heard the buzz words ‘self care’ circulating around, reminding you to slow down, to nourish, to prioritise your health and wellbeing, to exercise, to meditate, to sleep well. Yes, the list goes on and on.

Yet given your circumstances it can feel, well… pretty much impossible.

When you are raising a child with a disability or any other diagnosis, so much of your time and energy is taken up by providing additional care. I understand, I am in the same boat.

Some families live on very little sleep, perhaps they are up through the night dealing with seizures or administering medication. Maybe they just can’t switch their mind off, with all the enormity of the information they are dealing with.

Then there’s the physical side, the lifting children or young adults into and out of equipment, i.e.: wheelchairs and standing frames.

For the first few chaotic years after my daughter’s diagnosis, I spent most of my time either at The Royal Children’s Hospital or attending therapy appointments.

Any sort of self care other than a few hours sleep in between attending to my daughter throughout the night, felt like an impossible feat.

After a personal health issue, I realised I needed to nourish myself more than ever, after all, my daughter needed me to. Her diagnosis meant that she would require a lot of love and physical care for the rest of her life.

So I began to create ways to introduce self care into my life, yes I had to get really creative about it given my circumstances. Although I was lucky that I’m a qualified yoga and meditation teacher, so I had a tool kit. However even with that, it felt like a huge challenge.

I began with gentle exercises, I had to build my strength up again both emotionally and physically. Here’s a few things that helped me get started:

  • slow walks in the sunshine (or even through the hospital corridors)
  • gentle stretching exercises
  • taking deep conscious breaths in and out
  • swimming (or even sometimes just floating if I was too tired!)
  • riding my bike along the beach
  • writing and journaling
  • listening to music and moving to music
  • listening to an inspiring podcast
  • spending time in nature
  • enjoying a hot drink in the morning sun
  • listen to music, dance in the kitchen (why not?!)
  • taking moments of pause and breathing through stressful days
  • giving thanks for all the good things
  • catching up with friends and having a belly laugh
  • sign up to the local gym, pilates or yoga class
  • reconnecting to the things I loved before I became a special needs mama
  • ask for help when I needed it
  • making healthy food choices (not easy when you are tired I know!)

I discovered that when I took action on committing to my self care daily, my overall health and wellness increased.

When we prioritise our self care, we are in a much stronger position to provide the extraordinary amount of care our beautiful children require.


Find more insights from Natalie visit her blog – Miracle Mama