Always Tired? It Might Be Parental Fatigue
Caring for a special needs child is a full-time job. As a parent with a child on the autism spectrum, you already know this, and you likely feel the strain. Parental fatigue, or parental burnout, can leave you feeling drained and like a shell of your former self. But you can reclaim your energy and exuberance with these tips from CDAClass.org.
Autistic Behaviors That Wear Us Down
Children with autism may exhibit behaviors that can take a toll on us as parents. According to Autism Speaks, they may be hyperactive and more likely to injure both themselves and others. They may have trouble communicating, which can lead to frustration on both of your parts. Your child is unique, and you likely have challenges that others don’t, particularly if your ASD child also presents with a co-occurring condition, such as epilepsy or a developmental diagnosis. And all of this can leave you exasperated.
How Fatigued Am I Really?
You know that you’re tired, but to get a better idea of how the feelings of being worn out affect you daily, do a self-evaluation for parental fatigue. Ask yourself questions such as:
- How much time do I spend caring for my child directly? The average parent in America spends just two hours per day with their children. You likely spend three to five times this much directly caring for a child with autism, particularly if you’re a stay-at-home parent.
- Do I have social support? Social support is crucial, and failure to establish a network can make your burden seem that much heavier. If possible, join a group for parents of autistic children. At the very least, you have someone to talk to that understands.
- Am I getting enough sleep? Stress can make it much more difficult to sleep each night. But, without at least seven hours, you may be physically and emotionally exhausted more so than necessary. You may find that melatonin or other vitamins can help calm you down in the evening hours so that you are not lying awake all night.
- Is my home keeping me healthy? Your home should be a place where you can decompress and recharge, but that’s only possible if you optimize your home for wellness. That means engaging in healthy living, sure, but also doing everything you can to make your home a place that’s free of negativity and judgment.
Set Goals To Regain Our Sense Of Self
While your situation will be unique, there are a few ways that all of us can work toward eliminating her feelings of burnout and parental fatigue.
First, prioritize your health. Make a point to eat healthy foods and exercise. You also want to take time away from your children and family responsibilities to pursue a hobby, such as dancing, painting, or hiking.
And, as selfish as it might feel, now is an excellent time to pursue your own goals. This might mean going back to school, losing weight, or starting your own business. The latter of these can give you more time to spend with your child since you are not relying on someone else’s time clock. If you choose to register as an LLC, you may also find that you have some tax advantages and structural flexibility, along with asset protection. The easiest way to file your LLC is to use a formation service.
A Tightrope with Parent Fatigue
Caring for yourself and for a child on the autism spectrum is a tightrope that you have to walk. As Pfizer explains, it’s crucial to “fill your own cup,” which means that you have to take care of yourself. But, make sure that you do not focus all of your attention on just yourself and your child. You also have to make time for your other relationships, such as that with your spouse and friends. Not nurturing these can leave you feeling isolated, which can cause just as much stress as being overworked as a parent.
Don’t feel guilty about feeling overwhelmed and rundown with parental fatigue. All parents feel that way from time to time. As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you’ve been given a special gift of a child with a unique personality that you get to watch bloom. It is not always easy, but caring for a child with ASD is a blessing, even if it feels disguised at times.
This blog was created by Gwen Payne. Gwen is a stay-at-home mom with an entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years, she has mastered raising her two daughters while side hustling to success through small ventures based on her passions — from dog walking to writing to eCommerce. With Invisiblemoms.com she hopes to show other stay-at-home parents how they can achieve their business-owning dreams.
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