Advocacy

Why Respite Isn’t A Luxury

The calendar is full. Full of everything except the things that I really want to do. Instead, it’s multi-colored with tabs that include everything from grocery trips, housework, activities and appointments.  I feel like I’m always playing a twisted game that I like to call “Catch Up If You Can” as I try to balance all of Giselle’s appointments, making sure everyone’s needs are met, and that often times means that mine are not.

 

I know that I am not alone in this crazy circle of raising children and a special needs child, but I have recognized that the unhealthy patterns of over-stress will eventually leave me one step away from a total emotional breakdown if I keep minimizing it as “not a big deal”. This post is really a personal reminder because I am not great in unplugging.

 

Responsibilities need to get done. They HAVE to get done, to be honest. If not the entire world will implode and you will be solely responsible for the extinction of the entire human race!!!

 

Or so it feels that way at times.

 

What is respite anyways? Well it’s a fancy word for ‘rest’ and is often used in reference to providing caregivers with a much needed break. Yes, that awesome, amazing moment of silence and tranquility in which you have the freedom to just be still – even if it means simply taking a shower without an audience.

This breakdown pretty much sums up the beneifts:

Relaxation. Respite gives families peace of mind, helps them to relax, and renews their humor and energy;
Enjoyment. Respite allows families to enjoy favorite pastimes and pursue new interests and activities;
Stability. Respite improves the family’s ability to cope with the daily responsibilities and maintain stability during crisis;
Preservation. Respite helps preserve the family unit and lessens the pressures that might lead to out-of-home placement, divorce, abuse and neglect;
Involvement. Respite allows a families time off to become involved in community activities and to feel less isolated
Time off. Respite allows a family to take that much needed vacation, spend time together, or time alone, and
Enrichment. Respite makes it possible for family members to establish individual identifies and to enrich their own growth and development.

(Parenthood in America by Nancy Olson)

 

However, there are many reasons why moms don’t get a chance to rest. For one, we don’t ask – and our reasoning for not asking can consist of a long list of things including the fear of leaving the kids with someone else, the sense of diminished control if you leave them with someone else, and the idea that asking for help is not very “motherly”.

 

For special needs moms, it can be even more of a challenge since finding someone equipped and/or willing to babysit can be daunting and trying to unplug sometimes seems impossible. It feels as if we are to  be all things, for all people, at all times.

 

However, whatever the reason is, it needs to be overcome some way, somehow. Sure, for every family it will look different, but I cannot stress the fact that respite isn’t and shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s a necessity.

 

Whether you sit in the care alone for 15 minutes while someone watches the kids or schedule weekly/biweekly/monthly date nights or outing, YOUR SANITY IS IMPERATIVE because nothing works well on empty – including you. Schedule it on the calendar and make it nonnegotiable and noncancelable (to the best of your ability).  I’ve come to realize that regardless of what something may be, if it’s important people will ALWAYS make time for it.

 

There is no shame in needing a minute or asking for help, because what good does it do if you are so busy trying to be Super Mom and ultimately run yourself into the ground? Find the time to fill your cup so you can keep pouring it out on the ones you love.

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