- Caregivers often overlook their own wellbeing due to being busy with taking care of others.
- This parent support group provides the outlet to provide mutual support amongst caregivers, as well as self reflection and exploration of issues.
A parent support group conducted at SPD@Bedok covers the importance of ‘Me Time’ for caregivers. They provide opportunities to foster mutual support and exchange ideas on self-care, so that caregivers will not feel alone in their caregiving journey. The participants have benefited effectively from this, and have started to network amongst themselves through sharing their similar life journeys.
In the second run of the parent support group conducted at SPD@Bedok, 11 caregivers registered for the five weekly sessions which started in February this year. The sessions covered areas such as understanding emotions, identifying challenges, coping strategies, recognising strengths and moving on.
During one of the sessions, participants were asked to stand up and stretch out their hands while holding a cup of water. They were then asked to guess how heavy the cup of water was. It was many guesses later that a parent replied: “The answer does not lie in the weight of the water but how long you need to hold the cup of water.”
This metaphor resonates with the caregivers, comprising mainly mothers who are primary caregivers of young children attending SPD’s Building Bridges EIPIC Centre. The hand was imagined to be the self, while the cup of water was regarded as the stressors of life.
In drawing inference from the activity, whenever a person feels tired in their caregiving role or dealing with life’s stressors, it is important that they take a break and rejuvenate before continuing their marathon.
Having ‘Me Time’ is of paramount importance to the caregivers as it may be challenging to find respite. Hence, the support group provides an opportunity for them to exchange ideas with other caregivers relating to self-care. Apart from this, the support group also sought to foster mutual support among caregivers so that they are empowered and do not feel alone in their caregiving journey.
“Bid Adieu to Stress” is a new activity introduced to encourage caregivers to write on a piece of paper the behaviours and things which cause stress and later proceeding to crush the piece of paper, signifying a farewell to the negativity that comes with stress.
“I see the bonds that these mothers built up after each session and is pleasantly surprised that they have started their own network amongst themselves by exchanging mobile numbers, having breakfast together and sharing their difficulties with each other. I could tell that they were really happy to have met one another as they walk a similar journey with each other,” said Michelle, who has been helping to facilitate such support groups in the past two years.
Participants had appreciated the safe platform for self-reflection and exploration of issues, thereby allowing them to manage their emotions better and helping them to look at situations from different perspectives.
“SPD’s parent support group has broadened my perspective on early intervention for my son, as parents involved were willing to share their valuable experiences with all present. This has allowed me to gain more confidence in my son’s upbringing. Thank you SPD!” said one of the participants, Ms Nadiah Binti Yahya.
Article contributed by SPD’s senior social worker Junaidah Binte Baharawi.