As a parent how often do you think of your own needs?

How often do you step back and allow someone else to take control so that you can unwind, de-stress and have some me time?

The most popular answer for those of us with disabled children would be WE DON'T.

Parenting is hard, but just for five minutes if you don't have a disabled child put yourself in our footsteps, imagine you have a disabled child. For us its hearing loss and ADHD but it can be anything that impedes your child’s sensory, mental, cognitive, emotional and physical development. As a parent it is our job to look after our children. We take on this role knowing that it won’t be easy. It will be hard, there will be sleeplessness and worry, tears and joy at watching your child grow strong and happy. Now imagine what it would be like if one or more of your children were disabled. What would it be like if you were suddenly faced with the prospect of raising child with additional needs?

It’s in that instant that you subconsciously and physically go from being a mother, father, parent to a carer.

This can have a knock on effect on our own lives, health and well being. Your needs suddenly go on the back burner, there is no you or I, only them.

For many parents it’s a dark, lonely, isolated place. They find themselves cut off from their old lives. There’s no going out, reading a book, unwinding, pampering. There is only looking after the children's needs and making sure that they have the best care and help. You can’t or don't take the time to relax as you are always on the alert. Carers are very often misunderstood as emotional robots. We know that’s not true. There is so much to think about and do without having to think of other peoples needs. This can make it hard to keep friendships as you eventually push them away so that you can concentrate on your life at home.

On a personal note though after 7 years I have finally found that looking after your own needs is one of the most important things you can do not only for yourself but for your child. How can you be there emotionally and physically for your child if you don't look after yourself?

Raising a disabled child can have a huge impact on your health. In my own personal experience my weight ballooned, I felt tired all the time I would be in bed by 8 pm and still wouldn't want to get up the next morning. I felt sick a lot of the time and was constantly plagued with coughs and colds. Also I was slowly descending into depression.

Finally after a massive relationship breakdown caused in part by our inability to cope together as a team I finally had a turn around and took a step back and realised that in order to give my children the best chance I had to be healthy and well. Our biggest feat at that time was getting our relationship back on track. We started to spend more time with family. I was also lucky that I had a great group of friends who are all my rock and who don't judge me. Laughter sometimes is the best medicine.

It’s hard to get yourself out there but it’s important to widen the support network in order for you to be able to keep a healthy balance. For me finding a job that I could work around my children gave me the confidence to start my own blog and hopefully help other parents. I qualified as a holistic therapist mainly so that I could use the massage with my children but it also means that I can go out into the world and have an hour making someone else happy. This in turn gives me great job satisfaction.

Taking the time to revive past hobbies like reading or going for a walk can all have a positive effect. I always assumed that now I was a parent/carer I couldn't relax with having nails and eyebrows done but you would be surprised how many professionals will come to the house which means when the children are in bed I can feel a little pampered.

Being a carer is hard. What works for one person may not work for another, but by being a little more in control of your life as a parent and taking the sometimes necessary steps as a carer to have a break can only be a positive.

Leanne is a mum of four children living and raising a family with three children two of whom have mild-moderate sensori neural hearing loss and a third child who has sensory neural hearing loss as well as a diagnosis of ADHD.

Family Fund have been a part of their lives for two years now after being told about how they can help with grants for disabled children. We have found the help that we’ve received a god send.

You can read more from Leanne at