Stress management tips for parents of children with special needs

As a parent, stress comes with the territory. You’re likely wondering if you have enough energy to keep up with your toddler’s shenanigans, or to take your children to all their extra-curriculars. And on top of that, you might have a job to go to or a house to take care of, and, of course, a spouse to spend time with. However, parents of children with special needs have an extra layer of stress to work with, so finding time for self-care is of the highest importance.

At Albemarle Square Family Healthcare, we specialize in wellness for the entire lifespan. Whether you need a pediatrician, geriatric doctor, women’s health physician, or anything in between, we would love to see you. Call us to make an appointment!

Here are some things that parents of children with special needs can do to take care of themselves.

Get Plenty of Rest

A tired parent is not a happy parent, and while you might not get a full eight hours every night, you can strive to find time during the day to get some R&R. If a nap isn’t possible, look for ways to get some downtime, whether you’re simply watching your favorite show, lying down for a few moments of stillness, or doing some meditation or yoga.

Find People to Talk to

You might feel alone because it’s hard for others to understand that challenges you’re going through. And in addition to that, you’re probably spending a lot of your time taking your child to various therapies, doing exercises at home, and communicating with insurance companies or other people involved in the care of your child. Your friends are invaluable in your overall picture of wellness, so keeping those connections is crucial. You can also find online or in-person groups where other parents going through the same challenges you are can lend an ear or advice. Finding time to talk to your significant other is also very helpful.

Find a Hobby You Love

When your life suddenly becomes full of appointments, at-home therapy exercises, and the like, the things you used to love doing can fall by the wayside. Hobbies and activities that bring you joy are incredibly important to managing stress, so making time to bring them back into your life should be a priority. You can even look for smaller activities that are easy to put down—for example, if you used to love hopping on the pottery wheel but that’s too much of a production to set up and take down, you can look for something more portable like knitting.

Keep a Journal

Journaling has been shown to provide a sort of meditative state where you write about your feelings or something that has happened and tap into a part of your consciousness that you might not have found otherwise. Even the feeling of venting through journaling can have some cathartic quality. You can keep a journal that’s handwritten or one that you keep in a file on your computer—there are even artistic journals, workbooks, and other types at the bookstore that can be helpful.


Exercise releases endorphins, which do so much to combat feelings of sadness, restlessness, and exhaustion. Additionally, the feeling of doing something just for you can do a lot to raise your spirits, not to mention the improvements you’ll make to your health and well-being.

Do Something Fun with Your Child

You might notice that a lot of what you do with your special needs child involves visits to specialists, at-home therapies, and other activities related to their condition. But when is the last time you spent time with him or her doing something that’s fun? Do a little research online to find activities that are appropriate to your child’s condition, age, and preferences, and carve out some time to make it happen. This will create some great bonding time for you!

Go on a Date

When is the last time you got together with your significant other? The two of you are likely feeling overwhelmed at times, and don’t think you have time to get out and lollygag. The truth is, getting dressed to go out and treat yourselves for a few hours can work wonders! Get a close family member or friend to watch your kiddo so you can enjoy dinner, a movie, or other activities you enjoy.

We hope these stress management tips have been helpful to you. If you need somebody to talk to, we at Albemarle Square Family Healthcare offer mental health visits where you can talk about concerns you’re having. Or, if you feel that you need a therapist, we can certainly refer you to one. Give us a call today!