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Parents of special needs children have unique burdens, and those burdens are oftentimes all-encompassing. It’s very easy for such parents to lose themselves in caring for their kids, which can gradually have wide-ranging side effects or consequences.
Not only is it important for parents of special needs children to take care of themselves for their own sake, but it’s crucial so that their level of parental care remains high. With that in mind, let’s break down how parents of special needs children can assess their fatigue and create good self-care plans for long-term wellness. Visit The Online Review for parenting insights and more!
Assessing Parent Fatigue
It can be tough to know just how fatigued you are when you are swamped in a daily routine that demands taking care of one or more special needs children. You may be able to accurately assess your fatigue by considering the following questions:
● How’s your sleep quality?
● How are your depressive and anxiety symptoms?
● How’s your marital satisfaction, if applicable?
● How has your social support been?
By answering these questions, you may give yourself an idea of just how tired or supported you actually are. Once you come to a conclusion, read on.
Why Self-Care is Important
At its core, self-care is important for parents of special needs children because:
● Parents are people, too. Parents should enjoy a high quality of life even if they have special responsibilities
● When fatigued, parents’ care quality could suffer, leading to consequences for their kids
In other words, you need to take care of yourself and assess your fatigue levels regularly so you can continue to be a stellar parent to your child(ren).
How to Practice Self-Care
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can practice self-care as a parent of a special needs child.
Take Time to Relax
Most importantly, you need to take time to relax each day. Whether it’s just an hour reading a book or some time alone to handle chores you find soothing, time to relax and enjoy recreation is vital for your mental health and your energy levels.
A little bit of time relaxing or enjoying a recreational activity, like playing a game, can reinvigorate you and give you the energy to tackle your parental responsibilities with new life. If necessary, carve out time to relax by:
● Creating a strict daily schedule and sticking to it
● Getting someone to help you with your parental duties if you aren’t married
Pursue Personal Goals
Everyone needs to have personal goals they can strive for and succeed at, including parents for special needs children. Whether your personal goals involve finding love, starting a business, or switching your career, you owe it to yourself to pursue and fulfill those goals sooner rather than later.
Luckily, you always have options depending on what you want to pursue. For instance, if you want to get a new degree and switch your career, you can get that degree with flexible, affordable online degree programs. Completing an online degree is one of the best ways to lay a great foundation for your future career, plus maintain your other responsibilities simultaneously.
Spend Time Alone or With Your Partner
If you’re married or seeing someone, be sure to spend time alone with your partner each day or at least every week. Many married couples who parent one or more special needs children lose themselves in caring for their kids. The partnership falls apart and the connection is broken.
You can stop this from happening to you by:
● Going on the occasional romantic date to keep the spark alive
● Going on walks together
● Watching a movie together
● Simply lying in bed and speaking together
Crucially, don’t speak about your child or your responsibilities during this alone time. Parents have to have lives outside of their kids to remain mentally and emotionally stable and healthy.
What About Negative Consequences from Following a Self-Care Plan?
Some parents of special needs children worry about negative consequences or fallout, such as their parenting quality degrading or their children thinking less of them. In reality, there are consequences from not following a self-care plan, such as:
● Under-treating actual anxiety or depression
● Overcompensating for your partner
● Losing your romantic relationship
● Over-burdening support networks, like friends or family members
Ultimately, it’s more important and healthier to follow a self-care plan than it is not to. Do what’s right for yourself and your special needs child by regularly assessing your fatigue and following a self-care plan to the letter. You’ll live life more fully.