By Guest Blogger Emily Graham
As the parent of a child with special needs, I often find myself feeling exhausted. It can be a lot of work to meet my child’s unique needs, and there are often barely enough hours in the day to get everything done. What’s more, I often feel like I’m operating on constant high alert, always ready to deal with whatever challenges my child may face.
As a result, fatigue is a common problem for parents like me. And it’s not just physical fatigue – I often find myself feeling emotionally and mentally drained as well. It can be hard to keep up with everything, and it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough. But I try to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all anyone can ask for. Raising a child with special needs is a unique challenge, but it’s also a rewarding one.
And even on the toughest days, I know that it’s all worth it.
What’s more, I know I’m not alone here. According to research, over 3 million children in the U.S. have a disability of some kind. These kids face many challenges — and so do their parents. Parenting a child with special needs is often a full-time job, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the daily responsibilities. It’s no surprise, then, that many special needs parents often experience parental fatigue. Though parental fatigue can feel inescapable, this article will help you find ways to mitigate the problem.
Address Any Potential Health Struggles
If you’re not sure whether you are experiencing parental fatigue, there are a few red flags you can look for. Have you been losing sleep? Do you feel like you’re failing as a parent? Have you been struggling with depression or other mental health issues? If you answered yes to these questions, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with parental fatigue.
The latter of these symptoms — mental health struggles — is a particularly concerning issue. If you are depressed, it’s important to seek help from a psychiatric professional. You may receive a prescription for antidepressants. The medication chosen will depend on your symptoms, whether you are on any other medication, and whether you have pre-existing conditions. Although antidepressants aren’t always the right treatment, your provider can help you monitor potential side effects and gauge whether the medication is effective.
Seeking treatment for your mental and physical health is an important part of lowering your fatigue levels. You can improve both by making improvements to your lifestyle, too. Adopting a diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in processed foods has been shown to reduce the inflammation that’s associated with depression. It will also likely improve your energy levels and physical health.
Make Time for Self-Care Activities
Taking care of your physical and mental health is important, but it’s also the bare minimum. In order to effectively combat fatigue, you should truly invest in yourself — and this means creating a self-care regimen. It’s important to find a balance between parenting and self-care, though. Overindulging in self-care can leave your family feeling neglected.
One of the best forms of self-care is pursuing a personal goal. If you’ve always dreamed of going back to school, for example, there are options you can explore. Say you’re interested in learning skills to open your own business. There are various business degrees available through online universities that can help you achieve these goals. What’s more, with multiple start times and the ability to learn from home on your own schedule, you won’t have to worry about making time to attend a traditional in-person class.
Don’t Succumb to Burnout from Parenting
There are so many responsibilities to juggle when you’re a parent to a child with special needs. If you’re dealing with depression, though, it’s imperative not to ignore the problem. Similarly, if you have dreams of going back to school, you shouldn’t put them on the back burner. Ignoring your own needs will only worsen parental fatigue. Find a way to enjoy life and be the best parent you can be — that’s all you can do!
Bio: Emily Graham is the creator of Mighty Moms. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.