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  • Lara Kitts

The Two Foundations of Self-Care

Updated: Apr 12

After hitting rock-bottom three+ years ago, I finally figured out why taking care of yourself as a special needs parent seems unachievable. It’s because we don’t really know what self-care truly is.


I was always told I have to take care of myself. You know the clichés…’you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and all that. But no one ever explained how to do it in any way that was effective and sustainable.



My only vision of self-care was massages, vacations, and bubble baths. I was doing those things and they were great in the moment. But the moment fades quickly when you are thrust back into the stressful reality of caring for your high-needs child. And I was left right back where I started - holding brick-hard knots in my back, feeling depleted, and struggling with depression.


After I decided to commit to a lifestyle change, a shift started to happen.


Once I vowed to focus on taking care of myself, I started to see what true self-care is and I discovered the foundation necessary for it to be effective and sustainable.


For special needs parents to find peace within, you must have this two-part foundation:

1. Mindset

2. Mindfulness


Mindset

I hear from so many moms that they feel guilty when they take time for themselves. I know I

did! I don’t think I sat down (in a relaxing way) for years because I felt there were so many other things I “should” be doing. It feels selfish to go for a nature walk alone when my daughter needs to practice walking for therapy – that’s what I “should” do instead.


Another mindset block that was common for me was that I didn’t “have time.” Our to-do lists are a mile long and growing. There are meds to order, clothes to be washed, therapies to be done, and on and on. There is NO TIME for me! I was dawn-to-dusk GO every day. My husband called it my 90-mile-an-hour mode. I had to do all the things for all the people all the time.


After I decided to commit to a lifestyle change, a shift started to happen.


When something happens to you that forces you to see things differently (like hitting bottom or getting a major illness) it becomes easier to see the truth. The truth of worthiness.

In my lifestyle change, I had to say out loud to myself, “You are worth 30 seconds, Lara,” when I mentally told myself I didn’t have time to put on my face ointment from my dermatologist. Or I would say, “You are worth five minutes, Lara,” when I mentally decided I had too much to do to listen to my aching feet and sit down.


By creating that shift in mindset of telling myself that I am worth that tiny amount of time, it made all the difference. Before that, I never would have believed anyone that said I didn’t feel worthy. I have always had high self-esteem, so I was totally blind to the fact that by not taking care of myself in these most basic ways, I was saying that I didn’t think I was worth it. I was saying that everyone else’s needs not only came first but came to my detriment.


So, in order for special needs parents to be able to care for themselves for the long-haul of this parenting gig, you must start telling yourself you are worth short bursts of time throughout your day that nurture your body, mind, and soul. This has to be a daily practice.


Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the second part necessary to the foundation of self-care. It is the ability to focus your attention inward. It is self-awareness at its highest level.


In order to take care of yourself, you have to be able to know what you need. So many of us are conditioned to doing for everyone else all the time and buried in stress, we don’t even know what we need.


I ignored my aching feet and sore back for so long, I didn’t even realize they hurt. This is not good, friends. We have such a martyr mentality of “pushing through” the pain, like its honorable. It’s not. What is honorable is to listen to your body when it tells you what you need.

But you have to be able to get still long enough to feel it. You must be able to quiet all the noise long enough to hear it.


What is your body saying to you? That’s its thirsty? That you need to use the bathroom? That your feet hurt? That you pulled something in your shoulder? That you’re exhausted?


After I decided to commit to a lifestyle change, a shift started to happen.


Once you get still and quiet long enough to hear, you loop back around to the mindset of believing you are worth doing something about it. Drink more water, go pee, sit down for five minutes, rest your shoulder, take a nap.


A Strong Foundation for Growth

Once you have gotten into the habit of listening to and honoring the communication of your body through mindfulness and mindset every day, your self-care journey will take off!


Without this foundation, anything you try to build will crumble eventually.

Periodic self-care will never be enough in our lives as special needs parents. We need to take care of ourselves every single day if we want to be enough for our children for as long as they’ll need us.




It Takes a Village

Creating a lifestyle change like this is not easy. It takes a lot of determination and hard work. It took me two years to feel like I had built a solid building of self-care.

If you are struggling to make yourself a priority or need support to sustain a level of peace in yourself and in your family, consider joining Flight Club.


Flight Club is a private membership for special needs parents to work on making it a habit to

make themselves a priority. With my successful self-care approach of the foundation, the methods, and the tools, you can do it! And once you’ve done the hard work, you can see yourself emerge, transformed and flying high!


Message me for more information.


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