Assessing fatigue and developing a self-care treatment plan helps parents of children with special abilities and special needs deal with the stressors involved with caregiving. Below, Be Bold Psychology and Consulting presents some things parents need to know.
Working on Fatigue Levels
Caregivers and parents of children with special abilities and special needs often feel emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. Parents should consider the following when working on fatigue and burnout levels:
- Level of physical activity: Parents of children with special abilities and special needs may feel too exhausted to exercise, but studies have shown that exercise helps decrease anxiety
- Time consumption: Caregiving can be extremely time consuming, but caregivers must take time for themselves for their own well-being
- Marital satisfaction: Studies show that having a solid support system helps parents of children with special abilities and special needs with the added stressors that come with caregiving
Adverse Outcomes of Self-Care Plans
Self-care plans aren’t perfect, and sometimes changes are needed. Here are a few things to be aware of:
- Over-treating anxiety or depression. Find a healthy balance when treating mental health conditions, including seeing your doctor and taking all medication as prescribed
- Setting impossible goals. Set SMART goals, those that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, to avoid the stress of being unable to meet your goals. Working with a clinician who is trained at setting goals in a collaborative fashion can greatly assist in this task.
- Having unhealthy boundaries. You may be excited to have added another member to your support system, but make sure you set reasonable boundaries, including learning to say no, so you don’t become even more overwhelmed or burned out.
Small home environment changes can benefit children with special abilities and special needs and help promote wellness for the entire family. Oversized bean bag chairs and pillows provide a safe, quiet place for children to destress. In addition, painting walls with cool colors like green and blue can be soothing.
Personal Goals and Self-Care
But when can we get our own needs met, and what might some goals be? For some parents, there may be opportunities to engage in self-care and goal-setting while their child is napping or attending school. Some goals that you might have may include:
Starting a Business
Starting a small business can be therapeutic. In addition, there are tax advantages involved in owning a small business. Forming a limited liability company (LLC) provides you with personal liability protection, and you may be eligible for the income tax deductions associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, there will be less paperwork involved in running your business and you’ll enjoy the flexibility that comes with being self-employed.
Going Back to School
It’s easier than ever to obtain a bachelor’s or graduate degree online from an accredited institution. In addition, going back to school using online courses will allow you to work at your own pace. This will enable you to develop a work schedule that fits your family life.
The Importance of Parental Self-Care
A search of the internet provides numerous self-care ideas. While it’s important to practice self-care, not every self-care option works for every family. You’ll discover what works by trial and error. In addition, joining groups, such as the Caregiver Fatigue Therapeutic Support Groups offered by Be BOLD Psychology and Consulting, can help you to potentially meet other parents of children with special abilities and special needs and/or other caregivers. Listening to others share their challenges as well as what has worked for them, will give you an additional support system and even more ideas.