At the end of our NAMI meetings, one of the things we go around the room to ask is ‘What will you do for yourself in the coming weeks?”. This is an important question. Caregivers tend to forget to do things for themselves when their focus is on their loved one with challenges. The things we do for ourselves help us to reduce the stress of our lives. Being a little selfish is ok. Helping ourselves, in-turn, helps our children. That statement goes for ALL parents, not just those with special needs kiddos. Unfortunately, it’s a statement that I forget…..a lot. When it comes to the end of our meetings and that questions is asked, I usually have to search for an answer. This week, I did 2 things for myself.
The first one was my hair. I know, that may sound silly….but in my life, spending a day in a salon is not something that happens very often. Not only did I get my hair done…..I had it colored pink. I have done pink highlights for a few years now….but this time I went all in, and it made me so happy. Every time I look in the mirror, I smile. Isn’t that what self-care should do….make us feel better? Well, I feel better with pink hair. I know my grandmother will be disappointed, but she is not the one in the mirror looking back at me every day…..and it is that person who I need to make happy. We forget that sometimes….that our happiness is important. We worry about what others will think….of us, of our kids, of our lives….but what matters most is what we think. Do you like yourself? Are you teaching your children to like themselves? Is your life bringing you joy? These are the important things to remember.
The second thing I did was take a class on suicide prevention in teenagers. I know that may not sound like self care…but it actually makes me feel good to learn new things….any new thing. I took the day off of work, my husband took on the drop off and pick up duties for my son and I left for the day…..to learn ways to help other kids in need. If that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is. I have spent so many years learning everything I can about mental illnesses and neurological disorders in children to help my son. It makes me happy to use that knowledge to help other children and their parents. This blog was the first step….and now I am getting ready for a few more steps in that direction.
I always say it is important to teach our children that they are not their illness….they should not let their illness define them. They are so much more than that…..and so are we. We are not just parents of special needs kids. We are human beings that need to be a little selfish every once in a while….and that’s ok.
What will you do to take care of yourself this week?
*NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness – To find a NAMI support group in your area, go to:
The Suicide prevention class I took was called Lifelines and it was provided by The Society for Prevention of Teen Suicide. They also offer a free online certification training for educators on their website: