Being a parent is already a full-time job. But when your child has special needs, it’s more like overtime on steroids every single day. If you continue to work yourself until your face is blue, you’re not going to have much left to give when it comes to what your child needs. Parents with special needs children are at higher risk of developing a mental illness like depression. In order to avoid these mental health issues that could compromise the way you care for your child, you’re going to need to learn how to avoid caregiver’s burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Caregiver’s burnout is when the person who is taking care of the individual with needs is exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Unfortunately, this is something that is very common in parents who have children with special needs. Considering the stress that parents are already under, having a child that needs extra care takes that extra toll on you.
Symptoms Of Burn Out
- A wide range of emotions throughout the day
- Catching illnesses easily or feeling sick often
- Feeling fatigued and run down no matter how much you sleep
- Becoming socially isolated by always canceling plans or going out of your way to avoid being around people
- You have no hobbies because you feel you have no time or energy
- You neglect self-care
- Have problems sleeping
- Easily overwhelmed
- Having negative thoughts about your child or your situation
Tips to Avoid Burnout
Ask for Help
This is something that a lot of us can do more of. We don’t want to be a bother, we don’t want to bug anyone with our problems, but we need to. You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? How many villages do you think it takes to help with a special needs child? You can’t do this alone. If you are married, just the two of you won't cut it either. Ask family members to come to babysit or watch the kids while you get work done around the house. You don’t need to be going at this alone. If you don’t have family that can help and you can’t afford to hire a temporary caregiver, you can seek out free support groups and talk to other parents and learn how they manage.
“You Time” Is Important
You make sure that your child is fed, dressed, clean, and satisfied. If they are bored, you find a way to keep them entertained. If they are tired, you put them to bed. But what about you? If you let your self-care slip, you won't be at 100% when taking care of your child. Give yourself time to soak in the tub with a good book and good smelling candles. Go shopping for something that no one but you would enjoy or benefit from. Go see a movie by yourself with no popcorn spills or ten-bathroom breaks. “You time” is important.
When you have a child with a disability, people are going to stare. People might say things that hurt your feelings or do things that make you upset, and you are going to have to learn how to deal with it. You don’t have to sit idly by while a grown adult makes fun of your child, you are just going to have to learn not to let it take a toll on you while you deal with the problem. You can’t let other people determine how you feel because an upset parent can sometimes make their children upset, too.
Do you have a child with special needs? What are some ways that you avoid burnout? Leave your tips in the comment section below!