Parent Burn Out / Well Being
The experience of having a child with special needs intensifies the challenges of parenthood. (Parents wellbeing)
In addition to typical parental stressors, other forms of pressure unique to their child’s care are involved. For example, multiple medical and rehabilitation appointments, behavioural concerns, financial difficulties, accessibility issues, etc. Eating, taking them to school or day programs, going to multiple appointments (PT, OT, speech therapy, doctors, etc.), attending recreational activities and volunteering- It can become TOO MUCH!
Respite prevents burnout and allows families to maintain regular schedules. Once a child is born, this child becomes the parents’ whole life. All their energy and attention is focused on giving them the best life possible that the parents forget to self-care. But the benefits of respite are numerous; stress reduction is a main one! Respite increases the capacity to handle day to day life and ultimately has a positive emotional impact. Reality is, life can become overwhelming at times, especially in the case of single parents or parents with multiple children. On top of all of that, society adds additional stressors given all the unrealistic expectations placed on parents. Parents are expected to be superheroes, essentially to be on top of everything; to care for their children, provide all the necessities of life and more for them, ensure they are educated, polite, happy, safe, smell nice, and have a secure and successful future. Fact is, parents need some time for themselves. They need an outlet to de-stress and pay some attention to their own wellbeing.
How to Avoid Burnout
We can be right on the edge of a burnout and come back from it, but in order to do so we have to recognize it first. No one can avoid a problem, if they don’t even recognize it as a problem in the first place. You need to set into place some safety nets, so that when you are about to burnout someone else can pick up the slack.
The first step to avoiding burnout is setting up a support system. For some people it is their family, their parents, their partner, their neighbors, anyone. For others it is a parents group for children with ASD. And for others it is their therapists and doctors. The main point, is that when you are about to crash, you need someone else who can help out. You can’t settle a tantrum, do the laundry, and make dinner all at one time- no matter how good of a multitasker you are. You need someone to help around the house, or maybe someone to help with your child’s social skills, or someone to help with school work. Form a network of people you trust with your child who you know want what is best for them, and it can help relieve a lot of stress. Establishing a support system is essential for the success of your parenting journey. It can take a while to find the right people, and sometimes it is a trial and error process, but once you have one set up, it is a big weight off of your shoulders.
The second step to avoid burnout, is to do stuff for yourself. Take a night off, take a long bath, go for a walk, read a book, go to park, take up a hobby. Anything that makes you feel like your own person again is something that is worth pursuing. What did you used to do before having a child? What is something that you would enjoy doing now? Find your identity outside of being a parent, and really pursue it. You need to have balance in your life in order to be able to handle tough situations. You need an outlet for your frustration and emotions. Some people have found exercise to be a great outlet and others have found mindfulness to be helpful. Whatever it is that makes you happy- do it.