Self-Care for Caregivers

What is self-care? Self-care is taking care of yourself!! As a caregiver of small children, you are probably thinking, “When was the last time I did something for myself?” With the stressful holiday season quickly approaching, it is extremely important to develop some self-care skills.

Self-care is something that you do for YOU (not for your partner, kids, or work). It is a time to re-charge your batteries so you can feel taken care of in a hectic day/week. Self-care should be something that you enjoy doing and can easily incorporate in a very busy schedule and week. Activities will depend on your interests, time available, and extra spending money (don’t worry there are plenty of free activities to do too!) It is especially important to talk to your family members about taking time for yourself, they will not know you need time unless you tell them you do. Coordinate times/days with family members to watch the kids or schedule/arrange times to complete your self-care when they are in bed or at school.

Self-Care ‘On a Budget’ Suggestions:

*Take a warm shower/hot bath (especially at night before bed) You can keep it simple as a time to relax or include bath bombs, music, and candles if you want.

*Before bed, take a few minutes to massage some lotion into your hands and feet.

*Try 10 minutes of guided meditation before bed to relax and practice mindfulness. There are tons of options on YouTube to browse through depending on preference. Some videos have someone speaking and some have nature sounds. Try a few and decide what works best for you!

*Sleep!! This is something that every parent needs. Communicate with your family members and friends to schedule a play date or when you know your child will be out for another activity. If your child will be home, take a nap with them. Naps are great, especially in the winter months!

*Try yoga/stretching at home. Locate your tightest muscles and look for some stretching positions and yoga poses to help alleviate that stress. Start with 10 minutes in the morning or right before going to bed to help stretch and relax your body. (YouTube is great for searching for new pose!)

*Watch a movie or T.V. show that YOU want to watch. Relaxing in the comfort of your own home can be just as relaxing as sleeping.

*Take a walk or find a local and free indoor track at a nearby park district.

*Talk to a friend/family member that you trust/have them over/or go to their house

*If you play a musical instrument, practice.

*If you quilt, sew, or craft. Feel free to get creative!

*Read a book at home in a cozy spot

*Journal

*Give yourself a facial. I like to make a honey and cinnamon one. (See the link below)

*Go to a movie by yourself. Even if you are not interested in the movie (no kid’s movie) it is a great spot for a quiet adult only nap.

Self-care is something we all do to take care of ourselves: mentally, emotionally, physically, nutritionally, and spiritually. Having insight and developing new skills will help you deal with stress and manage difficulties in everyday life.

Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Developmental Therapist
Sources:

Infant Sign Language and Your Child

Is it okay to use infant (“baby”) signs with my child?

Throughout my time working with families and talking with friends, I have come across a common misconception or worry that the use of infant sign language will slow or even prevent verbal language development. However, that is simply not the case.

So, quick answer to the title question above: Absolutely yes!

A language is a system of symbols that signify meaning to others, specifically those that understand that same system. A sign is a symbol just like a verbally spoken word is a symbol. So regardless of mode, signing ‘more’ or saying, “more” aloud, they are using a specific symbol to communicate a specific want or need.

The recommendation is for infant signs to be introduced to typically developing babies around six to eight months of age. Their use has been shown to reduce frustration (both parent and child) and facilitate language development. They also play a huge role with babies/toddlers that have delayed speech-language development.

Children learn to imitate and use gestures (like waving, pointing) before they learn to imitate and use sounds in words. Signs come in especially handy during this time, when children have the capacity to use language, but their mouths cannot yet execute the complex movements required for speech. The use of these signs facilitates joint attention, teaches cause-effect, builds imitation skills, and helps establish bonds between child and caregiver, all of which are vital skills preceding use of sounds and words.

It is in our nature to take the path of least resistance, that is, as soon as kids are able to use words, they drop the infant signs. Many times, the signs that they were using consistently become their first verbally spoken words.

Please see below for a few examples of infant signs (images via Boardmaker).

Ana Thrall, MS, CF-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Frequently Asked Questions about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

AAC is a term used to describe any method of communication that adds to or “augments” speech. This can include anything from signs and gestures, to picture symbols or even high-tech devices involving computer technology.

Will AAC impact language development?

The use of AAC will not delay or impede language development, and often can help improve spoken language. It also allows for many individuals to express themselves fully when spoken language may be difficult.

Who uses AAC?

Anyone who has difficulty expressing themselves via spoken language may benefit from AAC. AAC users may have limited spoken language, unclear speech, or find spoken language difficult in social settings. The cause of the communication impairment may be present at birth (autism or cerebral palsy), occurring later in life due to injury or illness (stroke or head injury), or may worsen throughout the person’s life.

How do I know if AAC is right for my child?

Your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help guide you through the decision process. You may notice that your child is already using simple AAC such as signs and gestures in his therapy sessions. If a more robust system would be beneficial for your child, your child’s SLP may recommend a more comprehensive evaluation in which various professionals can help select the most appropriate system.

Meryl Schnapp M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist