If you can afford it, hire a sitter once a week so you get some relief. If a sitter is just not an option, ask a family member to come over and help from time to time. As parents of a special needs child, it is often hard to push our child off onto someone else. The guilt it fills us with is often so unbearable that we avoid taking breaks.
It’s ok to ignore that guilty feeling and force yourself to ask, and to keep asking until someone says yes. You deserve it more than anyone. We are 24-hour caregivers to an often difficult (yet loveable all the same!) child. This comes with so much stress and it is vital that we get the time we need to unwind. If the parent is stressed out, guess who’s going to be stressed out, too? Yep, your child, and that is the last thing you need when you are already overwhelmed by stress and fatigue.
You could also look into special needs summer camps. Scary thought for you, too? Don’t worry! Before you ship your child off, summer camps are usually open to scheduling a tour so you know exactly what to expect. To locate these camps, look to your local rec center, YMCA or the internet. You can also ask around at local special needs events or local nonprofits. Often times, there are local community resource fairs that will have special needs summer camps set up at a table, passing out information. Nonprofits usually have resource libraries that can help you find anything in the area you may need.
If summer camp becomes a reality, make sure your child is well exposed to the idea of going to summer camp. To make it easier on everyone, don’t forget to let the camp know your summer schedule for wake up times and bedtimes, so they can help you stay on track or allow you the chance to transition your child to fit their camp schedule.
No matter how you plan to get your break, try not to worry too much and enjoy the downtime! Do not spend it on doing chores or work-related tasks, as most of us end up doing! TAKE A BREAK!
– Michelle O’Neill, AHSS Lead Skills Coach and mother to a special needs child, plus 2!