Self-Care Right Down to Your Toes
Parents of special needs children are often reminded to live by the airplane safety advice: “Put your oxygen mask on first so you’ll be able to help your child put theirs on.” The time, energy and resources required to help a child with exceptional needs often means there is very little time to put oneself first for self-care in any form.
Half an hour for a nap or to watch a sitcom as a brain break would be welcome, much less a date night for parents, a dinner out with friends, or a vacation somewhere. Even the simplest of these feel out of reach.
I’ve learned to make outdoor time with my autistic son into “me time” that restores me mentally and physically. But taking care of ourselves isn’t one-dimensional. To enjoy time outdoors with my son, I not only need time and the wherewithal to go somewhere, I also have to be healthy.
Walking is a great basic activity that mostly requires balance, flexibility and strength. I do well on those fronts, but there can be other obstacles. For me, it’s my feet.
Arthritis is a genetic “gift” passed down through my family, and I’ve been dealing with joint inflammation since my early thirties. I’ve managed it for many years, but in recent times, joint pain has become entrenched in my feet, which is not conducive to gathering photos and trail information for a hiking website!
To keep taking my son out on nature trails, I have to take care of myself. That means finding time to exercise, stretch, eat right, get enough rest, and though it costs a bit of money, get the right shoes. Even buying a new pair of hiking boots has become a challenge. I chose a new pair recommended by foot problem specialists, but I’ve been worried about causing new foot pain by wearing them.
Right in my time of need, I stumbled onto a very helpful post on the Kuhl Hiking page: How to Break In Hiking Boots: The Ultimate Guide. I am going to follow the steps listed in that article in hopes of developing a pain-free relationship with my new hiking footwear.
Long-gone are my youthful days of dancing in stiletto heels, toughing it out in a badass pair of cowboy boots a half size too small because it was the last pair on sale, and ice skating my way to blistered feet. Just maintaining basic foot functionality has become a hard-earned goal.
I look forward to giving my new hiking boots a workout on a steep trail once I get them broken in. In the meantime, it’s comfortable sneakers with orthotic supports for these aching feet!
May we all remember to stop, breathe, and take care of ourselves. Self-care needn’t be justified by saying it’s so you can take care of someone else, but if that’s what allows you to do something for yourself, that’s okay, too! Keep putting one foot forward!
This week’s HikingAutism Hike Notes from the archives is Rhubarb to Miwok Trail Overlook, a Marin hike that has enough hills to put hiking boots through a bit of a workout, but pays off with beautiful views.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 52): Rhubarb to Miwok Trail Overlook
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Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.