Being the parent of a special needs child is rewarding but challenging. You may often feel wiped out at the end of the day with little time to address your own mental or physical health. The earlier you figure out how to take care of yourself, the better the outcomes will be for you and your child.
Evaluate Your Fatigue Level
Assess your fatigue level before drawing up a self-care plan. If you check one or more of these boxes, you have to commit to change, or you may find yourself experiencing burnout. Ask yourself the following questions.
- Are you able to get good quality sleep and look after your body?
- Do you have a network of people you can turn to when necessary?
- Have you lost a sense of purpose or fulfillment beyond your role as a parent?
Cover the Basics
While serving as someone’s rock, don’t forget that you aren’t one. You’re a human being. You need at least six to eight hours of sleep and fuel in the form of a balanced diet. In your circumstances, this is easier said than done. But try to prepare nourishing meals while your child is at therapy or set a bedtime routine so you can sleep soundly while your kid does.
Moments of Joy
Put relaxation on your schedule to reduce stress. Socialize with people who lift your mood, get a massage or haircut, or take your child to the park if they’re amenable, and you can enjoy a walk while they play.
Amidst the struggles, it can be hard to recognize the small victories. Start a gratitude journal. Take five minutes and savor moments where your child made progress, your partner was there for you, or anything else you appreciated about your day or week. This practice has tremendous benefits.
Counseling and Support Groups
Parenting is difficult, period. Having a special needs kid can feel overwhelming. But, guess what? You’re not alone.
- Look for safe spaces on the internet. Talk to other parents in similar situations and share tips.
- Visit a therapist if possible. You can hash out feelings of shame or failure or take your significant other along for couple counseling.
- Lean on your social support structures. You might not be able to go on vacation, but people who care about you will offer you a little respite at home. You can work out what wouldn’t classify as overburdening. For example, your neighbor who’s getting groceries anyway might be happy to get yours regularly too. If you have the financial means, hire the assistance you need.
For the sake of your long-term emotional well-being, your life has to be about more than just your child. Pursue hobbies that give you pleasure, or start a low-maintenance business. Work on getting further education. This goal is easier than ever with opportunities for self-paced distance learning online.
You can combat exhaustion by eating and sleeping well, prioritizing breaks, and asking loved ones for help. Focusing on the things you can control maintains balance and positivity for you and your child.