How To Be A Good Parent With A Disability
If you're disabled or have any kind of health condition whether physical or mental, parenting can be even more of a challenge. This can be tough, as any parent knows that caring for a young child can be difficult enough, without adding more difficulties on top of that challenge. You can use these helpful tips to help you to turn the challenges you hope into a more positive outlook, hope, and small wins. Make sure that your children feel loved, safe, and secure, even on days when you're finding things hard work. Even if you're unwell, you can create an atmosphere of hope, address any concerns your children might have with patience, and stay positive.
As a parent living with any kind of disability or illness, you are on a 24-hour shift, with no opportunity for a break. You're always Mom or Dad. Just when you think you really need to take a break and rest, the demands of parenting can take over, whether you need to step in in a squabble between the children, get dinner on the table, pick the children up from school, drop them off at football practice, play with the baby, or something else. All of these demands on your time can soon take a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental health. The last thing you need on the days where you feel the most tired or unwell is a messy, loud, and busy house. Unfortunately, all of these things are often the reality of having children. The most important thing as a parent is to learn to accept this and find the best ways to cope with the daily struggles of parenting.
Dealing with disability as a parent? Here are the things that you need to remember:
You come first
If you don't already know how to properly take care of yourself, then you need to learn how to do this and put some self-care first. Putting the focus on yourself might sound like a selfish thing to do. You might worry that it is a bit counter-intuitive to put your needs before the needs of your family, but you need to take into account that caring for yourself is an important thing that you will need to know how to do if you are going to manage to maintain the best levels of health that you can. After all, you won't be able to look after anyone else if you can't look after yourself. Caring for yourself is a good behavior to model for your children too, so they can see that self-care matters.
Create time for relaxation
What do you find relaxing to do? Whatever it is, make time for it. Watch a movie, read a book, arrange lunch with your friends or a date with your partner, watch TV, go to the gym, try meditation, or just go to bed early. If you try to be on all the time and do everything for everyone, you will just end up getting burnt out, and then you won't be able to take care of anyone. You need to learn to delegate roles and ask for help from others if you can. For example, when it's time for bed, ask your partner to put the children to bed and read them their bedtime stories, so you can have a soak in the bath and an early night. Ask their grandparents to babysit so you can go out with your spouse or get to the gym. It's ok to reach out for some help.
Adopt a positive mindset
Learn to look for the positive things in your life. Get in the habit of counting your blessings on a regular basis. Name them one by one and take a moment to feel good about each one. Even when things are hard, there is plenty to be thankful for. Try to learn not to dwell on the difficult things that have happened to you in the past or that are happening now. Of course, this can be easier said than done, but it just takes a bit of practice. It can help to keep in mind that you are not your illness. This is a skill that takes practice and it can be done if you try.
Learn to accept unpredictability
Chronic health conditions and disabilities are often unpredictable so it is important to learn to accept that you cannot always change or control things. One day you might wake up and feel strong and healthy, and ready to take on the world, but the next day you might wake up feeling tired and uncomfortable, and like you can't manage to be a good parent today. This is one of the most difficult parts of disability or chronic illnesses. As a parent living with a disability chronic health condition, it is inevitable that it will bring you some stress and make you feel frustrated more often than other parents might do. You might sometimes wish that you could do more than you can and be more like every other parent out there, but you need to remember that tough parenting days happen to everybody. Letting yourself feel guilty will only make you feel worse than you already do. The needs of your children can feel endless, huge, and constant, but your physical well-being may not be up to the task. Understanding this fact, accepting it, and helping the rest of the family around you to accept and understand the challenges too can go a long way in reducing your stress and frustration.
Join support groups and ask for help
Asking for help is a hard, but brave thing to do, so never feel guilty if you need more help or support. Reaching out to other people who are dealing with similar issues to you can give you that support, as well as being a source of friendship and advice.
You can find support groups online or in person. If you want to find people online, look for Facebook groups or forums. For real-life, look for in-person meet-ups in your local area. You might be able to find a group for parents with your specific condition, or parents with disabilities, or just for disabled people. These groups can be somewhere to offload the hardships to someone who understands, make friends who understand your struggles, or just get tips for managing, whether it's recommendations for wheelchair bags with enough room for everything you need to carry for the kids or self-care tips that work for your condition.
A support group is important to have, as it can be a great place to get some much-needed support and could be somewhere to make some great new and understanding friends. You don't need to struggle by yourself. Even if your family and friends are supportive, it can really help to speak to someone dealing with the same struggles as you are.
Seek help from a mental health provider
Stress is a fact of life for all parents, but if you are living with a disability and trying to balance this with your job as a parent, you might be under even more stress than others. There is no shame in asking for help and guidance from a mental health professional if you need more help. This could be in the form of seeing a psychologist, counselor, therapist, or other professional. They can teach you the tools to cope more effectively with the daily challenges of parenting.