Happy Mother’s Day! We asked mums from the Netbuddy community (now part of Scope) to pass on their top tips for making it work. Here’s what they had to say:
Choose your battles
I have learned the hard way to choose my battles carefully. I have to decide which battles really are important for me to win and which I can leave. The important ones involve safety and health. Some others you have to let slip for your own sanity!
Do a happiness audit
Think about what gives you happy feelings and do it as often as possible – whether it’s singing, dancing, laughing, sex or chocolate. Create a ‘Prescription for change’ for yourself, listing the things you need twice a day & twice a week. Then stick it on your fridge.
Be honest about your limits
Therapists mean well when they give you lots of exercises to do with your child, but sometimes, it’s impossible to keep up with them and still have time to do stuff like eat, sleep and breathe. Be open with the therapists if you feel overwhelmed, or need more ideas for exercises that can be an organic part of your day (say, bicycling a tot’s legs as you change her nappy).
Face to face
Talking to other parents who are going through the same thing as you is always helpful. Face 2 Face is a one to one parent befriending service, run by Scope, for parents and family of disabled children.
Get plenty of exercise
Exercise is great for your overall mood. I’ve taken up weights, because my son is large and I worry that one day I won’t be able to manage him. Being fit has given me huge confidence in how I manage my son, which in turn has improved his behaviour.
Schedule time for yourself
Try to make a little quality time for yourself each day even if this means leaving the person you care for in front on their favourite DVD or TV program for half an hour. It won’t do them any harm! If you can, try and take half a day a week off – book a babysitter, book your child into a crèche/playscheme, play date, or family – give yourself that time to re-charge.
It’s ok to ask for help
Friends and family are often very happy to help, but don’t know unless you tell them. Draw up a list of suggestions you can use to ask friends and family for help, for example school runs, baking birthday cakes, mowing the lawn, helping siblings with homework, being on an emergency rota for overnight hospital stays.
Organize your home life
Buy two of non-perishable items like washing up liquid, so you always have one in reserve. Have a whiteboard in the kitchen to write on when things run out. Plan your meals for the week – even think about having Tuesday as curry night, Wednesday pasta, Friday fish, etc. to save time thinking. If you can afford to, get a cleaner.
Yoga for you
Take up Yoga to stop muscle injuries especially if you have to do lots of lifting and carrying.
Friends and hobbies
Friends and hobbies are enormously important because they take you out of your role as a carer for a short while. I try and mix with people who aren’t carers too, so I get to focus on something else for a bit.
I started running after the birth of my disabled daughter 8 years ago. It’s my time out – time for me to de-stress, clear my head & take out my frustration on the streets. I come back a happier & calmer person, ready to deal with the real world again. I think we all need time out for ourselves.
A positive note
When you have a disabled child, filling in forms can be very depressing as you focus entirely on the negative. So I write on a separate sheet of paper one good point for every negative. I laminate this and put on the fridge so that when things are tough I can read it and remind myself of the fab things about my three disabled children.
Wear lipstick … always! In good colours – preferably expensive!
Toe nail painting is also very encouraging.
What are your top tips? Let us know in the comments below.
Read one of our fantastic posts from mums recently: