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One-on-one time as self care for caregivers

One-on-one time as self care for caregivers

Updated: August 29, 2023 · 3 Minute Read

Marissa Pittard

Reviewed by:

Marissa Pittard


  • Taking time away with friends or your spouse is crucial to your mental health
  • Parenting is hard -- get support to help your marriage stay strong
  • One-on-one time with other adults can help you remember who you are as a person, instead of just "mom" or "dad"

The challenges that come with raising a child with a developmental difference can bring on a lot of stress. Spending time with other grown-ups will do wonders for your mental health. Remind yourself you’re a human (not just a super parent) by spending time with someone who cares about you.


Make it a priority to spend one-on-one time with someone significant in your life

This could be a friend, your partner/spouse, a relative, or another parent who can relate to your situation. Having a break is vital to your overall well-being. On top of that, spending time with another adult can help you remember who you are, help you feel like you again. As parents/caregivers we often forget that we were people and individuals first, before we were ever "mom" or "dad".


Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Go out to a movie
  • Take a walk in the park
  • Have dinner together
  • Play a board game
  • Try something new (for example, a painting class, wine tasting, or kayaking)
  • Plan a fun date night
  • Check out a festival, concert, museum, or event
  • Meet for coffee or drinks
  • Join a book club
  • Cross off a bucket-list item (something you've always wanted to do but were too busy or afraid to do)


One-on-one time for married couples

Parenting can test any marriage, but raising a child who has additinal needs can cause a strain in family relationships. You're stressed, you're tired, you're disagreeing, there's poop on everything -- the last thing you feel is warm and fuzzies! In addition to spending alone time together, check out these resources for maintaining a strong marriage while raising disabled children:

  • This article from The May Institute is insightful and helpful.
  • The Gottman Institute’s website contains tons of resources for couples, including training, webinars, quizzes, articles, and more. The Gottman method is the most renowned for relationship counseling. They also have parenting resources! In fact, some of the best marriage-and-family therapists are trained in The Gottman Method.
  • While we don’t always agree with her approach, Brynn Burger’s rant-filled, at times comical, tips for marriage are helpful.
  • The Five Love Languages is a well-loved book written by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman. Although it’s not specifically geared toward parents of special needs kids, it can show you how to give and receive love with your spouse in the way that is most fulfilling for you both. Dr. Chapman’s website also has quizzes, video training, and more.
  • A marriage-counseling app like Lasting is a convenient way for you and your spouse to work on your relationship in between parenting, work, and more.
  • A digital family counseling service like Little Otter can be helpful for you and your spouse as well as the whole family.
  • Couples therapy is probably the number one most recommended option by families we’ve spoken to. You can search here for a couple’s therapist in your area. Check provider descriptions for those who specialize in marriage and family therapy.


Don't burn yourself out

Caregiver burnout is so common and such a harsh reality for special needs families. Autism families in particular tend to be more isolated, more depressed, and less supported than any other kind of special needs family. Taking that crucial one-on-one and alone time can help prevent burnout so you can continue to show up as your best self for your family.

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