I’ve been listening to loads of Podcasts lately whilst running and walking my dog and a common thread which resonates so much with me is that of Parental Burnout. One Podcast I listened to said this Burnout is at epidemic levels. I can personally relate to this so much and I speak to many, many fellow SN parents who are also at the point of Burnout. I have so much I want to do with my mind, for me, work, my family and my own interests but often my body just isn’t physically able to let me do it. I have the most free time in the evening once the children have gone to bed but it’s when I’m at my most tired. I’m sure you often feel the same.
I have become much better at managing this on a continuous basis because the times when I wasn’t (for which there have been many) once I reached the tipping point, I couldn’t get the balance back. It takes focus and practice. As parents, especially as parents of children with additional needs, we have so much on our plate. There is more of us being given out than there is coming in. You can’t walk away and you can’t sustain living at the level of Burnout indefinitely. When your child has additional needs/disabilities it is common, as will be the case for us, to be the parent and carer for the child’s whole life. I used to think that I’d have children, they would grow and go to college or Uni or go travelling and then have a life of their own. Once they were independent, we would do so much with our lives again. I am always determined not to allow disability to define us or stifle us in what we want to do with our lives but I am also realistic that what I had envisioned, will likely not be our reality. Balance is therefore essential for this long-term role I find myself in.
The ways that I have worked at getting a balance back, to allow me to re-charge both physically and mentally are varied. Running has been a huge change for me this year and has made a big overall impact. It gives me time away to have silence or listen to a Podcast, Audiobook or music that isn’t Peppa Pig. It has taken me until this year to realise that the times when I cope the least well are when I have no time for me during the day. You know the kind when you can’t even go for a wee on your own. The past three summer holidays in particular, after having Jago, have been crazy busy and I was genuinely on my knees by the end of them. I decided to take charge of the situation this year. The fabulous Grandmas are helping us out hugely again and I have even got the odd totally child free day to re-charge. With Ollie’s work schedule so manic during the summer, I also took the decision to pay for the occasional days respite. Last week the lovely Emily came and although this time I didn’t leave the children in her care, she helped me take them to the Cinema. Something I just couldn’t do alone. Freddie needs constant attention during the film and that coupled with the number of times Jago required a wee break, none of us would have seen any of the film. Bella got to see the whole thing through. She loves films just like me and Ollie. It was like having two of me but with one they all actually listen to. Hurrah. I also got to walk the dog and do half an hours work whilst she was with us. The best bit is that they all love her and Freddie trusts her. After she had gone, Freddie said “It was nice Emily come to our house. I love that.” For so many of us, it is such a challenge to find someone who is unflappable, especially with your child’s additional needs and someone who is trustworthy, kind, trained and ‘happy’ to do personal care. I’m incredibly grateful.
The SEN Tribe Challenge
My challenge to you is, I want you to list five things you do to keep the balance for you. Plus, two extra things you want to be doing for you, which you will work on weaving into your life over the next six months.
If you are at total burnout stage and are genuinely not doing anything for you, I get that, I’ve totally been there and for quite some time too. In this case, I want you to list three things you want for you, time to read, physical exercise, time out with friends, date night, taking up a new hobby. You could get stuck in to some adult colouring therapy. I saw these ones which cracked me up. Calm The F*ck Down, A Sweary Adult Colouring Book or A Swear Word Colouring Book For Adults. You might want to start watching a new box set or go to the cinema regularly, getting physical help in the home or talking more to parental peers for support, whatever it is. Write down three things you are going to work on making a part of your life over the next 12 moths.
That might sound like a really long time but I had a list of ten things to improve my life, balance and way of coping and it took me five years to finally tick off the last one. Physical Exercise. I only started running this year. It takes time and you need brain space to make it happen and it’s a continuous practice but you can absolutely make it happen with a little determination and the help of a good diary to schedule things in.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this thread with your lists. It helps to share and give each other ideas for things we can do.
Good Luck. xx
SWAN UK Blogger
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