Caring for a child with special needs can be difficult. Many parents in this situation find it hard to balance their own needs with those of their children. However, it is important to find this balance. If you don’t care for yourself as well as your child, you will become overly fatigued and spread yourself too thin, making it more difficult to care for anyone. Learning to master this balancing act is a must-do for any parent caring for a child with special needs, so here are some tips and resources from ADAutism to help.
Learn to Evaluate You Fatigue Levels and Negative Emotions
Self-evaluation is the starting point for an effective self-care strategy. You need to be able to determine your fatigue levels and identify other challenges, such as negative emotions. The following are a few questions you can ask yourself to start your evaluation:
- How is your sleep quality?
- How would you rate your parenting satisfaction?
- How are your depressive and anxiety symptoms?
- What is your level of physical activity?
While fatigue is not uncommon among adults, according to the Cleveland Clinic, it becomes a problem when it excessively impacts your life or causes you to be unsafe (such as feeling drowsy while driving). Fatigue can be caused by poor sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise and more. Better self-care starts with self-assessment. Once you know there is an issue, you can take steps to make improvements.
Create a Self-Care Plan
After assessing your fatigue and negative emotions, it is time to create a self-care plan. This should include both a daily routine for general well-being and some strategies for dealing with particularly difficult days. Practicing good sleep hygiene is one of the best ways to ensure that you have full energy.
Additionally, general good health practices, such as eating breakfast, maintaining a good diet, keeping an organized home, and exercising daily can help create an environment where de-stressing is possible. Adding a few plants will also allow you to enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of nature even when you can’t make it outside. You should also have a plan for giving yourself a break. This may be asking a family member to babysit every so often so that you can unwind or finding a little time to sit and read or engage in a hobby.
Self-care should be a part of every adult’s life, even those whose families really need them. However, it is also important to know when something extra is needed. Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children points out that self-care cannot be used as the sole treatment for clinical anxiety or depression. Similarly, it should not become an excessive burden on your support network (although it is a good thing to ask for help). Thus, finding balance is important and seeking professional help may be necessary.
Remember to Invest in Your Personal Goals
Finally, don’t forget to live your life for yourself (at least to a reasonable degree). Just because you have a child who needs you doesn’t mean that you should completely forget your personal goals.
For example, you may want to start a business. You could take your first steps by forming a limited liability company (LLC) to get tax and liability benefits for your new company. Just make sure to check your state’s rules. Then, you’ll want to develop a business plan to ensure everything is well thought out. Many entrepreneurs choose to have a formation service set up their business up as, for example, an LLC. If that is what you are looking into, be sure to first check the best LLC services online to ensure you outsource this task based on affordability and the types of service they provide, such as ongoing support.
Or you may want to pursue a degree online to master a new skill set. Online education can often be relatively self-paced and could help you lay the foundation for a new career.
Get Started Finding the Ideal Balance for Your Family
If you have a child with special needs, it can be hard to find the right balance between self-care and caring for your family. Do your best to create a low stress environment in your home, and never forget to set time aside for yourself, whether it’s enjoying a hobby, starting a business, or practicing yoga. Although there will be challenges, you can now take your first steps toward finding that balance.
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