Why You Should Be Taking Better Care of Yourself as a Special Needs Parent
by Gwen Payne
Finding the time for self-care when most of your time, energy, and focus is caught up in taking care of your child with special needs can be challenging to do. Nonetheless, self-care is vitally important if you want to be the best and most attentive parent you can be. Here's how you can find that balance and avoid unnecessary stress, burnout, and parental fatigue.
This article provides a diagnostic framework for parents to use for determining their relative level of fatigue, as well as some ideas on treating their core fatigue causes.
The AutismDadvocate.org online forum is dedicated to supporting fathers of autistic children.
Assess the effectiveness of your current parenting strategies
Sometimes in life, it is easy to equate busyness in life with productivity. The same goes for parenting. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of providing and doing for our kids that we can lose sight of the fact that often our children just want us to be with them and be present in the moment. So, instead of just accepting that this is the norm (and this can apply even more so to parents taking care of a special needs child), instead, step back and evaluate whether this parenting strategy is actually working effectively for your child as well as for you.
Rating the quality of your sleep
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is so crucial to every aspect of our lives. Cutting back or depriving ourselves of a full night's rest can actually be more detrimental to our long-term health and happiness and can even influence the atmosphere or environment we create for our children, either positively or negatively.
The right social support group
For parents of children with disabilities, joining a support group is one of the best things you can do when learning to live with these types of life-changing situations. Moreover, you can get the help, support, and guidance you need to navigate challenging situations. So if you're not reaping the benefits of a support group, then perhaps you haven't found the right fit. In which case, you should endeavor to do so to assist you on your unique parenting journey. If you’re the father of an autistic child, you can visit AutismDadvocate.org for resources and support.
Looking forward to the future
Sometimes as parents of children with disabilities, what we actually need is to look forward to the future with renewed optimism and hope by carving out time in the day to do those things that fill us with joy. For some, this may be a hobby. For others, this might mean something entirely new and exciting, such as starting a business or earning a degree, for example.
Moreover, if one of your goals in life is to earn a college degree, you can pursue this dream by enrolling in an online program. Whether you’re learning about information technology, business, accounting, or nursing, online programs offer flexible learning opportunities so you can still tend to your child while you learn.
Too much of a good thing
Again, as with most things in life, it can become easy to lean too far in one direction than the other and get out of balance when it comes to seeking help. Or you could become overly reliant on the help of support groups, overlook the state of your mental health, or place too much emphasis on self-care to the detriment of other areas in your life. Finding the right balance, therefore, is vitally important to ensure that all areas of your life are in equilibrium.
You can do it all and more
In conclusion, being a parent of a special needs child is a privilege and requires a special kind of person to do the job. And actually, it's you that has been tasked with this awesome responsibility, so why not choose to shine as only you can, believing that with the proper self-care, you really can do it all and more.