Special Needs Parenting and Self-care: Ask for Help

June 27, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Self-Care. I've been sharing my perspective on self-care for parents with a child diagnosed with mental illness for a few months now. So many of the parents I work with don't practice good self-care. It is probably the last thing you think about at the end of a long, hectic day. You have bills to pay, a home to clean and a family to care for. So where do you fit in? When do you get your self-care?

What is Self-Care Anyway?

Self-Care is about doing things for yourself - eating right, getting enough sleep, saying no or taking a time-out. All of these things can help you better parent your child with mental illness. Taking care of yourself does several things. It allows you to recharge your batteries, share the burden of caring for a child with mental illness and give your child a good example of how to manage his or her symptoms. And really, how can you give your child the best of you if you don't take care of yourself?

Me? Ask for Help?

Asking for help can sometimes feel like saying that you're not strong enough. That you're not capable. That you can't handle things well. But, it isn't the truth. I know. I've been working closer with Bob's father to help me take care of myself for the last couple of months. Some of the previous mentions of Bob's father have not been positive. In fact, it felt much easier to parent Bob mostly on my own, without reaching out to Bob's father for support because it was so frustrating. Two months ago, I had to eat crow. I had to ask for help.

Wound Up Tight

Over the last few months, I've noticed a change in myself. I've been more stressed out, more emotional and easily frustrated in general. With Bob's recent issues with medication and school, I was getting frustrated even faster. And I was wound up tight. I finally realized that I needed to ask for help. And that help came from one unlikely place - Bob's father.

Ask for Help

Asking for Help is Hard

Being a single working mom with a child diagnosed with ADHD and little family support, I learned to depend on myself to get things done. Yes, I had teachers, doctors, and therapists on my support team, but I trusted myself to make sure that Bob had everything he needed - including an evaluation, therapy and medication. In the two years since all of that, I've been okay. Except for the past few months that I've been focusing more on my own self-care. That being said, I needed to suck it up and ask Bob's father to help me more with Bob. And hard as it was to ask (and accept) for help, it has been wonderful.

Benefits of Asking for Help

With Bob's father stepping in more often, I've been able to share to share the burden of parenting Bob. Discipline, tough conversations and decision-making has been much easier since I've asked for help. Bob's father has been there to consult with if I'm unsure of what to do or in case I need back-up with Bob. I've also been able to enjoy more time off without worrying so much. I've been able to focus on the other roles I play - single woman, friend, therapist, writer, etc. And I've been much better for it.

Parents, the next time you need a helping hand, just ask. You'll never know what you'll get. How has asking for help benefitted you and your child?
photo credit: deeplifequotes via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, June 27). Special Needs Parenting and Self-care: Ask for Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 25 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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