Self-Care: Take a Vacation

August 22, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Vacation as self-care? Regular breaks from the same routine of dealing with and managing your child's mental health is necessary for you to recharge. It also allows your special needs child an opportunity to just be a kid. While vacation can be a great thing, it can also bring its own challenges.

Goal setting was on my mind last week as I thought about Bob's accomplishments in the last year. Another goal to add was vacation. How is vacation a goal? It can be both a goal and a motivator. For Bob it is a motivator to do well with his behaviors. With some of the challenges we faced in the past year, I really wanted to do something great for him.

This year, we are heading to Disney World to hit all the great rides and have fun. Recently though, I'd thought about canceling the vacation. Why? Bob's snarky attitude was very challenging for me. I didn't think I'd be able to take him on the trip if he wouldn't listen to me at home. It has since gotten better, but it reminded me of something that happened years ago.

When Bob was nine, I'd planned a Disney trip with my older brother and his family. That year, Bob was kicked out of summer camp. Bob and I agreed that he would have to follow the rules in summer camp in order to earn the trip. He had a hard time following instructions and keeping safe.

And since I couldn't stay with him for a week at camp to help him follow the rules, he spent that time bored out of his mind at his father's house. Bob would call me daily at work to complain that his father was sleeping and that it was boring. (Bob's father was not working at the time and was going through his own difficulties.) I took those phone calls as a chance to talk to Bob about his negative behavior. We both learned a hard lesson that summer - that tough behaviors require tough consequences.

Bob still talks about how it felt to know that I left without him. I did. And it was so hard for me, but I knew that he wouldn't take me seriously had I not gone through with it. He's since improved. He follows rules well and knows that I'll give him consequences for everything he does - good or bad.

Before, vacation was a negative consequence for negative behavior. This year, it is a reward for doing well during the school year and summer time. I'm hoping that this vacation will allow us both time to practice self-care. To eat, play and be merry.

Up next - Some rules to help your child have a great vacation.

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, August 22). Self-Care: Take a Vacation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 23 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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