Most parents of children with disabilities eventually become exhausted, both physically and emotionally. While this exhaustion can make you feel helpless, it’s not a hopeless situation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stuck in the cycle of fatigue, UPMI Steam presents some ways to avoid and treat exhaustion as a parent of a special needs child.
Consider Your Relative Level of Fatigue
How do you know if you’re exhausted? Think about your sleep quality, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and parenting effectiveness. If you have trouble sleeping, feel tired all day, or have trouble coping with everyday stressors, it’s time to reevaluate your physical and mental health. Pay attention to your activities, and get more sleep. You may have developed anxiety, which can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Like most parents, you’re probably juggling multiple schedules, and you may find it difficult to get any time for yourself. But if you have a child with a disability, you may notice that while everyone else is resting up in preparation for their next busy day, you're struggling to stay awake. That alone can cause even more stress.
Talk to a Doctor
Take your symptoms seriously, and talk with your family doctor to determine if you just need more rest or if an underlying health condition is causing your fatigue. If you're open to online options, consider visiting an online physician. Virtual appointments offer a number of advantages over in-person visits, including convenience, affordability, and flexibility. It’ll also be considerably easier to fill and refill prescriptions.
Treat Your Fatigue
Delegate tasks. You can take steps to make your daily life easier, such as hiring someone to help you with chores or finding respite care for your child. Delegating allows you more time for rest and sleep. If finances are tight, look into local charity organizations for help. Consider trying an app, such as TaskRabbit, for local help with chores and errands.
Create a Self-Care Treatment Plan
As a parent and caregiver of a child with a disability, take time for self-care. Creating a plan may be more effective than simply telling yourself it’s important. Compile a list of your biggest stressors, and brainstorm ways to alleviate them. Come up with at least five or 10 things you can do daily or weekly that can help you reduce your stress levels. Some self-care ideas include:
● Going for a walk
● Taking a hot bath.
● Listening to calm music.
● Having lunch out.
● Getting a massage.
● Drinking herbal teas.
Return to School
One way to ease exhaustion is to pursue personal goals — an educational path, a new hobby, or starting a business, for example. Starting something new and working toward achieving lifetime goals can be inspiring and relieve stress.
Many people choose to go back to school to improve their career prospects or to learn more about a field that interests them whether they’re earning a degree in business or teaching. When looking at the options, online learning is more convenient and typically more affordable than in-person learning, and since these programs are flexible, you’ll still have time to care for your child.
Find a Job
It may sound crazy, but finding a job that is outside of your home can actually alleviate some of your stress. Taking some time away from the house can allow you to develop relationships and express sides of yourself that you don’t need at home, which can leave you feeling more refreshed and ready to enjoy your family more fully. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, your resume likely needs a refresh. If you haven't tried a resume generator, check one out. There are plenty of templates to choose from. You simply need to plug in your information and get ready to apply.
When you're tired and worn out, take time for yourself. Remember, this too shall pass. Talk to a doctor, prioritize self-care, and tackle new personal goals like going back to school or starting a new job. A bit of focus on your own needs today can leave you refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges tomorrow.
If your child shows an interest in STEM activities, check out UPMI Steam. We offer learning activities to help every child pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math.