How to Handle Parental Fatigue: A Guide for Parents of Special Needs Kids

Parenthood can bring a lot of joy into your life. However, it can also be stressful, especially if you’re the parent of a special needs child. Recognizing the signs of parental fatigue and knowing how to handle it can help you avoid burnout. It’s also helpful to tap into resources that special needs kids can utilize to succeed, while also minimizing the caregiver burden on yourself. This guide provides tips and tools for reducing parental fatigue if you have a special needs child.

Understand parental fatigue and its consequences

Parental burnout can have many negative consequences for adults and kids alike. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout can contribute to issues like sleep disruption, anxiety, and irritability. It can also leave parents ambivalent, neglectful, or even violent towards their children. The key to avoiding these worst-case scenarios is identifying the signs of fatigue and potential burnout early on.


Recognize the signs of parental fatigue

Parenting can be tiring. Being able to distinguish between everyday tiredness and actual fatigue is important. There are a few questions to ask yourself to determine your risk for fatigue. First, consider your sleep quality. Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours per night, and ensure your bedroom is a calm, cool, and quiet environment for falling asleep. Second, assess your depression or anxiety symptoms, such as racing thoughts, feelings of restlessness, isolation, and irritability. Also, examine broader lifestyle habits. People who are failing to get sufficient physical activity or don’t have a strong social support system in their corner, for example, are often at greater risk.

avoiding parental fatigue

Create a self-care plan to conquer parental fatigue

One way to help combat parental fatigue is to devote more time to self-care. While this can be difficult if you have a special needs child who requires a lot of attention, it’s critical to your long-term health and happiness as a family. Every day, carve out at least 15 minutes of time to do something just for yourself. Examples of activities include drinking your favorite beverage, going for a walk, listening to music, or journaling.


Make time for your own goals

Pursuing your own goals is another way to practice self-care. For example, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, look into starting your own business. Alternatively, maybe you’ve been considering going back to school to pursue a certain degree – so start exploring options. Whatever it is, write down your goal and then sketch out a plan for how to achieve it. GoalMap explains how you can create SMART objectives that are realistic and attainable.


Be prepared for the risks of addressing parental fatigue

Addressing parental fatigue is important. However, it may come with unexpected negative repercussions. For example, you may find yourself feeling guilty as you devote more time to your own care and goals. To help yourself cope, seek out support. For example, there are support groups specifically for parents of special needs kids that can be useful. This list provides various online and in-person options.

parent fatigue

Know when it’s time to seek professional support

Sometimes, more intense one-on-one help is needed. In this case, don’t be afraid to seek mental health help. It’s now possible to access mental health services online, giving you greater flexibility than in-person commitments. When choosing between therapists online, you have a diversity of specialists to consider. Remote therapy also allows you to skip travel time. Plus, you can save some money, as many therapists offer free online or phone consultations.


Make sure your kids have the help they need too

You can help yourself and your child by expanding your support network. Special needs kids may need additional assistance with their schoolwork, for example. WorldWise Tutoring offers customized lesson plans from expert educators, helping students approach their schooling with confidence. They provide tutoring across a range of ages, subjects, and abilities – offering in-person, online, and group courses. Their services are personalized and holistic – making your job as a parent easier!


Being a parent is one of the greatest jobs you’ll ever have. However, it will also be one of the toughest. Trust the tips above to help you and your special needs child thrive.

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