Parents who dedicate most of their time and energy to meeting their child’s special needs often neglect their own needs, resulting in parental fatigue and related health issues. While it may seem selfish to turn your attention to yourself, engaging in self-care practices allows you to focus on your health so that you can be there for your child. The following guide from Every Body Deserves Love shares some self-care tips that all parents need to consider.
Identifying Fatigue Levels and Root Causes
Before you can develop a self-care plan, evaluate your fatigue levels and identify contributing factors. Use the following questions to assess your parental fatigue:
- What is your parenting effectiveness?
- Where is your marital satisfaction?
- How time-consuming is your caregiving burden?
- How are your child’s behavioural issues?
Studies suggest that parenting a child with special needs has the potential to negatively impact a marital relationship. It can be stressful for parents to handle their children’s intense emotions and behaviours among other demands. The unrelenting nature of these stressors increases the risk of conflict between married couples.
Marital satisfaction can also be affected by the division of childcare responsibilities and the amount of time each parent spends meeting these obligations. When one parent assumes a disproportionate share of the caregiving burden, this can lead to feelings of loneliness, despair and resentment. This dynamic can disrupt the family’s functioning and each individual’s well-being.
Managing Stress Through Self-Care
Since your stress levels affect not only you but your entire family, self-care is a remedy that will benefit all of you. Here are some self-care tips that will help you battle burnout and keep your family going strong:
- Carve Out Time for Yourself
Scheduling time for yourself is more manageable than you may think and most certainly worth it. You can block out a dedicated time or infuse short breaks throughout the day. Spend this time on calming, restorative activities such as journaling, guided meditation or gentle stretching. These exercises will allow you to regain clarity and relieve stress.
- Take up a Reading Habit
Reading for pleasure and relaxation offers several benefits. It’s a great way to calm oneself down during moments of stress, and it also improves your sleep quality. It’s even something you can share with your child!
- Start a Business
Dust off your dream board; it’s time to start focusing on something that ignites a fire in you! Revive an old hobby or take up one that interests you. You can even turn your passion into profit by starting your own business. You’ll need to decide on a business structure for your side hustle, though. LLCs are popular because of the legal protections and tax benefits, but make sure you look up the regulations for your area. Or better yet, work with an online formation service that’s already familiar with forming a California LLC and can get you started in minutes.
Avoiding Unintended Outcomes of a Self-Care Plan
Be mindful that unwanted consequences could occur as you follow your self-care plan. Your partner may be unsupportive or try to guilt you for taking time for yourself. Conversely, you may inadvertently overburden your partner if you become entrenched in a self-care habit. Set clear expectations with your partner and keep the lines of communication open.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. When parental fatigue is too much to bear, lean on your partner, reach out to your social supports and take a timeout to care for your own needs whether you’re prioritising self-care or even earning a degree. It’s not selfish; it’s self-love.
Every Body Deserves Love believes that through the process of body acceptance and loving yourself unconditionally, we open the doors to a healthy mind and body. If you have any questions or you’d like to volunteer, we’d love to hear from you!