It’s a little ironic that I’m sitting here writing about self-care at the end of a long day at work. I’m currently feeling exhausted and drained… mentally and physically.
Self-care is one of those topics that I’m currently on a journey of discovering. I’m just getting started and learning how much more I need to learn, but grateful I’ve started to take the steps necessary to make sure that I’m able to continue to provide for my family. The last few years have been taxing to say the least… Increasing responsibilities and demands on my time, being a T1D parent and then throw in a pandemic and ya.. Let’s just say that my own health and well-being took a back seat until it became evident that I couldn’t do that anymore.
I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned about self-care but also some of the great advice I’ve received from other T1D parents and what they have learned along the way. I hope you find something below that resonates with you so that you can start to make positive steps in your own well-being journey and never get to a point where you are burned out and forced to make drastic changes.
- Sleep – Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned to protect and guard is my sleep time. Sometimes there isn’t time at the end of the day for any time to wind down, especially on days that I work right up to (or past) my bedtime. As much as evenings used to be my most productive work times (um… kids are asleep, no clients calling etc.), lately I’ve found that getting to bed at a decent time, or even early makes a HUGE difference in my mood, productivity, energy, etc. the next day.
But diabetes… right??? I’m so grateful for the #DexcomG6 CGM System1. Gone are the days of 2-3 alarms EVERY SINGLE NIGHT to wake up and test. Flashlight in my mouth, lancet in one hand, meter in the other… Being able to look over at my phone2, or have it alarm when her glucose levels are out of range (High or Low) means that I’m only woken up when something needs my attention instead of just to test. More peace of mind equals more peaceful sleep!!
@anaes07 on Instagram agrees; “catch up on sleep when you can as lack of sleep catches up on you.”
@oneida5l says “at least one night a week go to bed a few hours early and try and recoup the lost hours in the middle of the night getting juice boxes and waiting for a low to come up”
- Me Time – I know I just said that some nights I work right up till bedtime (um… I’m doing that right now writing this post lol), but lately I’m trying to minimize that. Set aside some time for you and guard it. Sometimes it’s hard… kids coming down wanting something, pushing bedtime or sleep time later, especially on weekends makes uninterrupted time hard to come by. But even if it’s a bit of extra time before going to bed enjoying a book, tv, or even silence for a little bit can help tremendously!!
@T1Dtoddler says “I tend to stay up an hour after he goes to sleep to enjoy MY time. I may be tired sometimes, but I need that Me Time.”
@anaes07 says “take time out to find something that calms and centers you (a walk, a bath, glass of wine, creative outlet etc).”
- Ask for Help – Ok, so this is a hard one for me. I don’t like bothering people and I don’t always know what or how to ask for help. But it’s so important!! It doesn’t always mean someone has to do something for you, sometimes it’s just having someone to talk to & listen, or another T1D parent who you can talk to who you know is going through something similar to you. Being able to have someone who can help give you a break for a few hours, or overnight- and then you giving them a break another night can be huge as a T1D parent. I mean, we still don’t sleep solid, but knowing someone else who knows what they are doing can watch and care for your child for a little while is so helpful so you can relax and rest (and you can always check and see how things are going with their glucose levels from a distance using the Dexcom Follow App‡ lol)
Keyleigh H. says “utilize your supports and resources – whether that’s technology, a partner, grandparents etc. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all been there. Joining the online community was a game changer for me!”
@anaes07 says “get a break! (easier said than done!) swap a night or even an afternoon with another T1D family.”
@mrscottermania says “I encourage all new parents to stay connected to other T1 parents. That has been a huge help for me! No one understands like other parents that are living through it just like you”
@frukjaerdaardsmith mentioned “most important I think: Share your worries and concerns with close, caring grownups.”
- Give yourself Grace – You aren’t perfect… Read that again!! You aren’t perfect… And diabetes doesn’t ever follow a formula. Aim for healthy balance and don’t beat yourself up for the times when it gets a bit out of control. As we approach puberty, we’ve seen her glucose levels fluctuate for seemingly no reason at all, then come right back to normal with no overall changes on our part… It’s frustrating, but it’s all part of life. Remember, just like we tell our kids, diabetes doesn’t define them, and it doesn’t have to define you either.
@t1dtoddler shared “I’ve learned to be happy with the overall. I am a very competitive person. And the fact that for the first time ever, no matter how hard I work or know – I can never keep my son’s sugars perfect. That irritates me to no end. But I’ve learned now to accept that and redefine my idea of success.”
@mrscottermania wrote “everyday is a new day and just because it was a ‘bad’ day yesterday does not mean it will always be bad!”
@anaes07 says “diabetes isn’t logical! You can give some food and insulin each day with very different bg results! Be kind to yourself and do the best you can but accept the body sometimes has a mind of its own”
@oneida5l says “set a goal of getting great numbers 80% of the time. For me I have to let myself off the hook for some high number days”
Jim Stone shared “try not to take diabetes “failures” personally. Problem-solve, adjust and then MOVE ON. Don’t obsess and beat yourself (or your child) up.”
- Your mental health is important, seek counselling & therapy to support your own mental health. I’ve started counselling in the last year, and honestly I’m not sure why I didn’t do that sooner. Having someone to talk to and guide you through understanding and verbalizing your thoughts is something that has provided more value and help then I ever thought it would. Our society tends to look at almost all health care professionals, but even more so mental health as treating sick people. But after starting therapy myself, I see that now, more than ever, having someone help guide and provide you with tools and supports before you go through hard times is tremendously valuable, especially for T1D parents who often have more than their fair share of stuff to deal with.
- When all else fails… Coffee!. Hey, even something like exercise, getting outside for fresh air etc, can provide that ‘boost’ that we need to just have that reset or recharge, even for a few minutes at a time.
Avery Dylan Porch “coffee is my thing, so I always try to make time for a good cup of coffee every day, more so on the days after treating highs or lows most of the night”
- And finally share, give and get involved. One of the most fulfilling things that I have found I can do as a T1D parent is to give back, to share knowledge and help others who are dealing with similar stuff. From helping those local to me with showing them how to do something, helping set up some technology, or helping lend an infusion set when they run out before they get their next shipment. For my online community being able to listen, support, answer questions or write this blog helps me use some of the hard times, and lessons that I’ve learned and share them with others, so they don’t feel so alone, or to help prevent them from running into some of the issues that I’ve had along the way.
I hope these things have helped you with some ideas to help manage the balance of all the responsibilities of caring for a child with Type 1 diabetes all while making sure you care for yourself as well.
Is there anything I missed? Anything that stands out to you from what I’ve written and others have shared that really resonates with you? Please comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts and keep this discussion going!
While this post is sponsored by Dexcom, the experiences and opinions mentioned here are my own. To be sure this product is suitable for you, always read and follow the instructions on the label. You can find out more about the Dexcom G6 CGM system here1 To be sure this product is suitable for you, always read and follow the instructions on the label
2 To view a list of compatible devices, go to dexcom.com/compatibility
‡ Following requires the Dexcom Follow App and an Internet connection. Followers should always confirm readings on the Dexcom G6 App before making treatment decisions.