Help Overcoming Fatigue When Raising a Special Needs Child
Fatigue. It’s not tired like a thing you can get a good night’s sleep to recover from—it’s a state of being. Despite being exhausted, you can’t sleep. Parents of children with special needs know this all too well. This is especially true of parents raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorder since the child’s sleep, behavior, and metabolic disorders are not something they can recover from after a nap. The need of these parents to find ways to cope with, manage, and recover from the relentless fatigue is as important as the care they give to their child.
Though feelings of guilt and even neglect enter our minds when we take care of our needs while putting our child’s own second can produce anxiety. But remember, like the flight attendant tells us in the pre-flight instructions, put your own oxygen mask on before placing one on your child. The same applies to parental self-care. So let’s put our oxygen masks on now.
Tinley Park Mom, Stephanie, helps parents to feel at home and settled when they move to their new neighborhood. And on her site, she even includes great recipes and reviews of family films. Here she shares some ideas on ways to overcome fatigue for parents raising a special needs child.
Getting Away From It All
Sometimes the best way to fight fatigue is to get away from it all. Though one of the keys to parenting children with autism is routine, it’s possible to improvise a new “traveling routine,” so your child will know what to expect and keep surprises to a minimum.
Outdoor places like parks and beaches can be ideal, but so can semi-outdoor spots, like a baseball stadium. If you’re in the Los Angeles area you can get in a bit of all three. Beaches, state parks, and the L.A Dodgers at their stadium in Elysian Park. It’s best to get tickets online ahead of time, not only because you’ll get them at a discounted rate, but you can have a 360-view of the facility so you’ll be able to choose the seats that will work best for your family. A lot of sun, a beach full of sand, and a little bit of America’s Pastime can be great ways to overcome your fatigue.
Invest in Yourself
Some of the fatigue many parents live with comes from the inner monologue they tell themselves that all their effort should go toward their child’s needs. Finding something that’s as far away from what others expect of you or what you expect from yourself can quiet that voice that tells you that your needs aren’t important. Spending time on a hobby, developing a second language, or going back to school to earn a degree are all productive uses of your time that can remind you that you have more to offer than childcare.
And it doesn’t have to be an either-or activity. Earning a degree is something you can do online and work around your other commitments. A degree in a highly paid field like Computer Sciences can end up giving you a far greater income too. This will, of course, benefit not just you but your family. An education is always the wisest investment. It can also allow you to have your own home-based business. And if starting your own business seems scary, remember that forming it as an LLC protects your personal assets from your business ones, which makes for one less worry.
Day to Day
Some small things you can do every day could be scheduling some time just to sit outside, tend to some flowers, and read at least one chapter from a book each day. Listen to music without doing anything else at the same time. Find some yoga stretches to do every morning and evening or just sit in the tub and think about all the things in your life that are good. Learn to meditate.
And remember to reach out for help. It may be the hardest task on this list, and it could take all your courage to do it, but in the end, taking that outstretched hand can be the best thing you can do for yourself.
Check out guest blogger Gwen Payne’ popular blog The Invisible Moms Club, which helps parents of special needs children and brings awareness to the general public about the struggles they experience.