If you are a parent, you already understand what mental exhaustion feels like. No matter how much you love your child, the demands for attention, the extracurricular activities, and the meal planning may make you feel stuck in a cycle that never ends. In contrast to simple tiredness, the mental state of fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic, cannot be fixed with extra rest.
If you are the parent of a child with special needs, additional parenting considerations may make you feel doubly fatigued. This guide from Unique to You Nutrition offers a diagnostic framework for parents who wish to develop self-care measures and a personal treatment plan for dealing with their own levels of parental fatigue.
1. Assess Your Fatigue Level
If you plan on self-treating your parental fatigue, first you must assess exactly how exhausted you are. Ask yourself the following questions (and have your partner do the same) when measuring your level of fatigue:
- How would you rate your parenting satisfaction on a scale of one to 10?
- How would you rate your child’s behavioral (or medical) issues on a scale of one to 10?
- How often do you care for your child or another family member instead of caring for yourself?
- How is your marriage?
- How is your sleep — and are your child’s sleep issues causing problems for you?
2. Develop a Plan for Self-Care
After taking stock of your current life and identifying the factors that may be contributing to your parental fatigue, it’s time to think about how to improve your situation. First-line treatment measures should be scheduling time without your child. Work with your partner to come up with a schedule that gives you both downtime. Think about changing your home environment, such as creating a home office, adding houseplants, or getting rid of unnecessary clutter to make the space more functional as well.
If you feel that your marriage is suffering because of your devotion to your child’s needs, try spending more time together outside of your parental duties. Consider working with a counselor if you need help.
3. Watch Out for Unwanted Self-Care Outcomes
Though self-care is a crucial part of overcoming parental fatigue, watch for rough spots that don’t get better. If you blame your fatigue solely on your child’s needs, you may overlook untreated anxiety, depression, or another mood disorder that leaves you feeling miserable and fatigued regardless of how much self-care time you get.
4. Consider Your Personal Goals
It’s crucial to develop a self-care plan that is tailored to you and leaves room for your own ambitions. For example, if you want to start a small business, you could start by simply forming a limited liability company online to save time and separate your personal life from your new business. Be sure to check with your state’s regulations surrounding forming LLCs to ensure that you file correctly.
Alternatively, if you just want to change jobs but you’re not exactly bursting with confidence, a resume template might help to give you an edge over the competition by professionally highlighting your skills. Likewise, if you have a personal or professional goal to go back to school online and get a bachelor’s or master’s degree, this shouldn’t be considered more work that would add to your fatigue. Perhaps you find school exciting, or maybe you enjoy thinking about the future after your degree. If you choose an online degree, ensure that you research accredited schools.
Burnout and fatigue are very real issues for parents of a special needs child. It’s essential to take care of your own needs and personal goals so that you do not devote all your time to your child’s health and happiness and end up overlooking your own life in the process.
Unique to You Nutrition is a Maryland nutrition and personal trainer company. Offering food sensitivity testing, meal planning, and nutrition counseling. Let us help you learn how to lose weight and keep it off. We’d love to hear from you!
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