It can be challenging for parents of children with complex needs to prioritise their own needs, and asking for help can feel hard. But when parents are able to find small ways to take care of themselves, it can help them to keep up with the challenges of parenting and give them the space emotionally, mentally and physically to continue providing for others. Importantly, it also means they are modelling healthy behaviour for their children and giving them the tools for their own self-care that they can take into adulthood.
For more information on the importance of self-care for parents, head here:
Signs of stress
Stress is a common part of life. It can be helpful for parents to take note of what situations trigger stress in their lives, and to learn their own signs of stress. That way, they can plan ahead for managing any stressful situations that might crop up.
You can find information on common signs of stress and stress management here:
Tips for parent self-care
There are many tips out there to help parents find practical and affordable ways to prioritise their own needs every once in a while. Some focus on physical wellbeing by promoting adequate nutrition, sleep and exercise. Others remind parents to take care of their emotional, psychological, relational, spiritual and even creative needs. Self-care activities are best when they’re healthy and safe options. For example, smoking and drinking may feel great in the short term, but are not recommended in the long term.
Keep in mind it can be important to engage in helpful self-care activities regularly, and not just when a crisis hits. This can help buffer the impact of any stressful events that might occur in parents’ lives.
You can find tips on helping parents to look after themselves at Raising Children Network and NGALA.
You can also use our parent tip sheets on ‘Eating and Drinking’, ‘Relaxation Skills’ and ‘Staying Connected’ to help parents build their own self-care plan. The "Coping toolkit” at RCN also has some tip sheets for practicing relaxation and mindfulness.