The term self-care is all too often thrown around as something that is easy to simply fit into your crazy busy and hectic day. It is yet another thing that needs to be done between making sure everyone is fed, the ‘right’ therapy is chosen, are the right lessons in place, researching autisms, making the right decisions and the list just goes on and on. Self-care is also often thought of as long spa days, weekends away without the kids or spending lots of money on oneself and generally an impossible task, no autism parent has time or money for that!

So why even raise this as a topic? Because it is important to your self-preservation as parent that is on an exceedingly difficult journey, you are required to be a warrior and even warriors need to refill the tank. Here are some practical and realistic ways to practice self-care. Please don’t try and do them all find one or two that resonate with you and prioritise yourself for a moment every day.

  • Step outside and soak up the sun. Vitamin D is needed for a good mood and the warm sun on your back is good for the soul.
  • Listen to your favourite music or song. Even if its just one song while you are alone in your car after dropping your kids off.
  • Disconnect from your smart devices for a moment. I promise all the information, messages and emails will still be there when you reconnect. If you can disconnect from them from 8pm-6am even better.
  • Feed your body nutritional food. I get that you are all focused on what your child can and can’t eat and that it can be a daily battle to get them to eat or drink what is good for them. But don’t forget to feed yourself wholesome food too, the principle of feeding your child healthy food so that their brain can function properly applies to you too!
  • ‘It takes a village to raise a child and an even bigger one to raise a child on the autism spectrum’. Find or build your village, even warriors need armies. Your village can include your spouse or partner, family members, friends, your ABA team, other parents with children on the autism spectrum, au-pairs, domestic helpers.
  • Feed your soul. Find what works for you even if it is only for a few minutes a day. Journaling, mediation, prayer, exercise, reading a good book (that is not one on Autism), coffee with a friend, coffee on your own… reconnect with your soul.
  • Talk to other adults. As parents we often spend so much time with our kids that we forget to spend time with and talk to other adults.
  • Find your own space, one that is just yours. It could be as simple as insisting that you shower alone without interruption from anyone.
  • Sleep! I know that this can be nearly impossible at times, but if your child isn’t sleeping well and keeps you up, let your case supervisor know so that they can help.
  • Find a good series on Netflix, prioritise watching one episode a week.
  • Find a therapist that you connect with that can help you with your stuff.

Janine Clark

Case Manager and Registered Counsellor