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Cindy Dennis

Executive Director

How to Identify and Address Parental Fatigue When You Have a Special Needs Child

Parenting is exhausting. But when you have a special needs child, you might have even less energy than your friends who are also parents. You may spend more time caregiving and not connect on a meaningful level with those around you. It might be all you can do to fit a shower into your day.

If this sounds like you, you could be living with parental fatigue. And while you’re not alone in your struggle, you can’t continue to allow exhaustion to rule your life. Below, we’ll discuss how to determine your fatigue level and provide practical solutions to building a healthier life.

Gauge Your Fatigue Level

The first step to addressing your parental fatigue is to assess your fatigue level. Exhaustion can show itself in many different ways. For example, if you have been struggling with depressionor excessive anxiety, it can signify severe fatigue. Also, if you have found yourself unable to engage in physical activity or having to work to get out of bed in the morning, chances are you are dealing with chronic fatigue.

Another fatigue marker is your level of marital satisfaction. If you are more irritable and less receptive to your spouse than you were before becoming a parent, it likely means that you should take steps to get your fatigue under control. Likewise, a lack of social life and support can indicate that you need to find ways to increase your energy levels.

Try to find an exercise routine that you can fit into your everyday life. Spend a few minutes researching at-home workouts that you can do in 15 to 20 minutes. Along with boosting your energy, exercising can significantly improve your mental and emotional health.

Also, consider going to marriage counseling if you and your spouse are losing patience with one another. Working with a professional and seeking the Lord through scripture can turn things around. And even if you don’t feel like you have the energy for it, be intentional about reaching out to friends and relatives to get that much-needed social support.

Give Yourself Goals to Accomplish

It’s critical to set attainable goals for yourself when treating your fatigue. As you accomplish goals and reach milestones, your confidence will continue to build. For example, maybe you could return to school for a college degree. Today, you can easily find accredited online universities that allow you to complete your studies from home. You can boost your career prospects without compromising your other responsibilities if you go this route.

Another worthwhile goal is to improve your health. Try substituting one meal a day with a healthier alternative, such as trading your sandwich for a salad. Experiment with different bedtime routines until you find one that helps you unwind and get the restful sleep you need. And promise yourself to find a hobby that adds joy to your life.

Watch Out for Backfire

Finally, as you assess your fatigue levels and develop a treatment strategy, you may run into some unwanted outcomes. The key is to be aware of negative consequences to your self-care plan so that you can fix any mistakes along the way.

For example, be mindful that you are not focusing too much time and attention on yourself and neglecting your calling as a parent. Try not to overburden your support network. And be careful not to ignore the depression or anxiety symptoms and leave them untreated.

No matter how much you love your special needs child, it doesn’t change that your struggle is valid. Start evaluating your fatigue level today to come up with solutions. Don’t expect your journey to come without obstacles, but know that the only way to take back control of your health and well-being is to start making changes.

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