Show yourself some love

By Kelly Wilton

The infamous day of love is here – Valentine’s Day. How do you possibly keep a spark going when you haven’t a spark to spare?!

We completely understand if it’s not on your list of high priorities. As special needs parents in a COVID world, it’s hard to keep the love going when you are just getting through the days in survival mode.

When we are dealing with challenging behaviours from our kids due to sensory, cognitive and developmental concerns; anxiety, depression, plus all else we may do on any given day including but not limited to – feeding, medication, self-care, it’s safe to say you are probably worn out before the day has even begun!

But don’t worry! We are not going to give you a list of unreasonable requests that just don’t work for our unique parenting roles. Instead, the below can be done by yourself or with a partner. Wherever your headspace is at and what you feel will work best for you.

Psychology tells us that when we do something we love and which promotes nostalgia, it helps reduce anxiety. It is a simple way of controlling our emotions when the entire world feels out of control.

Here are some quick and simple ideas to dip into a bit of nostalgia during your day –

Food glorious food
Treat yourself with some of your favourite food today. It can be as simple as your favourite biscuit, a takeaway coffee, chocolate that you buy for special occasions, your favourite cheese.  Or if you want to go bigger, your favourite takeaway for dinner. The kids will be fine with their regular chicken nuggets! Go ahead and order something that you can enjoy once they are tucked up in bed. Try and savour every mouthful, let your mind have a break for a couple of moments, while your taste buds take you on a journey with some fond memories.

The Goggle Box

Whether you have Netflix, Stan or even YouTube on your device, watching an old favourite movie or TV show will lift you up and give you a feel-good buzz. Remember the life we had before parenting and adulting came along? Just think of the movies and shows you would wait a whole week to see the next episode! Was it Seinfeld, Friends, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, are you sensing an 80s/90s era theme here? Whatever is your jam, go find it again and get a giggle – it will lift you up, just like the old days!

Let go of guilt

There is so much guilt that comes with special needs parenting. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for our friends and family who don’t live this life, to have any idea the ongoing internal battle that we have with ourselves daily. We know deep down it’s not healthy for us. It induces anxiety, health-related conditions and causes us to feel like crap. It’s not anyone’s fault that they can’t fully appreciate the responsibility that comes with our role of parent-carer. However, we do know and can appreciate the significance of the role we play. It’s up to us to remember that what we do IS ENOUGH. Every day you show up and get what needs to be done. So, please drop your guilt. Be proud of what you do for your child and importantly remember to do it for yourself too.

I like to think we’ve been given a gift this Valentine’s Day, a reminder from our very own kids – embrace the joy in routine, the joy in familiarity and never forget the extraordinary!

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