Looking after your Type 1 ChildElissa Renouf
How do you cope and keep going, day in, day out, when you have four kids with Type 1 to care for?
Like any other mother, I try to handle whatever life throws at me and to give my children the best start in life. Of course, sometimes it’s not as easy as it looks. Having to be switched on 24/7 can have its downfalls and impact negatively on my health, which in turn can affect my kid’s wellbeing. And if a carer doesn’t look after themselves, they won’t be able to care for others properly. This is why they really need to take time-out regularly to recharge their batteries, but to also feel no guilt about doing so.
It took me a couple of years to realise just how important this is. However, after three of my sons were diagnosed with Type 1 within a two-year period, it started to really impact on my life and state of mind, so a counselor recommended I take time-out to rediscover who I am as a person and suggested I visit a health retreat for some R and R.
Knowing that I needed a break, Steve encouraged me to go while he looked after the kids. I booked into a place on the Gold Coast that seemed to be offering what I needed, but having never been away before, I was apprehensive. Despite my misgivings, it turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. There was good food, great exercise and, most importantly, for the first time in many years I remember who I was outside of being a carer – it felt fantastic.
I realised it’s like servicing your car. As a carer, you may think you can’t afford to look after yourself, but preventative health actually works out cheaper in the end. While it isn’t always an option (or affordable!) to go away for a week on my own, I do make a point of regularly taking a break to look after my own needs. It may be having a coffee with a friend, going for a walk in the park on my own, or sitting under a tree for an hour with a good book. I might even plan a weekend away with girlfriends. Spending time with my animals always makes me happy, too. We have several farm animals and three dogs. They help bring me back to just being and enjoying the moment.
Over the years, my family has come to recognise how much I benefit from taking time-out for myself. So much so that when they see signs that I’m becoming stressed, they’re the ones who suggest I arrange to do something fun, or that I book into the health retreat again. It’s a win-win situation, as the more relaxed and energised I feel, the better equipped I am to support my family with their everyday challenges. It makes for a more positive vibe all round.