Oh, the elusive respite. We all know we need it, but the barriers to get there seem insurmountable…especially considering our fragile, stressed out state.
Here are some mental hurdles you may have to overcome.
“My child is already so insecure. What message am I sending if I leave?”
I’m going out on a ledge to say that you’ve spent almost every waking moment (and maybe some sleeping ones) giving your all to increase your child’s felt safety since she came home. You’re human and you need a break. Don’t feel guilty for needing respite. You are not doing anyone any favors if you hang on until YOU break.
“I don’t want to pay the price afterward.”
This is a legitimate concern. Make a plan to be intentional about keeping your child’s world safe and small when you return. Additionally have a plan for how you are going to reconnect with him in a proactive way rather than having to react to backlash behaviors.
“My child is always looking for a new family. What if she decides she likes the respite provider more?”
Chances are she will and she’ll voice it which is like twisting the knife in your back. It helps to expect this reaction and understand it’s just the insecurity speaking. The key is to react without letting your child know it’s emotionally affecting you and just keep reassuring her that she’s with you to stay.
“I don’t want to impose.”
If someone says “yes” to your request to watch your kids, you’re not imposing. They’re grown ups who could say “no.” Also, realize that offers to help may come from the most unexpected people…probably not the ones you would think to ask. If they offer, take them up on their offer!
Here are some tips from parents who have been there, done that.
Find a local agency with trained providers.
If you have a large family, divide the kids up between friends.
Divide an conquer between your spouse and yourself. Sometimes you’ll need to get away as a couple, but sometimes you may just have to take turns getting your respite.
Groom your own respite. Invite some folks into your life who your kids feel comfortable around. Integrate them regularly into your life like aunties and uncles. Your kids will be begging to have a fun weekend with Aunt So-and-So. This is great because you look like the nice parent for letting her go AND you get respite.
What are your tips? What has worked for your family?