“Babe, you really need to go to Starbucks by yourself. Or maybe go get your nails done. You need you time, like right now”.
My husband said that to me this week.
At first it feels awful. I mean, am I doing that terrible of a job that people can see that I’m drowning?
But here’s the thing, autism is beautiful. It’s amazing to watch the creative ideas that my son comes up with, and I love learning as much as I can about how to help him grow and learn. As I’ve shared before, though, sometimes it’s ugly.
It’s all worth it, but sometimes it just zaps your energy.
Caregiver burnout is a real thing, and it’s important that we talk about it and share ways to help with it.
When Autism Zaps Your Energy
Why Autism Zaps Your Energy
First I feel the need to say that being a mom is hard, period. All moms will reach burnout at some point. The main difference is that when you have an autistic child (or any high needs child) the burnout comes a lot quicker.
Parents of typical children have to deal with tantrums while we deal with meltdowns.
Parents of typical children deal with picky eaters, while we deal with big eating struggles.
We take our kids to therapies, we research new ideas, and we try our best to advocate for our children all that we can.
Often we don’t get breaks like typical moms do. It can be hard to get a babysitter who can understand our child’s needs and how to best care for them. It can be hard to find churches, small groups, or other activities willing to accept your child for who they are.
Like I said, it’s all worth it. But sometimes it’s exhausting and it really gets to us. Sometimes we just burn out.
Realizing it’s Happening to You
Sometimes we are so in our lives that it can be hard to recognize when we’re starting to burnout.
I’m lucky in that my husband can tell when I’m reaching my breaking point.
Not everyone has someone who catches those little things, so I’m including a few things to watch out for.
It’s totally normal to feel “done” somedays. Those days when your kids wake you up early, and you start your day by stepping on a lego. Or the days where your kids have a stomach flu and you have a migraine.
When you’re experiencing burnout, even days that don’t have any extra difficulties leave you feeling done.
If you find yourself reaching your breaking point every day before lunchtime, it’s probably safe to say your energy has run out.
Understanding that it’s Okay to Feel This Way
This life is exhausting.
Having a child diagnosed with autism doesn’t suddenly turn you into Super Mom. We need sleep. We need time to feel like real people instead of only being moms.
It’s absolutely okay to need rest.
It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your kids. It doesn’t mean that you’re selfish.
Moms today are doing more with and for their kids than any generation. It becomes all too easy to put our needs aside and completely zap our energy and burn out.
Don’t feel guilty for being human.
How to Help Get Yourself Out of a Funk
There are tons of ways to help get yourself out of a funk. Some are simple, like taking a relaxing bath. Others take a bit more work, like having a date night with your spouse.
I wrote an entire post about resting and self care for autism mamas that you can see here, but the gist of it? Do something.
Read a book. Take a walk. Get a Starbucks. Take a long shower. Listen to loud music. Read your Bible.
Do something that reminds you that you’re a real person.
Do something that helps you to see your value.
Do something that brings you peace and joy.
Why This is So Important
When you reach your breaking point, you’re no help to anyone.
If you’re snapping at the kids from the very start of the day, you’re only going to trigger more meltdowns and cause more headaches for the entire household.
There’s an old cliche, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and that couldn’t be more true.
As autism mamas we give and give and give. We have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves in order to take care of our families.
Trust me. It is absolutely vital that you see when autism zaps your energy before it becomes too late. Your kids need you, your spouse needs you, your whole family needs you. So take care of yourself before it’s too late!
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