Would you believe this post started with an email? Gwen Payne wrote to ask if she could write an article to help the parents of kids with special needs. It’s not easy to raise children, but it’s even harder when they need more from you. I said absolutely, and this is what she wrote. I hope it helps you and your kids.
Making Time for Self-Care for Parents of Special Needs Kids
As a parent of a child with special needs, you know just how important it is to care for their emotional health in addition to their physical health. For many parents in your position, though, it can get exhausting to constantly give care and rarely receive it. According to research, 66% of working parents experience burnout — and this figure might be even higher for parents of special needs kids. In order to be the best parent you can be, it’s imperative that you make time for self-care. This article will help you find ways to take care of yourself and prevent parental fatigue.
Part 1: Recognize Your Roles Outside of Parenthood
It’s easy for any special needs parent to become absorbed by their role as a caregiver and forget that they have other interests, too. This is especially true when you’re battling parental fatigue and burnout. If you suspect that you may be fatigued, consider whether you’re parenting effectively — or whether you’re satisfied with your parenting. If you don’t feel that you’re at your best, this may be an indication you’re dealing with fatigue.
To combat it, consider what roles you have beyond your role as a parent. Are you a musician? Craft enthusiast? Writer? Reader? Tapping into other aspects of your identity can help you achieve a sense of balance that’s often lacking for fatigued parents of special needs kids.
Making time to invest in your other interests can be challenging, though. As you pursue a self-care plan, you may find that you struggle to seek help from your support system without overburdening them. To avoid this, you should simply be straightforward in your communications and ask your friends and family to set clear boundaries.
Part 2: Invest in Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Another way to assess your level of fatigue is to consider how much physical exercise you’re getting. In many cases, a lack of exercise can contribute to fatigue — especially for special needs parents who are tasked with daily caregiving. It’s important to make time for exercise and ensure you maintain a quality diet, too, in order to prevent physical exhaustion.
Of course, your physical health isn’t the only aspect of your wellbeing that necessitates care. You must also tend to your mental health in order to take care of yourself. It’s not uncommon for special needs parents to experience anxiety and depression, but an online therapy service can help combat these symptoms.
You can take advantage of the convenience of virtual therapy by scheduling an online appointment. This allows you to consider a wide variety of licensed providers, eliminate the need for travel, and pay less than a traditional therapist would charge. You may even be able to take advantage of a free consultation to ensure that your new therapist is a good fit.
Part 3: Don’t Get Burned Out on Caregiving
Caregiving of any kind is an arduous task. When you’re taking care of your special needs child, though, it’s an especially difficult responsibility. Feeling fatigued doesn’t make you a bad parent — it simply means that you’re human. You can mitigate this fatigue by investing in self-care, eating healthily, getting enough exercise, and scheduling an online therapy session. These steps can help you regain a sense of balance that will ultimately make you a better parent.
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!