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Bone Weary: Choosing Self-Care When You’re the Fatigued Parent of a Special Needs Child


It’s a well-documented fact, as ResearchGate can confirm: parents of special needs children are prone to fatigue. All parents have to go above and beyond for their kids sometimes – but parents of special needs children have to go the extra mile as a matter of course. The care these parents provide for their children can be extensive and exhaustive, often going beyond their formative years and extending into adulthood.

Unfortunately, as a consequence, the parents’ own health and wellbeing often fall by the wayside. This is as applicable to dads as it is to moms. Many fathers have trouble understanding their child’s needs and often report feelings of stress, fear, and loneliness.

If you’re a dad (or mom) struggling with fatigue, don’t ignore it. It’s a cry for help from your body and mind. You need to take better care of yourself. Not only do you deserve it, but it’s also essential – it’s only when you’re in good shape can you provide for the people around you, including your child.

The Dad Hoodie is a comfortable, feel-good parenting accessory with multiple practical features. It makes it easier to take care of your child at home or outside. Here, we give you some tips on how you could mitigate and potentially eliminate parental fatigue with a self-care plan here: 

Assess your level of fatigue

First, it’s a good idea to gauge your level of fatigue. When you understand you’re at, you’ll know the kind of self-care (or other help) you need to overcome the issue: 

  • Depressive or anxiety-related symptoms: Do you often feel sad, lost, or hopeless? Do you have a poor appetite or think about death and suicide?
  • Your sleep quality: Sleep is supposed to be energizing and invigorating. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you feel tired even after sleeping for a long time?
  • Your level of physical activity: People with fatigue can be listless and slow. They may have difficulty participating in social activities, and daily life can seem like a chore.
  • Your parental effectiveness and satisfaction: Are you happy with how you’re doing as a parent? Do you feel you’re falling short?

Feeling fatigued is different from being tired, reports Self. Fatigue is constant and doesn’t go away even after you rest.

Manage, mitigate, and eliminate with a self-care plan

You can tackle fatigue with a good self-care plan. The goal is to manage fatigue so it doesn’t stop you from looking after your child (and other responsibilities):

  1. Address your specific stressors

Every fatigued parent has unique stressors – circumstances or situations that cause you fatigue. For instance, lack of time, huge workloads, money issues, and personal health problems. Try to figure out solutions, such as delegating, a better (minimalistic) lifestyle, and asking for help. 

  1. Create a self-care plan

Self-care involves looking after not only your physical well-being but also your mental and emotional health. It involves eating healthy, sleeping well, exercising a few hours a week, listening to music, following de-stressing activities, and generally looking after your needs.

  1. Have a life of your own and pursue your own goals

You likely make many sacrifices for your child. But you need a life of your own, and your own goals to follow, to feel fulfilled and happy. That includes having a career you can be happy about. If your current career is too demanding, unrewarding, or stressful, don’t be afraid to make a change. Learn something new, find a new hobby, or even find a new job.

Finding a better, more fulfilling job is easier than you think. People are always looking for good, reliable people. Focus on making a good impression. A stellar, professional-looking resume can help in this regard. You can use this free resume builder to make one conveniently. Choose from a library of professionally-designed resumes and add your own copy, photos, images, and colors.

Self-care is not a cure-all

Keep in mind that a self-care plan isn’t a miracle solution. It will take time to implement and for you to see results. Also, sometimes it may misfire or not go the way you want it to. You may undertreat your problems, overburden your partner or social support, or “over-treat” and end up shooting yourself in the foot. Sometimes it’s a good idea to seek medical help and support (think counseling, therapy, or medication) to overcome serious fatigue. 

Seek social support

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Too many parents these days think they have to do it alone – you don’t. Help is available from the government, private groups, and your family and friends. It can be difficult to seek and accept help but don’t hesitate to do it. It can and will drastically ease your burden.

Conclusion  

You’re not alone in this journey – there are many other dads (or moms) like you out there who are fighting the same fight. Many got better, dealt with their fatigue, and came out stronger – and so can you. Don’t give up, be inspired by their example, and look after yourself. The rest will fall into place.  

Image via Unsplash