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The importance of self-care for parents of children with special needs

Being a parent comes with its challenges, but when you have a child with special needs, those challenges are amplified. It’s not uncommon for parents to become so focused on their child’s needs that they forget about their own. However, self-care should be a top priority for parents of children with special needs. In this article from Seasons Therapy Centre, we’ll explore some essential self-care elements that can help parents stay healthy, happy, and well-supported.


As a parent of a child with special needs, you may feel like there’s always something that needs your attention. However, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Even just a few minutes to yourself can help you recharge and refocus. Find an activity that relaxes you, such as reading a book or taking a walk, and schedule it into your day.

Support Network

Having a support network is crucial for any parent, but it’s especially important for parents of children with special needs. This can include family members, friends, family support groups, or even online communities. Knowing that you have people in your corner who understand what you’re going through can make a world of difference.


Eating well is an important part of self-care. When you’re busy taking care of your child, it can be easy to grab whatever is convenient. But, making a point to keep healthy foods within reach can help you stay fueled and energized. Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and try to avoid sugary or processed foods.


Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health. Even if you only have a few minutes a day, finding time to move your body can make a big difference. This could be as simple as stretching or taking a short walk around the block. If you have more time, consider joining a fitness class or finding an exercise buddy to keep you accountable.


Setting boundaries is important for any parent, but it can be especially challenging for parents of children with special needs. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your child’s care and neglect your own needs. However, setting boundaries can help you maintain balance and prevent burnout. This could mean scheduling “me time” into your day or saying no to commitments that don’t align with your priorities.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Self-care shouldn’t be an afterthought — it should be intentional. Make a point to prioritize self-care in your daily routine. This could mean scheduling regular massages or facials, taking a relaxing bath before bed, or practicing mindfulness meditation. Whatever helps you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, make it a regular part of your routine.

Reasonable and Achievable Goals

Setting goals can help you stay motivated and on track, but it’s important to set goals that are reasonable and achievable. As a parent of a child with special needs, your time and energy may be limited. That’s okay – focus on setting small, attainable goals that you can work towards each day. Celebrate your progress along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a goal.

Self-care is crucial for parents who are raising children with special needs. Developing a self-care plan that includes taking breaks, building a support network, focusing on nutrition, and more can help parents avoid burnout and provide better care for their children. Parents should understand that prioritizing their own well-being isn’t selfish, but rather an essential step in becoming the best caregiver possible.

Written by: Charlene Roth from

For online therapy services for children, adolescents, and adults, visit Seasons Therapy Centre today!

What type of therapist do I need?

There are so many types of different therapists, and it can be challenging to figure out which one is the right fit for you or your child. This blog post will hopefully help you make a better-informed decision on which kind of therapy is best for you or your kids.

A psychotherapist primarily uses talk therapy and can help children dealing with a wide range of issues, including but not limited to ADHD, anxiety, depression, executive functioning, eating and food issues, sleep and emotional regulation. The psychotherapists on our team have been trained in various modalities, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy as well as art and play therapy. Since psychotherapy is a regulated profession, it is often covered by insurance companies. Psychotherapy fees are not covered by OHIP. A psychotherapist cannot diagnose mental health or behavioural disorders and are unable to provide prescriptions or medication.

While a psychologist
 can provide a mental health diagnosis, they cannot prescribe medications. Psychology fees are not covered by OHIP, though many insurance companies provide psychology coverage. A psychologist can do psycho-educational assessments. Psychologists typically see clients for 6-20 sessions but occasionally do one-off assessments.

An art therapist is someone who is trained in psychotherapy and art therapy. An art therapist can help a child express themselves not only verbally but through art as well. Art therapy is not a regulated profession and, thus, is often not covered by most insurance companies.

A psychiatrist can assess for and diagnose mental health concerns and prescribe medication. They may make recommendations to the primary care provider about prescriptions. Sessions with a psychiatrist are covered by OHIP and require a referral by a GP.

A development pediatrician can assess for autism, ADHD and other developmental and neurodevelopment disorders. Their services are covered by OHIP, and a primary care provider can refer children to a developmental pediatrician.

Social workers are regulated health professionals who work with clients—individuals, families, groups and communities—to improve individual and collective well-being. They often work in interdisciplinary teams to provide services, share resources, improve conditions and create opportunities for growth, recovery and personal development.

back to school supplies

Back-to-School Tips for Anxious Kids!

Are your kids feeling anxious about going back to school? Perhaps they’re starting school for the first time this year or returning to in-person after doing virtual. Here are some tips to help them ease their worries and transition into the new school year.

Establish and practice a back-to-school routine: If you’ve been enjoying the summer and the late sunsets then most likely your kids have been going to bed late. Don’t wait until the Sunday before school starts to establish new bedtimes. Start pushing bedtime earlier and earlier, a little each day, starting around the week before school starts. Help your kids with the school morning routine by giving them a checklist, for young kids, a visual checklist of what needs to be done can be helpful. For older children, try using a wipe board checklist that can be reused. The dollar store has great supplies for this. Keep it simple; Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and pack a bag. Completing the list before school sets your kids up for success, by starting the day off with a feeling of accomplishment. 

Go over the basics: Try to get your hands on your school’s schedule – let your kids know what time recess/lunchtime is, how the day pans out. If you know where their classroom is in relation to the bathroom, draw them a map. Show them where the exits are in the school. Knowing the answers to these questions can help your child feel prepared. 

Involve your child in getting ready for back-to-school. Including your child in some aspect of getting ready for back-to-school can help parents have a natural conversation about back-to-school and can get them excited. Give them some choices if you’re buying new supplies, a choice can be between two items as opposed to overwhelming them by choosing between a big selection. Letting your child make the choice helps them to feel independent and more in control. 

Take your child to visit the school. Take your child to their school – if possible have them visit their classroom, walk the halls and check out the lunch room. If not possible, even visiting the grounds of the school and familiarizing themselves with the playground, etc can be helpful.  Children learn through their senses so direct exposure can help them learn and understand what to expect. It is also beneficial to rehearse the commute to school. On the walk or during the car ride talk with your child about what they’re seeing, counting the number of stop signs, traffic lights etc. This helps them to know how the route works.

Five year old boy with hands painted in colorful paints ready for hand prints

A Guide to Screen Time for Parents

Screens are everywhere in our modern world, but spending too much time looking at screens can be harmful for children. Setting limits on screen time can protect your child’s health, with many tools available to limit what types of content your child can access online and for how long. To help parents, MyVision, an organization of expert ophthalmologists and optometrists who aim to provide trusted information on eye health and vision, created a guide on Screen Time for Parents, reviewed by Dr. Carli Bunn, a board-certified optometrist at Eye Care Associates. This guide features information on how to develop screen time rules and enforcing them, teaching digital literacy and additional resources for parents.

Click here to read the Screen Time Guide

Why is everyone preaching about Gratitude?

I’ve been cultivating my gratitude practice for around 5 years now. It’s not one of those practices that makes an immediate difference in your life, it takes times to grow and rewire neurons in your brain, but it does and will happen with time. Donald Hebb, a neuropsychologist once said that “neurons that fire together, wire together” and he was 100% right.

Two major shifts occurred in my life as a result of practicing gratitude. The first was a shift from pessimism to optimism. I was never very good at seeing the glass half full, it was always verging on empty for me. Practicing gratitude made a shift in my thinking, it meant that instead of immediately going to the negative there was a pause, a moment to consider that there were other options. It didn’t happen overnight and there wasn’t a Moses parting the seas moment for me to see the change. It happened very quietly, but it did happen. The first time I recognized it was in a flower shop. It was busy and I thought I had jumped the line, so I turned to apologize to the man beside me and he said “oh don’t worry, I’m still thinking, there’s too much choice in here”. My reply, instantly was “I’m glad this is my hardest choice, which flowers to buy”. I didn’t think anything of it, I got in the car and drove off. Sitting at the traffic light it dawned on me, normally I would have agreed with the man however, instead my brain had searched for a positive.

The second thing that shifted was the ability to recognize the good in my life instead of a focus on what I didn’t have. Some times I think people get this confused with always being able to find a silver lining. In some situations there just aren’t silver linings, no matter how hard we search, this is part of life and learning to practice acceptance of that is for another completely different post. Being able to be grateful for what you have means that tiny voice that points out all thing things you don’t have becomes much quieter.

So how to practice Gratitude?

Set yourself up for success, this is what I always tell my clients, look for ways to be consistent and make your practice sustainable. For me, that means I leave my gratitude notebook beside my bed, visible to me every time I come into my bedroom. I do it at night, before bed. I attach a pen to my notebook so I can never have the excuse “I don’t have something to write with”. Find a time of the day that works for you. Our brains learn through association, with practice your brain will begin to associate that time of day with gratitude and will remind you all on its own.

Don’t get fancy, don’t buy a notebook from Indigo that asks you to write 5 things you’re grateful every day, cause that will be fun for a couple days and then you’ll get bored. Keep it simple. Write the words: “I’m grateful for….” and fill in the blanks, one thing, once a day. On hard days I’ve been grateful for my coffee and a moment of silence, for sunshine or for my body being healthy. Some days are easier than others but there’s always something, big or small.

Be patient and keep at it. It will work, this much I know is true.

If you don’t believe me – maybe you’ll believe those smarty pants at Harvard or Stanford.

Helpful Parenting Resources

Photo Credit: Unsplash

For all Stages of Your Child’s Life!

By: Leslie Campos from WellParents

There are few things more thrilling than meeting your child for the first time. There are also few things that are more terrifying. The responsibility of nurturing this tiny life can be overwhelming. Some days it will even seem like you’re going it alone, but fortunately, you’re not. There are tons of resources that can help you manage every stage of your child’s life. To help, Seasons Therapy Centre has gathered some of the best advice here to give you guidance all the way through. 

Infants and Toddlers

The first few years of your child’s life are your chance to give them a great start. These resources will help you build your child’s foundation.

Your Child’s Development: What to Expect

Keep Your Baby Active with Tummy Time

Reading Tips for Parents of Toddlers

Preschoolers and Children

As your child navigates the first several years of school, they’ll begin to learn who they are. Here’s how you can guide them toward their best selves.

Surviving the First Day at Preschool

How to Help Kids Make Friends: 10 Evidence-Based Tips

What Are Commons Signs That a Child Has Special Needs?

Tweens and Teens

This time signals lots of change, growing independence, and, eventually, the transition into adult life. Support your soon-to-be adult while giving them the space to grow.

Talking with Your Pre-Teen About Puberty and Sexuality

Tips for Surviving — and Thriving — During School Transitions

Advice for Parents When Children Leave Home

Maintaining Routines

Each stage of life comes with its fair share of ups and downs, but to mitigate stress for children, it’s important to stay organized and keep up with routines.

How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living

A Stress-Free Morning Routine That Works

Making Family Mealtime an Important Tradition

Your job as a parent won’t be over once your child moves out and enters their adult life, but it will change. Take the chance to lean back, take a breath, and relax with the confidence that you’ve given your child the best head start possible.

Toddlers and Self-Isolation – Ideas for small hands

Are you stuck at home with a toddler? We have plenty of experience hanging with these small people – here are some scheduling and art suggestions for trying to maintain your sanity. Babies and toddlers like routine, their world is so unpredictable so providing them with some sort of routine helps them to know what is coming next. If you’ve got a babe between the ages of 18+ months to 3 years try out our daycare schedule for them.

8:30-9:30 free play
Clean up
9:45am circle time – we’re hosting a FREE circle time on Tuesday/Friday if you want to join – send us an email!
10am – snack
10:30 – outdoor play
11:30 – lunch
12-2:30 nap time
3-4pm outdoor play
4pm snack time
4:30pm art
5-5:30 free play.

Art Ideas

A list of materials needed (all can be purchased at your local dollar store, which is currently still open).

        • Paper
        • Markers
        • Watercolour Paint
        • Gluestick
        • Salad Spinner
        • Shaving Cream
        • Food colouring
        • Qtips
        • Paint
        • Bingo Dabber

Letter Art: Toddlers love repetition – we start the week off with a letter and base all our crafts on that letter. In September we started on letter A and have moved through the whole alphabet. Art is a great activity for tots as it helps with fine motor skills and they learn a lot through play. You can print or draw bubble letters and have them glue pieces of paper/tissue paper inside. The scrunch, scrunch stick is a good repetitive action that their little hands can handle. Plus gluing with gluesticks is a fan favorite around here, for us because it doesn’t involve as much mess. A set of watercolour paints (available at the dollar store) is another great way to minimize the mess. Just add a little water to the tray and let them go wild

.toddlers painting letters

Handprints: If you’re going to do handprint painting, have a small bucket of soapy water nearby so you can wash hands quickly. We’ve done a lot of handprint art – sometimes just letting them paint their own hand is enough entertainment for them.handprint art

Salad Spinner Art: have a salad spinner at home? This one is super easy and lots of fun, plus it creates some pretty beautiful masterpieces. Cut a piece of paper the size of the salad spinner and place it at the bottom of the spinner. Then squeeze some different colour paints onto the paper circle, put the lid on the spinner and spin away.

salad spinner art

Shaving Cream Art: all you need is some shaving cream and some food colouring for this one. Spray the shaving cream into a deep dish and then add drops of food colouring. Have your tot use the end of a spoon to stir it around and make a design then take a piece of cardstock and press it into the shaving cream. Then scrape off the extra shaving cream using a straight edge of a piece of cardboard and voila.shaving cream art

Qtip painting: another great painting activity that does not involve as much mess. There are so many things you could paint, we usually go with a tree and have them add the leaves. This is a good activity to learn about the different seasons.qtip painting for toddlers

Counting Art: get yourself a bingo dabber, another great purchase from Dollarama. This is great for art with tots, especially counting art. We usually do an activity where we draw the numbers from 1-10 and have them make the correct number of corresponding dots.

bingo dabber art


It’s ok to go dark sometimes…it’s totally ok to NOT BE OK right now.

Say this sometimes to yourself, it can be helpful.


I took a class recently – on Mindful Self-Compassion and there’s a theory about self-compassion being composed of 3 basic things – mindfulness, self-kindness and common humanity. I took this class with the amazing Dr.Heidi Walk and it uses the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. I’ll break down the 3 parts, if you’re new to this theory. 


So be “NOT OK” and give yourself a fucking hug. Tell yourself what a friend would tell you. Pretend you live on another planet (which would actually be really cool right now, you wouldn’t have to deal with any of this craziness, there’s no COVID-19 on Mars…or isssss there? Ok sorry…so you’re on Mars and your friend calls you and says, listen to what happened on earth today. Would you believe it? Would you feel like you were listening to a movie plot? Maybe, but either way bet you wouldn’t be so hard on your friend about their insecurities around their future and the world’s future. So try being kind to yourself when you’re not ok..try being a good friend to yourself. 


Today I was watching Clone Wars with my son…it’s a Star Wars spin-off, it’s on Disney, maybe not entirely age-appropriate but seriously, if you judge me on that you’re missing the whole point here, anyway….in the intro of the episode we were watching, it talks about how the Jedi have been sent to live far below the surface, cause of some Dark force guy and the similarity to our actual world…well that thought alone sent me into dark mode. You know, shaky feel, heart flutters..uncertainty at the end of every thought. But about halfway down the scary rabbit hole, I pulled myself out and that there, folks is mindfulness…being aware of the moment you’re in. Just the moment…catching yourself in your negative thought patterns. 

Common Humanity:

Maybe some of the people in your life will go dark too…let them have their space. Don’t let anyone go dark for too long though, have an accountability partner.

If you live alone…have an accountability partner.

If you live with people but feel like you live alone….have an accountability partner.

If you live with people who you like 90% of the time (be grateful) and also have a damn accountability partner.

You get the point?

So here’s what I suggest on how we’re going to be a #COVID19Jedi and not let the dark force win. 

Be mindful of when you go dark. Be kind to yourself in that moment and then find a fellow Jedi and be stronger together…be accountable for someone and to someone. 

One day at a time people….one moment…through each step of darkness, we’ll rise to be Guardians of Justice and Peace in the Universe, for people and especially for the Universe.

ps. Just so you know I’m not some huge Star Wars fan…don’t get me wrong I like it and all, but seriously who hasn’t wanted to be some form of a Jedi at some point in their life? Look up the definition of Jedi on google…the second part of the first sentence and then go find your inner Jedi, especially when the dark is lurking around any corner. 

Online Therapy

If you’re struggling at the moment to keep your mental health in a good state, you’re not alone. We’re offering online virtual therapy sessions! Seasons offer therapy for children, adolescents and adults. We also help families navigate some of the challenges of parenting through workshops.
Nikki Goldman Stroh is a Registered Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience providing therapy to children and adults. Nikki started working with children and adolescents using Art and Play therapy. She now works mostly with adults dealing with anxiety and depression. Nikki began her training at Fanshawe College where she completed a diploma in photography. Later she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Western Ontario, and then a post-graduate diploma in Art therapy from the Toronto Art Therapy Institute. Over the years Nikki has taken additional training in psychology, counseling techniques and play therapy at the George Brown College and the Sick Kids Centre for Community Mental Health (formally Hincks-Delcrest). Nikki is a strong believer in using mindfulness and meditation with her clients. She has specialty training in CBT, counseling skills and both Art and Play Therapy. In a creative and caring environment, she helps people explore difficult issues and develop skills to stay calm while growing their self-worth and positive regard. Nikki has assisted people of all ages to work through transitions, anxiety, depression, OCD, selective mutism, divorce, adoption and socialization issues. Being creative is both professionally and personally relevant to Nikki. 
Individual Online Therapy Nikki provides therapy to those in need using a sliding scale for individual sessions. Sessions are available through a variety of mediums and can be claimed with a variety of insurance companies. Please contact us for more information. Or book your own Free 15-minute virtual Meet and Greet or a 50-minute psychotherapy session.
Registered Psychotherapist Nikki Goldman-Stroh