It’s 2 pm. I get a text from Addie’s nurse that she won’t be able to come in that night for the third night in a row. She’s sick and she knows it’s best for Addie if she stays home until she is well enough to come back to work. I tell Mathew and we come up with our plan for the night. I’ll make dinner, put Lawson to bed, give Addie her nightly feed and draw up all her medicines, and then we will bathe Addie and move her to her room together for the night. We pull out her bed to give Mathew room, dress her, do her trach and g-button care, 3 nebulizer treatments, give medicines, and hopefully finish by 10:30 pm. There won’t be time to relax tonight and Mathew will likely get little sleep as every beep of Addie’s pulse ox will wake him for fear that something is wrong. In the middle of the night Mathew wakes me and says Addie’s trach needs to be changed. We get it set up, change it, and I crawl back into bed. We wake up exhausted. This is just one scenario we’ve had in the past. But even on days or nights with nurses, we feel caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is real with special needs parents, but our children always come first, and we are happy to do whatever needs to be done for them. Parenting is stressful for anyone. Even parents of the best kids have their challenges, but parents of children with special needs deal with stress on a whole other level. Being a parent to a child with special needs can be like having a full time job. In fact, it’s like having two full time jobs. Making phone calls to insurance or medical companies, responding to emails regarding school or therapies, going through our calendars to see what times we can make appointments work- it’s constant. This doesn’t even account for the revolving door of people that are in and out of our homes all day and the lack of privacy if you’re lucky enough have nursing. Without support or without the kind of support the special needs parents need, it’s easy to see how they can head down the path of caregiver burnout- and fast. Did you know that special needs parents typically have chronic stress relating to raising a special needs child? It’s magnified more when the parent has caregiver burnout. You may find that the special needs parents you know have anxiety, PTSD, depression, intense fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, medical issues, low sex drive, or insomnia. They even are at higher risk for divorce. In our own lives, I’ve seen this even start in Lawson. When Addie’s pulse ox beeps more than a couple times, he runs over to Addie to make sure she’s ok. He’s not even 2 yet. Through it all, our children with special needs are our pride and joy. Despite caregiver burnout we wouldn’t change our children or our situation for the world. If that means doing all that we need to for our children, special needs parents will do it in a heartbeat. Looking for signs of caregiver burnout? Caregiver burnout for special needs parents can look like:1| Mentally checking out. I’ve mentioned this before but you may find special needs parents on their phones just to take their mind into another world. Special needs parents experience nearly every emotion every day and it is exhausting. If you find yourself constantly trying to mentally check out, it’s time for a break.2| Suffering from memory loss. A couple years ago, I spent some time trying to work on myself and went to therapy. It was really helpful. I mentioned to my therapist I was having trouble recalling information like stories that were told to me, conversations I’d had with others, and more. She told me that it was very common with special needs parents with caregiver burnout to suffer from memory loss because the brain was in constant trauma mode. Wow. 3| Inability to rest or relax. Special needs parents typically have a hard time resting or relaxing. Our minds are constantly focusing on our children’s “sats” (aka saturations), plans for the next day, worrying about weather, prepping medicines or feeds, and even worrying about our children’s attitudes. We dwell on the day that just happened and can fixate on whatever may happen the following day.4| They’re frequently sick. Many special needs parents are sick often. When you combine lack of sleep, not eating healthy meals (because they’re usually so busy or in hospitals where takeout is easier), it’s very easy to get sick. Special needs parents don’t take care of themselves either and continue to do all they can for their children without taking a break to feel better, which can make things worse.5| Rarely spend time with friends or doing hobbies. Some special needs parents don’t have nursing, family that live close by, or even family or friends that are involved enough to know the care their child needs. It is easier for special needs parents to stay home instead of spending time with friends or doing hobbies simply because taking the time to train someone or “get them up to speed” takes too long. Alternatively, if a special needs family does have these resources available to them, they may find it easier not to leave their child because the stress of worrying takes the fun out of the things they love.6| Not taking time for self care- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As you can see from the first 5 signs, special needs parents don’t take enough time for themselves. Many times they don’t have time to go to therapy sessions for themselves, workout at the gym, or spend time in prayer/meditation. After a long day and much more to do before bed, special needs parents with caregiver burnout simply are too tired to care for themselves. Here’s how to break out of caregiver burnout for special needs parents: 1| Ask for help. This one can be hard for special needs parents but is very important. Research respite care where you live, talk to nurses about increasing hours if needed, discuss with family/friends how they can help you. IT TAKES A VILLAGE! Whether someone bringing freezer meals helps you best or someone watching your child for an hour so you can take a hot shower for once, ask for help. One of the best gifts I ever had was from a friend, Suzanne. When our family was going through a particularly hard time Suzanne (who I didn’t know well at all) asked if she could come bring dinner to take stress off my plate. She held baby Lawson as I ate and we chatted. She then encouraged me to take a long bath while she watched Lawson and Addie, did my dishes, and threw out my trash. It was such a blessing. Another instance was when my friend Juanita said the Lord called her to come sweep my floors. She had never been to my home before but came over, swept, and took that burden off me. What may have seemed so small to these ladies was an incredible blessing of much needed help for me. 2| Take care of your health. You can’t help others well when you don’t take of yourself. One way that Mathew and I take care of our health is by using Young Living essential oils and supplements daily. Despite lack of sleep and the toughest of situations, we have found ourselves healthy for several years now because we use our oils and supplements daily, eat lots of green veggies, and limit caffeine. Scheduling regular doctor appointments (for mental and physical health), eating healthy foods as often as possible, exercising (even if you need to walk a few laps around the house) can make a big difference. 3| Find an inclusive church home. I can’t express enough how helpful finding a church home can be for special needs parents experiencing burnout. Our current church has a program for members with special needs, and although we haven’t taken advantage of it, I’m so grateful it’s there if we need. Bible study has also been incredibly helpful for me, and it’s something I make sure to carve out time for weekly. Even when Addie was in the hospital Mathew encouraged me to make sure to attend Bible study as a way to break through caregiver burnout. Just as you make sure to schedule time for your child with special needs, it’s important to do the same for yourself so you can seek social support 4| Make plans to do something fun. This one is important. As hard as it is to get away, or as hard as it is to get away and not stress, it is SO important to make plans to do something fun for yourself. If this means a couple hours to yourself at a bookstore, a run to Target to just browse, or even perusing your local plant nursery, do it. If it means going away on a week long vacation, do it. Whatever “something fun” means to you, put it in your calendar and do it. It’s easier said than done, I know, but even if you can’t get out of the house, think of ways to enjoy yourself in the home. Bring out the board games, invite friends to watch your favorite show together (your friends won’t judge the state of your house- promise), and more! 5| Prioritize your tasks. Making small to do lists can be so helpful for special needs parents feeling burnout. Separate task lists into levels of importance so you can do the most important things immediately and save the less important for days when you have extra time. Some of my favorite things when I feel caregiver burnout: DIY BATH BOMBS INSTBTW BOOK DIY TERRARIUM FERVENT BOOK LEARN LETTERING VALOR EO DIFFUSE OILS BAKING KIT I hope this has been so helpful to you, from one special needs parent to another. Which step will you take first to ridding caregiver burnout?
St. Patrick’s Day is a day I love, but never really got to celebrate until I got married and lived in my own house. My sister is a St. Patrick’s Day baby so it was always a day to celebrate her. Sometimes we’d have shamrock themed decorations for her and sometimes random birthday party decor. Now that Mathew and I have been married a good while, he’s learned that I love to have Pinterest-perfect parties. I can’t help it- I just love to go all out. So while thinking about St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I wanted to share with you all my picks for having a Pinterest-perfect St. Patrick’s Day party that everyone in your house will enjoy. I split the Pinterest-perfect items into two categories: decor and fashion to make it a little easier when shopping! This St. Patrick’s Day party guide is perfect for every single age, and you can take these items and have a toddler party, a mom night out party, or even a party with friends.1| St. Patrick’s Day Party Collection– I love this party collection set of plates, napkins, and cups. They’re fun and festive, and of course, green! Give me cheesy paper goods any day for a party to get the theme going!2| Multicolored Balloons + Balloon Pump + Balloon Arch Strip– Ask anyone in my family- balloons are a staple party item here. With Helium being hard to find and expensive, we opt for a billion balloons and a balloon pump. Once you use your balloon pump to blow up all your balloons, stick them onto a balloon arch strip and you’ve got a snazzy focal point for your St. Patrick’s Day party. I promise, this doesn’t disappoint. 3| Rainbow Party Decor– Another staple for that Pinterest-perfect St. Patrick’s Day party has got to be this rainbow decor set. The rainbow tassles, multicolored dot streamer, and paper poufs will make your venue (or home!) look extra fancy. Plus, you can save them and reuse them for birthday parties. Win all around! 4| Inflatable Rainbow Arch– If you want to make a big impact on decor, don’t skip out on this inflatable rainbow arch for your St. Patrick’s Day party. My friends and family accuse me (in the best way possible) of being “too extra” but I can’t help it! Make an impression and grab this. It lights up and is huge. Perfect to put in your front yard!5| St. Patrick’s Day Photo Booth Backdrop– I’m a sucker for a good photo booth. Put this photo booth backdrop with some props and a camera and let people go crazy. Great to have people do while they wait for more guests to arrive at the party.6| St. Patrick’s Day Photo Booth Props– I mean, can these BE any more hilarious? The best photo booths are the ones with props, right? Kids and adults will get good laughs out of these during the St. Patrick’s Day party. Save them for Halloween too for a quick costume on the fly!7| St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Clover Handbag– I absolutely love this clover handbag. Such a statement piece and perfect for the kid or kid-at-heart. It’s fun, it’s festive, and it’s darn right cute. Everyone at the St. Patrick’s Day party will be asking you where you got it.8| St. Patrick’s Day Earrings– If you aren’t the “extra” kind of gal, throw on a cute top for St. Patrick’s Day and add these earrings. Bonus for them being just green so you can wear them year-round and not just for a St. Patrick’s Day party.9| St. Patrick’s Day Matching Family Pajamas– There’s nothing more that makes a party Pinterest-perfect than matching outfits. These pajamas are perfect for everyone in the family and will look great on everyone. You and your family will be the hit of the St. Patrick’s Day party with these!10| St. Patrick’s Day Party Favor Pins– When talking to Mathew about this list of amazing St. Patrick’s Day party gear, I let him put his 2 cents in. He said it’s not a St. Patrick’s Day party without pins to wear. I opted for a more classy pin than the “kiss me I’m Irish” pins. These come in a set and are a perfect party favor and will prevent your guests from getting pinched. Which Pinterest-perfect St. Patrick’s Day party items are your favorite? Are you an “extra” party planner or more the simple type?
Being a special needs mom has taught me so much in the 5.5 years Addie has been around. I recently asked my Instagram Stories readers what they wanted other moms to know. Your responses tugged at my heartstrings because there are so many secrets special needs moms want others to know, but won’t say, and I completely understand where you all are coming from. 1| We love to be included even if we can’t go. Special needs moms are busy. Between doctor appointments and therapies, there’s a lot going on. It brings us so much joy when you include us for mom nights out, girlfriend getaway vacations, dinner out, or even a simple coffee date. We may not be able to join every time, but trust us, we really want to! Your invitation means the world to us because it shows you haven’t forgotten us amidst our busyness. CLICK TO SHOP2| We appreciate you asking about our kids, but then we want to move on and talk about non-special needs stuff. Being a special needs mom totally rules our lives. Don’t get us wrong, we love being a special needs mom, but we are also just a girl…sitting in front of a friend…asking them not to talk medical stuff (unless we need to vent.) Even though many days we don’t feel like anyone other than “mom” there is so much more to us and we want to talk about that stuff! So let’s talk about our needs for pedicures, how much we love Mexican food, or the latest episode of The Bachelor, but please let’s not only talk about special needs mom life. 3| At times, we can resent you. That one really hurts to say, but it’s true. When you talk about the next sports activities you’re putting your kids in or the milestones your child is reaching, you’ll probably see us slip out of the conversation or just stand there nodding our heads. We can’t relate and it’s hard on us. It’s not your fault, but it’s just hard sometimes. CLICK TO SHOP4| We are so thankful for small victories. Many times it takes our kids longer to do things that neurotypical kids do. When our special needs child has a small victory, it feels like we’ve won the lottery. It makes us grateful for every doctor appointment, surgery, therapy session, or medical device. You may find a special needs mom shouting a small victory from the rooftops and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating whatever it is too. 5| Being online helps us. If you see a special needs mom aimlessly scrolling Facebook or checking out “what the cool kids are doing now” on TikTok, chances are we are trying to forget about our hectic lives and are trying to gain some normalcy. Being a special needs mom means there are times we need to forget about hours of therapy, insurance and bills, doctor appointments, diagnoses, and whatever else. Diving into the Internet helps us have some semblance of downtime. In fact, you may see us on social media during intense times in our lives like our children’s surgeries or intense hospitalizations. Our brains literally are trying not to fall apart and being online can be one coping mechanism. CLICK TO SHOP6| Sometimes we’re bad communicators. A simple text or phone call (let’s be real- just text) can go a long way with us! It’s not that we don’t have time for you or forget you, it’s that we are constantly communicating with medical teams, specialists, insurance companies, durable medical equipment reps, and more, that when we finally have a moment to ourselves, we don’t think to text or call our friends (and sometimes even family.) Please extend us grace and know that any time you reach out it is such a blessing to us, even if you’re the one that always reaches out first. We still love you, promise! 7| We love when you include our kids. We feel like we hit the jackpot when you invite our kids to a birthday party or play date. Better yet, we love when your kids include our kids when they’re invited. 1 in 20 children have a disability of some kind now, and including our child is so special to us. We hope that your child befriending ours will leave a beautiful impact on both sides of the friendship. Who knows, you and your child may grow to become a special needs advocate! CLICK TO SHOPMoms, thank you for hearing our voices and not judging. Life is so hard for our families already and your kindness and understanding go so very far. We are grateful for our relationships with you and hope this has been a helpful way to begin to understand us as special needs moms.
Our Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World was hands down the best experience of our lives....
Even though it just feels like it was just Christmas, Spring Break is a month away! We have plans soon to visit an indoor water park in Texas, plans to visit Schlitterbahn several times, and we have a huge blow up pool and slide for our back yard. Needless to say, I’m already looking online for one piece Amazon swimsuits for my curvy mom bod.Being a curvy mom wasn’t something I always embraced. For as long as I’ve remembered, I’ve hated my body, especially my hips. It wasn’t until last year that my friend Carly posted the #justwearthesuit challenge that I finally realized having a curvy mom bod wasn’t a bad thing and I began to embrace it. In fact, I even posted a picture of myself on the Internet in a swimsuit for the world to see- something I never thought I would ever do in my life.Carly’s #justwearthesuit challenge gave me so much to think about last Summer. My kids don’t care what my body looks like. All my kids care about is if I’m in the pool with them and if we’re having fun. Making memories is what it’s all about and if I can find a cute one piece swimsuit to help me feel even a little more comfortable with my body, then we’ve got the perfect combination! of course now I’ve totally embraced my curvy mom bod, but also, I still want to look cute in one piece swimsuits, so I started my hunt so I’m prepared this year.Now, I’m kind of obsessed with finding one piece swimsuits for curvy mom bods because I know that looking for swimsuits, especially online, can be scary. I used to be the kind of gal that would try on a million swimsuits and finally would find one out of 20 that looked good. But all these one Amazon one piece swimsuits? They’re perfect for the curvy mom! I can’t wait to have fun this Spring Break and Summer with the family.1| Sexy V-Neck Green Floral One Piece Swimsuit: I bought this swimsuit last summer in another color and have been obsessed with the style ever since. There are actually a ton of options with this, but I love how slimming the black is, how fun the pattern looks, the criss-cross straps in the front, and the off-the-shoulder sleeves2| Asymmetric Ruffle One Piece Swimsuit: I love the blue with pink flowers on this, the asymmetric ruffle, and the full butt coverage on this one. Perfect for the nursing mom too!3| V-Neck Ruffled Lace Up Swimsuit: The ruffles draw the eye up, shirring hides post-baby tummy, and there’s a cute lace up part in the back.4| Dual Pattern Halter One Piece Swimsuit: Solid on the top, fun pattern on the bottom, and shirring. Perfect for any curvy mom bod. I love the peachy color on this- great for making you look more tan even when you’re pale!5| Leopard Spaghetti Strap Side Tie Swimsuit: Thick material with side ties that allow you to change the length of your swimsuit in case you want more or less coverage above the thigh. Shirring and cute leopard ruffle make this playful and fun.6| Color Block One Piece Swimsuit: This padded swimsuit has adorable color blocking and a cute bow to complete the look and complement your curvy mom bod. 7| Bright & Colorful Dual Pattern Swimsuit: If you’re self-conscious about your butt/thighs, this one isn’t for you, but if you’re confident- rock it! This high cut swimsuit has dual patterns, a keyhole cut out, and a halter neckline. If you are bold, love color, and want to rock your curvy mom bod, this is for you.8| One Piece Crochet One Piece Swimsuit: Cute crochet front with plunging neckline brings focus to all the perfect parts of your body that you love. Ties up top so double knot it if you’ve got little ones!9| Elegant Solid One Piece Swimsuit: More of a solids kind of gal? I love how elegant this one piece is! It covers high in the back, has a modest v-neck, and ties off on the side with a bow. Would look great with a cute beach hat and kimono.10| Tropical Pink Vintage Ruffle One Piece: This pattern is so much fun! I love the versatility with this swimsuit thanks to the removable straps. This one will be amazing by the beach!Which Amazon one piece swimsuit for curvy mom bods is your favorite?