Caregiving and burnout can be synonymous, but they do not have to be.
As I was leaving town to go to the beach on a glorious summer day, the familiar worry crept into my brain. I visited my elderly mom and forgot to refill her vitamins and colace.
Oh no..I am going to get the familiar call…I ran out of my vitamins. Ok.. Now ‘the voice’ chimes in.
What do I want to hear, I thought. “You can tell Mom where they are and if she does not take them for a day or two…no big deal. Relax and enjoy the weekend!”
It is amazing how I can calm myself when I allow myself to take control of my inner voice. After all, what are ‘guilt, worry and fear’ really? They are the messages we tell ourselves.
The burnout comes when we listen to messages that weigh heavily on us and make us feel that we are giving more that we have to offer.
In the process of caring for others, sometimes I worry so much about my loved ones that my physical and mental health is compromised.
I always need to find a way to balance my serving the needs of my family with my own energy level. That is step one.
When it comes to supporting and nurturing a special needs child, creating balance for myself is so very challenging. As a parent, I felt pulled by the want to protect my child and the knowledge that I needed to allow her to grow in her own way.
Now that she is a married adult with a new job that she is so proud of, I can reflect on what kind of parenting helped her get there.
Admittedly, in her younger years being much less knowledgeable about how to best manage my child, I was overprotective. Too often, when my daughter ran into roadblocks, I tried to remove them.
What I learned was that parents help their children reach their potential more effectively when they empower their children to manage their own lives.
This approach has three benefits:
- Taking the burden off of the parent
- Empowering children to make their own choices (within age-appropriate constraints) is so beneficial for their self-esteem.
- Children become invested in their choice and learn from the outcome, no matter what the outcome is.
As parents, we fear that our children will be harmed and we will feel guilty for not protecting them. It is scary to let go as they mature especially when they have special needs.
When we understand that the ‘fear’ is a result of our own perception, it helps us to see more clearly what choices to make. Yes…it is that ‘voice’ again.
Our ‘voice’ helps us ask ourselves…what is really true? How can I support my child to grow through an experience?
Truthfully, in reflection, the ‘guilt, worry and fear‘ stole more of my energy than the caregiving itself.
When I am caregiving from a joyful place, I have more energy. I have discovered this is the key to self-preservation!
How can we get rid of the caregiver burnout?
Ask yourself these 6 questions:
- What can I do to take care of myself?
- How can I let go of the ‘guilt, worry and fear’?
- What do I want ‘my inner voice’ to say?”
- What is the age-appropriate way to communicate with the people I care for?
- How can I take away the guess work by asking for what I need?
- How may I create clear action plans around each of the above?
Trust your gut to make the right parenting choices. Letting go of the control allows you to not only replenish your own battery, but also bring more joy into life and cure the caregiving burnout blues!