As mums I think we always question ourselves . Are we doing enough ? Could we do more ? Are we a good mum ? As special needs mums, this is no exception and is probably even more prevalent. I have come up with a list of 5 things I believe are important to make us better mums. I am not an expert , merely a mum myself , but I hope this post will help.
1. Exercise and make time for yourself.
I have put this as number one as I believe that as mums we need to look after ourselves as much as we look after our children. I know as mums we must put our children first and we do , however I think self care should be just as much of a priority. After all if we are not mentally and physically well , how are we going to be able to take care of our young ones. This is especially the case when parenting special needs children. This can be an exhausting job and it’s important that as mums we find the time to rest.
I’m not suggesting that if your child is hungry and needs a meal that you prioritise your sleep over that and take a nap while your child stays hungry, I just believe that we should all make time to rest. Easier said than done , I know , but this is where we need to ask for help ! There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It does not make us weak or a failure , it makes us responsible and caring mothers .
Exercise is a fantastic natural anti depressant and is a great mood lifter. I regularly run or walk and i find it really helps to make me a happier person and that’s what our children need , a happy mum and happy parents.
Hobbies are also a great way of relaxing and taking time away from being a mum. If your anything like me, you feel guilty when you indulge in a hobby but we need to remember that while we are mums, and yes that is the best job in the whole world, we are also individual women with our own interests and yes, that is allowed.
2. Stop criticising yourself and comparing yourself to other mums.
Its too easy to compare the way we bring up our children, with other mums. However what we need to remember, especially as parents of special needs kids, is that each of our children are individual, with their very own unique needs. No one knows better than you, how to raise your child. I think too often we forget that and critisize ourselves, when really we are doing a fantastic job. If your child is happy ,fed and regularly gives you hugs (if they are able to) then you are doing a pretty amazing job.
We also need to stop letting others judgement of us, effect us. Nobody knows what you go through day in day out as a special needs parent, so nobody has the right to judge you. Next time your little one has a meltdown in public and some snotty nosed mum gives you a look, just ignore it and know that what you are doing is right for you and your child. The chances are that person judging you, has no idea what your daily life involves.
3. Learn to ask for and accept help.
Accepting some help when you need it, is not a sign of weakness or failure. It actually makes you a responsible and mature mother. If you are lucky enough to have family around, then embrace that and accept help when its offered and ask for help when its needed. And, dont feel guilty about it. Its benefitial for children to form relationships with other members of the family. If you worry they dont know how to look after your child properly, remember that they themselves have likely raised children at some point and they might actually be a great resource for you. You can always show them the ropes and once it becomes a routine, it will get easier for everyone. Learn to accept the help now and in the future it will become easier.
If your not fortunate enough to have family local to you, then find out about local support groups and services available to you. Every county has provision for special needs and particuarly if your child has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) you will most likely be entitled to a lot more than you might realise.I myself need to look into this as unfortunately my family are not local.
4. Make time to listen, play and communicate with your child. Daily.
This might sound patronising to some, but its not intended in that way, but is is suprising how many parents I see at the park or out with their children, that are glued to their mobile phones. I too am guilty of doing this at times, I am far from perfect, but what I try to do every day and I believe we should all do to make us better parents, is to actually put the phone away and engage with our little ones. Listen to what they are saying, its important, and if thay cannot talk, listen to what they are trying to say with other means of communication. Whatever our children have to say, it matters. Its the most important thing you will hear today. Listening to them, teaches them that they are worth listening to, and what they say matters and this will build their self esteem and confidence. I believe this to be true for all children but particuarly special needs children, as they are often more vulnerable to mental health problems later on in life.
Ok so we are all busy and I get that we cannot sit and play with our children all day, every day. If we can sit with our children for a little bit daily, and engage with them and whatever activity they are doing, this will benefit them and us greatly. I think we need to remember that they won,t be little for long and they grow up fast so we need to cherish these little moments while we can. Reading to my son is something we enjoy together daily. Its a time when we can talk about the day too and practice some reading and listening skills. Each child is different and their needs vary but whatever play time consists of for your child, just join in for a little part of it, each day.
5. Routine and consistency.
Again I think most children thrive with a routine but I think its important more than ever with special needs children. My son likes to know whats going to happen next and if that changes he will become very distressed. He likes to know what to expect and this is where routine and consistency work. Its imporant to let them know that plans do change however and that life can be unpredictable but where possible i think having a routine creates a calmer home environment. Again all children require a different routine and level of consistency when following that routine so only you can know what your child needs.
Of course you can always ask for feedback on your parenting skills, right from the horse’s mouth. Ask your child. I ask my son if i am a good mummy, most days. If he is angry with me he will say no I am a bad mummy, I am like Miss Trunchbull. But if he is happy with me, he will say I am a good mummy, I am like Miss Honey. For those of you familiar with Matilda, you will know who he is referring to.
As i said before, I am not an expert and I am far from perfect but in this post I have just shared what I believe will help, and what I myself have found helps me and my son. If I have helped even one mum feel a bit better today, then I have achieved what I wanted. Please feel free to comment and share your tips for being a better mum, as I dont know about you, but I am always wondering, is there more I could do? Am I enough ?
Thankyou for reading and if you think it will help please click on the share icon at the bottom.