The special needs world can be quite lonely a lot of the time. Especially during entire seasons like RSV season where exposure for someone with little to no immune system can be deadly. So in those moments we are forced to lock ourselves down for months at a time and dwell in the loneliness. Outside of those times, it becomes difficult to maintain friendships with people you can only hang out with six months of the year.
During the six months of ‘lockdown’, parents will turn to Facebook for support from other parents that understand what you are dealing with and can offer suggestions on fun stuff and how to make it through. Some of our most understanding friendships stem from support groups for children with similar conditions.
But socializing outside of the home is very important. For support and for sanity.
Finding other parents with preemies or special needs can be a nice release. Being around other parents that understand your challenges even if they aren’t the same can be a huge relief. Finding local moms on places like Facebook or even sites like Meetup.com can help you gain a few friends that could meet for playgroups, sibling groups or even coffee dates provided you have other care for the children. I know here in my area we have organizations that assist families with special needs and they have groups for siblings. Having contact with these types of organizations can provide a sense of community as well as a therapeutic release for the family as a whole.
We have found a large source of support from our church family. Not only the ability to grow in faith, but the community as a whole that being a member in a church can provide in times of heartache but also times of joy is amazing. Even if you are not religious, finding a faith based group can provide a sense of support.
Call a friend. Even if you haven’t spoken in a while, chances are they will understand why, and even if the time has been long, its likely they didn’t know what to say so they were waiting for your call. Go to get coffee, walk around the mall, do your grocery shopping together. Do something to get away from your house and out of your head a bit. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to do something that reminds us that no matter if we are mothers, wives, husbands or fathers, that we are still people and while we spend our lives nurturing others and our relationships, sometimes we just need to take time and ‘recharge’ our own batteries for a bit.
Date night. VERY IMPORTANT! We get so focused on taking care of our special needs children, and balancing them with our other children, responsibilities, housework, errands, and other stuff that we often forget to nurture our marriages and romantic relationships. I, too, am very guilty of this. Sometimes its more than hard to do this. We spend any extra money we might have on medical supplies and all of those things we as parents need to provide for our children. Money’s tight, budgets are stretched, emotions are high and everyone is exhausted. But as much as we all need to recharge our own personal batteries we need to recharge our relationship batteries as well. Find a couple of hours even if its just putting the kids to bed early and eating ice cream and drinking wine on the back porch as if no one else is there! I highly suggest finding babysitters and getting OUT of the house if possible and financially available.