Autism Parenting: Essential Self-Care Strategies that Work


As an autism mom, everyone says you need to take care of yourself first, fill your own cup first, work on your stress levels. And I have no clue how to do that. 

One parent left this amazing quote on one of my videos and asked me to get into the topic of beginning to learn how to fill your cup first. And I remember being in that stage. So let me share what I’ve learned.

Before the diagnosis

Parenting. It can be such a beautiful journey, but it’s also stressful and demanding. And if your child has autism, it is now probably, I don’t know, ten times as demanding. At least that’s what it can seem like. So mentally, spiritually, physically. There are so many demands. Now, before autism, there was that typical juggling act of work and relationships and kids and responsibilities, the house and cooking, and all of that. Back then it was very easy for us to forget about ourselves, but we could kind of get away with it. 

Since the diagnosis

Now let’s think about your life since the autism diagnosis

So the stress of finding a doctor to get the diagnosis, maybe being on a waitlist. 

Then once you get the diagnosis, you had to get an IEP and work with the school team and create a team and learn what PT, OT, ABA, and all these other terms are. 

So big stress comes from wondering “Are you doing things right?” 

Maybe stress is also coming from wondering and worrying if you missed something. And maybe that kind of drives you to constantly do research on the Internet and speak to people. 

And so maybe you sleep a little less or you research at lunchtime so you skip eating. 

Then let’s not forget about the demands from your child themselves. Maybe they’re not sleeping and so that adds to the stress for everybody. 

Maybe school is not going well and school constantly calls you to pick up your child. 

Then maybe work starts getting more stressful because you’re constantly pulled away to handle situations at school with your child. 

I’m sure you can see that this person that I’m talking about is now under this tremendous amount of stress. Things are so demanding and it’s so much more stressful than before the autism diagnosis. 

Why prioritise self-care?

So why is it essential for parents to prioritize self-care and fill their own cup first? Well, it’s simple. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Imagine trying to give all to your family when you’re running on fumes. I’m sure, I know, I’ve tried it. I’ve done it. It’s not sustainable and it’s not fair to your loved ones. Think of yourself as that cup. When you’re empty, you have nothing to give. Taking the time to replenish and recharge, it isn’t selfish, it’s actually a necessity. When you prioritize self-care, you’re ensuring that you have the physical, emotional, and mental energy to be the best parent you can be. And I know you want to be a good parent. 

How to take care of yourself while juggling other demands?

Now when I first was thinking about self-care and autism, I was thinking expensive massages and you have to block off all this time. And I was like, who has time for that? So I learned to simplify things a little bit in the beginning. I certainly love massages now, but that’s more of an advanced move. 

Simple things

So going for a walk, reading a book, calling a friend, having a laugh, simply enjoying a quiet moment with a cup of coffee, are the kinds of things to do in the beginning that can help you recharge and start filling up your own cup. 

Make a list

Make a list of what fills your cup. That’s critical because when you’re stressed out, that’s not the time to think and come up with these good ideas. You want to just be like, ‘I’m stressed, let me figure this out. This is what I know works.’ 


And it’s not about the quantity of time you spend filling your cup, but the quality of the moments you create for yourself. 

Benefits of self-care

Now, let’s talk about the benefits. Why are we doing this? Why are we doing self-care? Why do we want this full cup? 

When you prioritize self-care, you’re not just benefiting yourself, you’re creating this positive ripple effect for your family. You become a model of self-love and resilience for your children. You teach them the importance of taking care of their own well-being, which is really important because they’re going to be in situations of stress and overwhelm. And they’re going to learn from you. Even if you might think they’re not able to learn anything or they’re not paying attention, they are. So if they see you get stressed and overwhelmed and how you handle that, they will learn that from you. 

Additionally, filling your own cup allows you to approach parenting with patience, understanding, and joy. You’ll find yourself better equipped to handle the challenges that come your way because you are going to have challenges and you can create a more harmonious and loving family environment. As a parent, you can get more done by filling your cup first. Does that make sense? Hopefully. It’s something that becomes a practice. So you just start with these small steps, and then you can see how much of a better parent you are when you have that patience. And where do you get that patience from? Recharging yourself. That’s the whole key. And you’ve got to start small. Build it up in a practice. 

Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. So fill your own cup first. When you do that, you are ensuring that you have an abundance to share with the people who matter most to you, your family, and your child. I really appreciate that mom leaving a great comment.