My mother used to say, “You can’t give from an empty bucket.” I’m not exactly sure that’s true. I understand the principle behind the statement, but I belive that parents have the ability to somehow keep giving even after their “bucket” is woefully dry. It’s amazing how parents–and mothers especially–seem to always find the strength to keep going and giving, putting themselves last.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to meet your child’s special needs if you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally bankrupt. So if you’re operating with “empty bucket syndrome,” I hope you’ll reevaluate. It’s time to start seeing nourishing yourself as an important part of your child’s care.
Here are six things I’d like you to do today, to nurture yourself:
1. Get a sitter. Have you got a babysitter for this weekend? Time to call one. For now, try a relative or good friend. If people seem to have plans during the evenings, get a sitter for Saturday afternoon. But make sure to arrange time off for yourself. Meanwhile, look into scheduling a regular weekend caregiver. I had a Friday night sitter when my son Kyle’s autism was particularly difficult. It was a wonderful gift to myself. I hired her as a respite worker, and got state funding. See my blog: “Give me a break: Finding a babysitter for your special needs child.”
2. Plan something fun to do with your free time. It can be simple, small and inexpensive. Could you lose yourself in a library or bookstore? Visit a candy store and buy a few select morsels? Go out to lunch with a friend? Window shop at the mall? See a movie in the theatre with your spouse? If your child is a toddler, use naps to your benefit. Don’t sit around watching television. Take a bubble bath or read a book on the front porch. Maybe take a nap along with your child, to get some much-needed rest?
3. Decorate your day. Buy a bouquet of flowers, or cut some from your garden, and place them in a vase somewhere visible in your home. There are psychological benefits that come from seeing, smelling, and enjoying flowers. Getting yourself a bouquet of flowers is one of the first recommendations in the book, “Eight Weeks to Optimum Health.” by Andrew Weil, M.D.
4. Schedule your annual physical examination. What’s that? Did you forget that your health is important too? So what if you don’t feel sick. A yearly physical is important to catch problems before they become serious. And if you’re exhausted, your doctor can make recommendations to help improve your mood and well-being. Hate doctors? Consider your child’s fate if you become unwell. It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself.
5. Go out on a walk. If you dislike exercise, try seeing a walk as a way to get some fresh air and get out of the house for a while, rather than a tedious chore to lose weight. Bring your child in her stroller or wheelchair, or let her walk along. Play “I spy” or talk about the things you see. Right now there are gorgeous trees in their fall colors to admire. Exercise is both a mood elevator and stress reliever, and it’s certainly good for your health.
6. Renew an old interest. Think about a talent or hobby that you’ve put aside and consider pursuing it again, even if it only gets an hour of your attention per week. Do you play the piano? Paint? Write? Shoot baskets? Sew? Rollerskate? I heard a story of a young couple whose baby was born with hydrocephaly, and was struggling for life. During those dark days of anguish, the young father got out his old model trains he used as a boy, and began reassembling them in his spare time. This was his way of replenishing himself. He reached back to something from his past which had once brought him joy and hope. What forgotten parts of yourself could you revitalize?
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.