Supporting yourself

There are many positive aspects to commencing school.

For some families, enrolling their child in one educational setting five days per week may reduce some of the juggling of different appointment times, early childhood settings and finances.

For some children, the greater consistency and structure of a school setting may have benefits for their learning and routine.

The transition to school process may go relatively smoothly for some families, however for others it can be a source of increased stress.

Families play a crucial role in their child’s development, preparation for school, and their ongoing learning. However, you need not feel that all responsibility is on you to “get your child ready” for school or that you need to do everything at once.

The additional responsibilities and energy required as a carer for your family when your child has a disability or delay means that maintaining your own health is vital, for your sake and your child’s.

Identifying people and sources of support for your family to call on can help to maintain your health and well-being.

Support from your family and friends

Some parents will find that they are able to draw on their relationships with close family and friends for support at this time.

Often one parent will have had more direct involvement in their child’s early childhood intervention (ECI) programme and have taken a more active role in looking at the various school options.

Talking through the options with a partner and/or a supportive friend or relative can:

  • provide another perspective
  • help you feel clearer about your priorities
  • allow the responsibility of decision-making to be shared

Where possible, this person could attend meetings with you to provide moral and practical support. Asking them to be an “extra set of ears and eyes” and take notes, can help relieve the pressure on you to remember everything that is said at meetings.

Parent-to-parent support

“The networking with each other (in a parent/carer support group), talking and getting things off my chest and learning from others’ experiences really helped.”

Mary, carer of Katie

It is common for parents to feel anxious as well as excited about their child starting school. Many parents say that speaking with other parents and carers of children with similar needs provides practical and emotional support.

Some early childhood intervention (ECI) organisations offer information sessions or school readiness group programmes which may provide opportunities to connect with other families.

You could also ask your ECI professional to put you in contact with another family, with a child with similar needs, who has already had experience with starting school.

“Parent support has been the most helpful thing I have experienced.”

Jane, mother of Bethany

Things that may help to maintain your health and wellbeing

  • regular breaks away from family responsibilities
  • interests outside the family
  • contact with other adults
  • regular physical exercise
  • healthy diet
  • help with home responsibilities e.g. a cleaner, lawn mowing service
  • talking with your GP and considering a referral to a counsellor or psychologist
  • exploring what is available from organisations who support those who care for a child with a disability. Click here for more information.

Thinking about what is helpful to you

What have I found has helped during stressful times in the past?
e.g. watching a movie, talking with a friend, going for a walk, getting take away food for dinner

Who can I call on?
e.g. a trusted friend who is happy to listen, respite for a break, Home Care for cleaning help

How could I ask others for the type of help I need?
“I just feel I need to offload a bit, don’t feel you need to give any advice, I really appreciate the way you listen” or “is there a good time I could chat to you?”

What steps might I need to take to put some stress-relieving activities in place?
e.g. respite, asking people close to me for the type of help I need, setting up a regular time for a break