Autism Parents: Are You Making Time to Make You Happy?

Dear Autism Parents: Are You Making Time for You? Well hello there autism parents,

Yes you. Wonderful, superhero YOU!

If you’re anything like me, you might have lost yourself while you’ve been fighting the good fight. So grab a drink and have a read. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this article and it’ll provide some food for thought.

Something I’ve noticed lately is the happiest parents I know are the ones who make time for themselves.

Of course we should always be putting our children first, that goes without saying. However, I’m beginning to realise that the mama’s and papa’s who make time for them, both individually and as a couple, are the happiest overall. Factors such as on hand family support, and a good amount of disposable income also help, but they aren’t essential to engineering me time. 

I must admit that it irks me when celebs tell ordinary folk about the merits of me time. Then go about spouting the usual – go to classes, have a massage, take a long lunch. Clearly they don’t realise that not everyone can afford a gym membership, babysitters fees and weekly trips to fancy restaurants! 

Let’s not beat around the bush. Raising kids is not an easy ride, and when you chuck autism into the mix, it can be grindingly hard.

Every. Single. Day.

Which is why making time for ourselves is so important.

After all, if you can’t look after you, you can’t look after anyone else. It’s why they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first in the event of an aeroplane crash.

Do you know lots of autism parents getting to do the things that make them happy? Or are they mostly putting out fires, recovering from meltdowns and rushing from one appointment to the next?

I was acing this happiness malarkey for a while

I made time by hook or by crook to write my novel, exercise (at home) and get creative in my kitchen. This little trio of endorphin boosters saw me smile through my tears on a daily basis. Then the roller coaster of life took a downturn, and I’ve done hardly any of these things in the last few months.

autism parentsAnd it shows.

My stress levels are through the roof. I’m snappy with my husband, and if I’m completely honest, I’ve gotten into a negative rut.

That’s when I know I have real problems. When my positivity and perspective disappear. When we’re in a good place mentally, everything else just works so much better doesn’t it? Even on four hours sleep.  

It’s absolutely incredible how much happier I feel when I’m having some me time. I’ve always known it, but have once again become bogged down by my day to day.

So I’m really hoping that writing this will kick me up the backside to start making time for me again.

Here are a few suggestions of how you can claim a bit of time for yourself

First and foremost, figure out what makes you happy. This sounds simple but it’s trickier than you’d think. If what makes you happy involves leaving the house, figure out a solution to make it possible. There is always a way. 

Is there something else bothering you? It’s easy to sweep our own troubles under the carpet when we’re engrossed in looking after our kids. If you have deeper rooted problems, don’t put off addressing them. (You might find this recent blog useful.) There will never be a right time to look your demons in the eye, so do it sooner rather than later.    

autism parentingIf you have a partner, invest in date nights. As I mentioned before, not everyone is able to get out in the traditional sense, but a nice meal at home (or take away) can do the trick just as well. This year my husband and I have made a point of having regular date nights. We’ve not managed to leave the house once, but we switch off from the world which is fabulous in itself. We usually have a steak dinner, few glasses of red, and conversation that doesn’t revolve around the kids. We only manage it every few weeks, but it’s done wonders for our relationship. 

Learn a new skill. Life constantly changes and evolves, and we are required to learn as we go. Cooking is one of my happy makers, but for most it’s yet another thankless parenting task. Is there a way for you to turn this chore into something more enjoyable? One of the things I love most about being in the kitchen without children is the thinking time it allows me. Cooking is just one new skill you could learn, but good old YouTube has tutorials for everything.  

Immortalise it in writing. My husband is a fitness fanatic. He does twice weekly jui-jitsu classes, runs and lifts weights at home. He gets to do plenty of what makes him happy, but he also appreciates how important my well-being is. He wrote this on our calendar last night: “Reneé, SAW” (stare at the wall). Just knowing that he’s taken the initiative to encourage some down time for me makes me happy. Once you write it down it’s impossible to ignore.

autism parentingThe power of fresh air. A good walk on a decent day is soul food. End of.

Above all else, don’t feel guilty for wanting some time for you. If I know nothing else, I know that you truly deserve it! Best of luck making it happen ❤️

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