Overcoming Parental Fatigue: Tips for Parents of Special Needs Children January 10 2022

The excitement of guests and gifts and good food and special treats are wonderful aspects of the holidays. When the days after the holidays come, especially for parents and even more especially those with children with special developmental needs, these days can be particularly exhausting. Take a look at thoughts from our guest blogger, Gwen Payne, with ideas for self-care, diagnosis and remedy!

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Overcoming Parental Fatigue: Tips for Parents of Special Needs Children

While parenting is undeniably rewarding, it’s also incredibly exhausting. Most parents only have to face exhaustion for the first few years of childhood. But for parents of children with special needs, this sense of deep fatigue can seem never-ending. Between helping your child with dressing, feeding, and other basic needs, you also have to be your child’s advocate when dealing with doctors, insurance companies, teachers, and support staff.

Parental fatigue can chip away at your well-being until you reach a state of burnout. It’s important to acknowledge your fatigue and make a plan to cope before your exhaustion gets out of hand! In this article, we will help you diagnose your level of parental fatigue and develop a personal treatment plan.

Assess Your Fatigue Levels

Parents of special needs children often wonder whether or not their fatigue is normal. Assessing your personal fatigue levels can help you determine if your exhaustion is affecting your health and safety. When evaluating your fatigue levels, consider a few important questions:

  • How is your sleep quality?
  • What is your level of marital satisfaction?
  • How is your parenting effectiveness?
  • Do you have symptoms of anxiety or depression?

Asking yourself questions like these can help you establish all the ways in which your fatigue is affecting your mental, physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. When your fatigue is constant and ongoing, you may find yourself moving towards burnout. Healthline explains that feelings of confusion, isolation, and inadequacy are common among parents experiencing burnout. You may also feel a sense of despair and a detachment from the activities you once enjoyed. Burnout is a sign that your fatigue has reached a breaking point.

Once you have a better idea of your personal fatigue levels, you can create a treatment plan to overcome fatigue and improve your sense of wellbeing.

Chase Your Personal Goals

When you’re raising a child with special needs, it can be tough to find time for your passions. But spending time on personal pursuits can help you recapture your sense of self. As motherly explains, your children don’t have to be your entire life. Yes, they may need your care, guidance, and support, but they don’t require your attention at all times.

Make room for your own dreams and goals! Start a new hobby, launch a side business, join a local group, or go back to school so you can take your career to new heights. These pursuits can be worked into the busiest of schedules. For example, with the help of online schools like WGU, you have the flexibility to earn a bachelor’s degree on your own time.

Prepare for Challenges

Of course, making time for yourself is easier said than done when your child has special needs. Be prepared to confront a number of obstacles as you carve out space in your schedule for your own wants and needs. For example, you may wind up overburdening your support networks or shouldering your partner with an unequal share of your parenting responsibilities.

Sometimes, self-care can hurt more than it helps. Once you get in the habit of self-care, it can become too easy to avoid discomfort and say no to obligations and activities that would lead to personal growth. You also run the risk of masking mental issues like anxiety and depression with acts of self-care. Practicing self-care isn’t about distracting yourself from unpleasant feelings with indulgent behaviors.

Self-care is an active process. It’s about taking control over your health and your needs, confronting difficult emotions, and choosing activities that enrich your mind and body. It’s important to draw a line between self-care and self-indulgence.

Raising a child with special needs isn’t easy. The threat of parental burnout is all too real, especially when you neglect your own needs to care for your kids. Try to pay attention to your level of parental fatigue so you can be proactive about your health and wellbeing. A little self-care can go a long way!

Explore the Waldorf Publications website for books on everything from child development to economics.