Updated: Nov 20
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Exhaustion is a common symptom of being a new parent. But most parents’ children reach independence eventually, making it easier for the parents to get adequate rest. When your child has special needs, your caretaking duties continue as your child grows. That’s why so many special needs parents live with chronic fatigue.
The good news is that you don’t have to accept your fatigue as a fact of life. You can start taking steps today to combat your exhaustion and promote your overall health and well-being. Below, ADHD Nerd Dad shares practical advice for gauging and addressing your parental fatigue.
Understand the Severity of Your Fatigue
The first step is to acknowledge your fatigue for what it is. Yes, you know you’re exhausted. But precisely how tired are you? You can assess your fatigue levels to determine how to create an effective self-care treatment plan.
There are several factors to consider when identifying your fatigue level. For example, would you consider your parenting satisfaction to be high, low, or somewhere between? Many exhausted parents rarely enjoy the little moments with their children and can’t wait until bedtime.
Also, are you suffering from excessive stress, anxiety, or depression? Healthline notes that fatigue tends to exacerbate mental health conditions and can even cause physical and emotional health concerns.
Poor sleep quality is another indicator of high fatigue levels. Many parents go to bed exhausted only to find they can't get adequate rest. If you suffer from insomnia, you probably live with chronic fatigue. Here are some other signs of caregiver burnout:
Joint or muscle pain
Apathy towards activities you typically enjoy
Feelings of anger or "parental guilt"
Rapid heart rate
Establish Personal Goals
One of the best ways to jumpstart your self-care treatment plan is to set personal goals you can regularly monitor. The Corporate Finance Institute points out that your goals should follow the “SMART” system, meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Whether you hope to change your career, start exercising, adopt a new diet, or embrace other healthy activities, be sure to establish challenging goals you can achieve.
For example, maybe you want to return to school to further your education and improve your career prospects. Today, you can earn a bachelor’s or master's degree without leaving your house. Online universities offer flexible programs that allow students to study at their own pace while balancing work, family, and other responsibilities.
Other personal goals to consider include:
Rekindling a childhood hobby
Learning a new language
Learning a musical instrument
Expanding your cooking skills
Committing more time to meaningful relationships
One personal goal you may want to consider is starting a business. Many people dream of starting their own business, but few ever take the leap. Of course, it takes a lot of hard work to get a new business off the ground, and many people simply don’t have the time or energy to make it happen. Fortunately, there are ways to make it a little easier, from using online resources and formation services. For example, you can look up ZEN Washington LLC information to help you understand the paperwork that’s required. Then, you can work with a formation service to get things filed. For those who are willing to put in the effort, starting a business can be an immensely rewarding experience. Not only does it provide the opportunity to be your own boss, but it also offers the chance to create something that is truly your own.
Create a Healthy Routine
Improving your physical, mental, and emotional health may seem like a daunting venture. But the truth is you can do it in baby steps and significantly reduce your fatigue in the process. Start simple and build slowly. Eat a nutritious lunch, establish a firm bedtime, and find 20-minute workouts that you can do three times a week.
While you're at it, carve out 30 minutes a week to spend with a loved one and find a relaxing activity unrelated to work to do each day. Be mindful of your overall health, and you’ll naturally make healthier decisions.
Be Mindful of the Risks
Lastly, understand that you could face negative outcomes as you live out your self-care treatment plan. Be mindful not to focus so much on yourself that you compromise your responsibilities to others. And try not to ignore symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that can worsen over time.
Being a special needs parent requires a lot from you. But identifying your fatigue levels and creating a self-care plan will help you prevent caregiver burnout and cherish more of the meaningful moments with your little one. Follow the tips above to get started, and never stop seeking solutions for living a healthy, fulfilled life as a special-needs parent.
For more great articles like this, be sure to visit the ADHD Nerd Dad blog.
Article By: Gwen Payne of http://invisiblemoms.com