8 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents
of Kids with Complex Medical Issues
It’s that time of year again. The New Year has dawned, and we all have a new commitment–at least for a few weeks–to make ourselves better. This year, instead of picking one of those tired resolutions to lose weight or exercise more, choose something that will really make a difference. Here are 8 different options to choose from, or you can try to check off a few of them during the year.
1. Make an appointment with your doctor and your dentist. If you are not healthy, you cannot take care of your child. Many of us go years without seeing our own doctors and dentists because we don’t have time, we don’t have childcare, or we just can’t stand seeing another medical professional. Stop the excuses and make your appointment!
2. Commit to 5 minutes a day of doing something you truly love. There is no doubt that our lives are crazy, and that time always seems to be an issue. Sometimes it is hard to find even enough time to shower! But most of us can find 5 minutes a day to recharge. Do something you truly love, whether that is reading, watching Netflix, taking a bath, writing, singing in the shower, doing a puzzle, or just shutting your eyes. Make it a point to do it every day, and consider making yourself a calendar so you will follow through.
3. Help a family who is new to this journey. As we all know, living this life is not easy. It’s physically, financially, and emotionally taxing. But it can be a whole lot easier if you have a mentor or guide along the way. This year, find a family just starting this journey of complex medical issues. Make a resolution to help that family in some way. It may be as simple as being there to answer questions, or just sending an email every few weeks.
4. Pay it forward. Remember that today you are alive, and no matter how tough things are, someone else out there is struggling just as much, if not more. Find a way to pay it forward at least once a month. You can buy coffee for a stranger, donate to a family in need, or even leave a $5 bill taped to a bathroom mirror with a note of explanation. Not only will paying it forward make you feel good, but it will also make another person feel good. This kind of positive energy has a habit of spiraling on and on, so get it started!
5. Schedule quality time with siblings. Siblings of children who are medically complex often don’t get as much 1:1 time due to their sibling’s extra needs. Make a point to schedule in some 1:1 time with each of your other children. The quantity of time doesn’t matter, and the activity doesn’t really matter either. But 15 minutes of quality, uninterrupted attention can make a world of difference.
6. Get some respite. In these times of budget cuts, respite can be a rare commodity. Nonetheless, it is incredibly valuable to have some time completely away. Aim for one 4-hour chunk once a month to start, and see if you can arrange a way to get even more respite time. If you don’t have a friend, relative, nurse, or trained provider to care for your child, consider pairing up with another family who has a similar child. Each of you can take the other’s child once a month so you can get a break.
7. Make an amazing moment. Life for many of our kids is a series of mundane medical procedures. Set a goal to make one amazing moment for your child this year, and then figure out a way to make it happen. If your child is able to get out of the house, take a trip to a favorite museum, amusement park, or natural site. Even kids who are homebound can participate. Bring in some musicians from the local college, hire a magician, or bring in some exotic pets for a visit.
8. Get your affairs in order. We all need to do some estate planning, even if we have no money. It is critical to have in place one or more potential guardians for your child, and to write out everything this person would need to know to care for your child. It’s hard to think about, but really important.
We hope you have a great new year!