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Back to School Time – Taking Care of You

A new school year has begun! For a child on the autism spectrum, going back to school and leaving summer behind, can be very difficult. After all, you and your family have gotten into a different daily summer routine. Homework and parent-teacher meetings are not a part of the equation. A change in schedule and routine can be very challenging for any child, but also for parents and families of children on the autism spectrum.

Are you finding that the stress of this time of year is affecting your emotional or physical health? If so, taking care of you can’t be an option, it is a must! Taking care of yourself is sure to help your relationship with your child, and serve as a great example for them. Not only will you feel refreshed and ready to start your days with a brighter outlook, but that energy is seen and felt by the kids, and they in turn benefit. Here are a few self care suggestions to help make sure you are prepared emotionally and physically for this time of the year.

Starting the Morning, With YOU
Instead of waking up at 7:00am, try to roll out of bed at 6:50am. Why? You deserve to roll into 10 minutes for only you. Doing this before getting the kids up, can really help get your day going in a positive way. What gets you centered in the morning? Prayer, meditation, exercise? Whatever it is, this could be the time to do it, before the hectic morning routine of getting the kids off to school. If meditation is your route, there are thousands of free short meditations available on YouTube and other internet sites. Even if that 10 minutes is used to go on Pinterest and look for the latest…anything, that’s ok too. It’s your time. If more physical activities are your way to center, try to get in 10 minutes or so of stretching or jogging. Taking care of yourself makes you more equipped and ready to take care of your child.

Chat With Other Parents
Some of the best ideas you can get to de-stress, are those you can learn from other parents. All parents face this annual back to school challenge, and have certainly gotten better and better at it. Soak up their knowledge. Find some local parent groups in your area where you can exchange ideas to make the back to school season, seamless in your household. There are hundreds of Meetup groups on listed for parents of children on the spectrum. Try to make time to go to lunch or dinner with other parents, or even host a get together at your home if finding a sitter is an issue. Just knowing that someone else is encountering what you are, can help tremendously during the back to school season, and other potentially stressful times. If you would like some additional inspiration from parents, please check out this book from the BY YOUR SIDE recommended book list, called Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parents of Children With Autism. It provides 101 inspirational stories from parents of children with autism.

Reclaim Your Hobbies (Or Start One)
Were you once a scrapbooking guru? What about writing? Playing the piano? If you had a relaxing hobby, that has slipped away, why not restart it? Hobbies can help you to focus on you, and clear your mind of back to school challenges you are facing with your child on the spectrum, the boss at work, or finances. Consider taking up a new hobby, if you have lost interest in old ones. Having an outlet, even if for a few times each week, can help to lower the stress of transition times such as back to school season. Even if you think your hobby is silly, who cares! It is your hobby, and your time. So please, start collecting stamps again, or putting 1000 piece puzzles together! Any activity that you can do on your own, and make it all about you, is a great one. Having your own hobby is also a great example of appropriate leisure skills to model for your child.

You AND your child will gain from you taking care of you, and taking a little time for yourself.
It is understandable that making time for yourself can be very difficult, with all of other tasks in your daily life. So, why not start small? Having just a few minutes of “you” time can make a big difference. These few minutes can help you to function better, as a parent , and person overall.

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