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4 Ways to Care for Yourself While Caring for a Special Needs Child

Story by Charlene Roth

Though of course you love your children, caring for one or more kids with special needs takes a toll on you as a parent. The constant care of others minimizes the amount of time spends you can spend on your own needs, which can lead to parental fatigue. Today, House of Otem shares four great ways you can start caring for yourself as you continue meeting the needs of your family.

Assess Your Level of Fatigue

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that between 2 and 12% of parents are experiencing burnout. Put simply, burnout is the mental and physical repercussions of accumulated stress in any area of life. So, if you are feeling especially physically or mentally exhausted from the pressure of constantly caring for your child with special needs, this may be a form of burnout. When evaluating your own fatigue level, ask yourself the following questions:

• How is your sleep quality?

• Do you have symptoms of depression or anxiety?

• How has your support system been?

Care for Your Physical Well-Being

When people are under stress for prolonged periods of time, chances are it will take a physical toll on their bodies. One smart action to promote your own health is scheduling an annual checkup with your primary care physician. Have your bloodwork reviewed for any stress-related concerns, such high blood pressure.

Once your medical needs are met, start incorporating changes into daily life to care for your physical well-being. Healthline suggests making healthy dinners by meal-prepping on the weekends and include regular exercise in your daily routine. If you are new to exercise, start slowly with daily walks or short low-impact workout videos that you can complete at your own pace. In fact, you can even work out using things you already have around your home; for example, try chair dips with furniture and use your kitchen countertops to help you do push-ups.

You can also get in your steady exercise by jogging. And if you have a dog, you might as well take them with you! They’ll enjoy the fresh air and exercise, and you’ll benefit from the company. Quick tip, though: invest in an escape-proof harness so that you can keep a close eye on your newfound workout buddy!

If jogging isn't your thing, that’s fine. Walking is a great alternative to jogging that still provides many health benefits. In fact, walking is a low-impact exercise that can be easier on your joints and just as effective at improving cardiovascular health. To make sure you're getting the most out of your walks, consider consulting a walk score map. This tool can help you find the most walkable routes in your area, taking into account factors like distance, safety, and nearby amenities. By finding enjoyable and convenient walking routes, you'll be more likely to stick with this healthy habit over time.

Pursue a Lifelong Goal

Many parents push aside their personal goals to prioritize the care of their families. Why not get started on fulfilling one of your dreams now? If your hope is to launch your own business, it’s easy to launch a drop shipping or ecommerce business. These are perfect for parents who don’t work full-time and want to generate extra income. And they provide the perfect opportunity for feeling out entrepreneurship.

If you do start a company, consider forming a limited liability company to take advantage of tax benefits, reduced personal liability, decreased paperwork and flexibility. Each state has its own regulations for the formation of an LLC, so be sure to check how to start an LLC in Maryland before starting the process. An online formation service can help you register quickly and easily.

Something else to bear in mind: if you establish an LLC, you’ll also want to designate a Registered Agent to serve as your business’s point person in all government and legal matters. It’s worth taking a moment to look over these Registered Agent requirements and make sure you have all your bases covered.

Of course, maybe it’s not a business you want. If you have always yearned for advanced accreditation via professional development courses, it’s totally doable to achieve this goal at your own pace completely online. Continuing education can help you lay a strong foundation for your career, so completing such coursework could take you to the next level you have been striving to attain.

Prepare for Unintended Consequences of Increasing Self-Care

While it is important to prioritize yourself, there are sometimes unintended consequences associated with taking more time for you. These can include overburdening your support network or under-treating your own psychological conditions. As you embark upon a journey to work on your own well-being, remember to seek balance between your responsibility to others and yourself. Communicate with your support network to ensure your self-care is not throwing your partner or extended family into burnout mode.

The care of any child is immensely challenging, but factoring in physical or mental limitations can multiply the difficulties. Remember that self-care is not selfish but is actually essential for you to provide quality care for your child.

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