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Self-care isn’t enough when you parent complex kids

What is necessary is wraparound services. Respite, extended school years and more.

Self-care isn’t enough when you parent complex kids

I’m getting a mani-pedi today. If there’s a poster for self-care, a mani-pedi would be on it. It’s relaxing, makes you look better and it’s a couple hours away from the grind. The bonus is that I have a couple of gift cards to offset the cost so it’s not even a ding on the budget.


I will take pleasure in my beautified bare toes and most certainly ruin my mani by the end of the day, but that’s not the point. The point is the break, the focus on myself. A much-needed boost to my spirit.

But is it ever enough?

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I believe in self-care, truly I do, but (you know what they say about “but,” ignore everything before it) it’s like offering a candy bar to someone suffering from malnourishment. It will taste great and give a momentary pause to the pangs that rumble nonstop, but it will do nothing to correct the underlying void. A malnourished person needs not a treat, not a single meal, but access to long-term sustenance.

And the full-time parent of complex kids doesn’t need a mani-pedi. It’s a candy bar that will only quiet the pangs momentarily.

What is needed, truly needed by parents, especially the primary parent of complex kids, is much wider and deeper than a few hours of self-care can begin to address.

When you consider that moms of autistic kids have stress levels akin to that of combat soldiers it becomes apparent that a brief outing isn’t even beginning to address the issue. It’s a bandage on a hemorrhage.

What is necessary is wraparound services. Respite, extended school years and more.

We recently found out that Ben was approved for the Children’s Waiver Program. This program will provide for him all the benefits of Medicaid, despite our income being over the threshold, as well as respite, Community Living Services (someone to help Ben learn how to do things that most people take for granted, like tolerate an outing to the grocery store.)

When getting the news of approval I felt like a someone took me by the hand, showed me a farm with a garden full of bounty and a barn full of animals that, if well cared for, could nourish our whole family indefinitely.

I’ve been told that the church or private charities should step in. Idealistically I agree wholeheartedly, but I have yet to find a church or charity that is equipped and capable of stepping into the enormous gaps that families like ours have year after year.

It takes interventions like the Children’s Waiver Program to make a difference in the lives of families like ours, there’s really no substitute.

I’ll go get my mani-pedi today, and it will be a treat, but it won’t satisfy.

It won’t fill the void and I’ve learned not to expect it to be enough.

I’m beyond grateful to anticipate finally having the resources we need, but at the same time, I look at so many other families I know, moms who live as combat soldiers who need it just as much as we do.

We need to do better and provide these families with services they need to thrive.

Originally posted on HuffPost. Find more of her work at Ben’s Writing, Running Mom.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

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