Monday, November 18, 2013

A New National Day of Giving: #GivingTuesday

The holidays are coming soon. So what does that really mean? Presents? Holiday lights? Candles? Tree decorations? To some that may be what the holidays mean, but for the children at the Murray Child Development Center it means receiving a book they can find adventures in or a teddy bear that can keep them safe at night. Giving them the joy and the comfort of the holiday spirit.

At the Altrusa House in Gainesville, members celebrate the holidays by giving their specially-handmade arts and crafts to their loved ones. Giving them independence and enjoyment of the company of their families during the holiday season.

But for some, the holiday season is giving back to the community through volunteerism and helping others during this time of year. Volunteering their time, energy, and laughter. Giving those we serve at Easter Seals Florida the blessings of their monetary donations, in-kind support, or volunteerism.

Join us on #GivingTuesday to really understand the meaning of giving back. Find more information, visit

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Blogger: Margery Pabst- CAREGIVING: 3 Common Mistakes

November is National Caregivers Month, an appropriate time to reflect on our roles as caregivers, and a time to look forward to creating even more quality days and moments for ourselves and our loved ones.
If we work on improving three common mistakes, we can achieve more of those quality moments!

First, don’t avoid your feelings.  Keep in touch with your emotional self as you care for others and communicate those feelings directly and as candidly as possible.  It’s common to stifle your feelings and focus only on the needs and emotions of loved ones and family. 

As a caregiver, the situation you face is emotional and charged with underlying stress.  First get in touch with yourself, and expressing your fears, doubts, and needs is the first step.  Some tips to consider are:  Use statements like, “I am scared about the future” or “I feel so much pressure”, or “I am concerned about making a mistake with the medication.”  Your open acknowledgement will encourage others to be helpful and to be honest with you.  Encouraging your patient/care partner to express open and honest feelings is also healthy and helps you both to forge an even deeper relationship.

Second, don’t avoid dealing with family conflict.  Identifying problems early and dealing with them directly is the best plan.  A family conflict can cost everyone heartache, productivity, and money and rob the family of those quality days.
A strong foundation for dealing with family conflicts will exist if everyone shares feelings, concerns, and needs openly and honestly.  If the caregiver sets the stage for the exchange of ideas, a higher probability for success in saving time, money, and hurt feelings will result.  Some tips for dealing with family conflict:
  • keep everyone informed.
  • have frequent meetings/gatherings.
  • seek common agreements before dealing with disagreements.

Third, don’t do everything yourself.  Build your caregiving community from your network of family, then friends, and then community and professional contacts.
Caregivers, particularly those dealing with chronic illness, can easily wear themselves out and it is a mistake to go it alone.  Other people may complete your tasks in a different way than you might, but let your feelings about “doing everything a certain way” go and roll with the flow.  Some tips for letting others help:
  • begin with one trusted person and delegate a few, specific tasks.
  • slowly develop a wider circle of friends, family, and community members to take on appropriate roles.
  • write down your successes as others help you in your caregiving role.
  • make sure to include professionals like attorneys, accountants, and spiritual advisors in your community circle.

Finally, always keep the goal in mind–creating quality moments and quality days for you and your loved ones.  Have a wonderful November and Happy Caregivers Month!

Margery Pabst is the author of “Words of Care”, her most recent book found on,, and  “Words of Care” is her fourth book on life transitions.  Margery is eCareDiary’s caregiving expert and the host of two BlogTalkRadio shows, Caregivers Speak! and Caregiver and Physician Conversations, sponsored by

Friday, November 1, 2013

Flight Of A Mom With A Special Needs Child-Guest Blogger Marva Caldwell

When we are about to take off on a flight, the flight attendants instruct us about our seat belts, emergency exits and oxygen masks. Few of us pay attention.  We are busy settling a baby, telling our kids not to kick the seat in front of you and getting the DVD player rigged up. However, we are told if the oxygen mask drops from the compartment above to put your mask on first. Do you remember why? You can’t help your child/children if you don’t help yourself first and pass out from lack of oxygen. So why don’t we apply this in other areas of our lives that have taken flight in a direction we haven’t planned for? Especially if you have boarded the flight of a mom with a special needs child. 

When we become mothers we often neglect ourselves as we care for our children. I am a mom of two little boys and ride the turbulent flight of health and learning problems for each one of my sons. It has taken time and effort to make sure both have proper care, Doctor’s, OT, PT, Speech, Learning Specialists, finding the right school, educating teachers about their needs, researching and being an advocate.

 Maybe your experience began during pregnancy, when your child was born, in the NICU or during his/her first few years of life. You took on the role of being a mom and your child’s care needs are many: appointments, medication, daily functioning, nursing, emotional and social needs. You cope with crisis daily and are well versed in case management. You are struggling to look after your child/children, family and there is no time for you.  As mothers we just put our head down and power through the turbulence… but what about the emotional and physical jet lag we experience? You are a mother, wife/partner, caregiver, advocate and expert on your child and children… but are you an expert on you? 

Flight of a Mom with a Special Needs Child: 5 Ways to put your Oxygen Mask on First!

  1. Increase your energy….Mom’s Energy formula. You need more energy than other mom’s to navigate the flight plan for your special needs child. Here is a simple formula.  Mom’s Emotional Health + Mom’s Physical health = Energy to Care. We need to be in good form and flight trained emotionally and physically to do what we have too.  
  2. Get rid of your guilt. Sounds simple but this is a struggle for most mothers.  Mommy guilt is huge. It can deplete and run you down. Guilt can tell you that you don’t deserve to take time away from your child, to talk to your friend, read a book for 10 minutes, take a nap, go out to dinner with your husband or bring in respite care for your child.  Guilt can shame you into not looking after you. It eventually robs you of your emotional and physical reserves. You need to recharge, don’t feel guilty. You matter and if you are not doing well how can you look after everyone else?
  3. Prevent Emotional and Physical Jet Lag or it will catch up with you. Look after you. Moms often neglect the basics of eating, sleeping and getting exercise. I know this is sometimes easier said than done.  Especially, when you have to make calls or go to doctor’s appointments or do physical therapy at home with your child. It is probably hard for you to say, but 10 minutes of you time is just as important as your child’s physical therapy. You can start with small steps: sitting down to eat for one meal a day, enjoying your coffee while chatting with a friend on the phone, going to bed earlier one night a week, a quick 10 minute workout or taking a walk by yourself. If you look after your physical needs it will help you cope emotionally. You will be more tolerant and stand up better under pressure and crisis.          
  4. Find something for yourself. Working, volunteering or developing an interest.  You may already do this but having something outside of your caregiver, mom role is very important. It insulates you and keeps you from crashing. If you have a reserve of interests you can tap into it, it will help you stay grounded and see beyond the overwhelming loving tasks you do as a caregiver. It is an investment in you and your ability to do what needs to be done.
  5. Ask for help. It is hard for Moms with special needs children to let go. You are the center of care for your child. You are the engine and propeller that makes everything run. To prevent an engine malfunction that sends you careening into the unknown, reach out. You are not alone. Seek respite care or find a camp that specializes in helping you and your child.  Easter Seals Florida looks after the child and family as a whole. They will help you recharge and feel comfortable with the care your child is receiving while being away from you. This is not only a gift for you but your child too.  Your child will gain independence, confidence, increase their social skills have fun and enjoy new experiences.
Is asking for help and letting go your biggest fear? It might be! But finding support could be the parachute you need; it will make the difference in your life, your child’s and your relationship with your spouse/partner. For more information about Easter Seals Florida respite care contact: 

2010 Mizell Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 629-7881

If you would like more information about counseling and support for moms with special needs children please contact: 

Marva Caldwell MA, LMHC,NCC
Women's and Maternal Wellness 

(M) 407-808-6551

About the Author: Marva Caldwell MA, LMHC, NCC is a mom and licensed women’s counselor at Orlando Women’s Counseling. She recognizes the unique physical and emotional needs of women across their lifespan; from adolescents to menopause. Marva has a strong foundation in Women’s Health, Maternal Mental Health/ Wellness and Parenting.  Marva, at Orlando Women’s Counseling works with women of all ages as a counselor, therapist, educator and communicator.

Join the Conversation!

You may have questions or concerns and we may have answers.