So it’s been a pretty slow start to 2017 for me (as you can tell, this being February and the first post of the new year…) and I can probably come up with a lot of reasons from getting over the holidays and back into routine, to family sickness but what I think has put a dent in my motivation is just feeling plain tired.

As a caregiver of two kids with FASD, I’ve gone through some pretty stressful periods but I can’t say that it’s been all that bad over the past month. Sure the holidays were a little stressful with the excitement and change of routine but the kids have done pretty well and there hasn’t been any extreme issues to deal with. So it got me thinking about self-care and maybe after a year of ups-and-downs I needed to make some changes. My goals this year are to live healthier and to schedule time to recharge.

By living healthier and by taking time to recharge I hope to have more energy and to be in a better state of mind to deal with each day’s challenges. With many of the things that caregivers deal with like daily meltdowns and confrontations with their loved one with FASD, advocating with professionals, dealing with problems at school, explaining to people who don’t understand, it’s not so surprising that without consistent periods of rest we will reach our limit and our body and mind will force us to take a break. I also find that I have to actually schedule time to recharge, otherwise other things get in the way and I don’t do it.

Some caregivers struggle with feeling guilty about taking time for themselves. They may feel selfish leaving their kids, whether it’s an overnight with their partner or just going out for dinner alone or taking time to catch up on sleep. It’s truly not selfish, if we take better care of ourselves then we can better care for others.

Another big challenge for a lot of caregivers is the lack of a support system or not having someone to take care of their loved one so they can get a break. I found some good suggestions on finding a respite worker on FASD ONE’s website*:

  • Be on the lookout for people who naturally connect with your child and have an understanding or wish to understand FASD. It could be an assistant at school, a swim instructor, a camp counsellor, a retired teacher or a university student who wants to volunteer.
  • Ask questions of other parents/caregivers you meet at other activities to find out who they use.
  • Visit your local children’s’ mental health services, community centre’s, coffee shops, college, place of worship or library and talk to people. You never know where you may find a caring person with appropriate skills who can connect with your child.
  • Register with www.respiteservices.com to take advantage of their worker database (note: you must qualify).
  • Ask your children’s school or mental health treatment services for a list of any known respite programs or opportunities.

When time can be found, do what helps you to de-stress or relax. As an artist/graphic designer I recharge by doing creative things like painting, creative journaling and card-making. Everyone is different and if you don’t know what will help you then explore different hobbies or activities or just go for a walk around the block to give you a change of scenery.

Share your thoughts on other ways you get recharged in the comments section. Check out the links below for more information on respite:

FASD ONE

Lutherwood

* A couple suggestions I wouldn’t endorse such as posting ads on Kijiji or Craigslist because of potential safety issues.