The Truth About Caregiver Burnout
Parenting kids who have experienced intense early childhood trauma qualifies them as special needs kids. It also makes you a special needs mom. This isn’t an easy road to walk. I want to share some simple truths about parenting kids affected by early childhood trauma that will hopefully help shift your perspective and help you lighten up on yourself a bit!
Truth #1: You are not a failure.
You are not a failure. You are not crazy. Nor are you a bad parent! You are a special needs parent raising a child with intense, but all too often invisible special needs. That makes you a special needs mom…or a mom with special needs herself!
What you do is HARD! Anyone who might suggest otherwise has never walked in your shoes. They have never tried it, have never done it, and often can’t even wrap their heads around the extremes of what we live with every single day.
Truth #2: The stuff your child does isn’t your fault!
All those crazy and intense behaviors your child displays aren’t your fault. The majority of us raising traumatized children are adoptive or foster moms. Our child’s issues aren’t the result of anything we did or didn’t do. The issues were there long before they joined your family.
They are, however, the long-term impact of early childhood trauma and/or fetal alcohol exposure. Both trauma and alcohol can significantly impair a child’s brain and how they act, react, and process information. Though their issues can’t be loved away, disciplined away, lectured away, or even therapized away, they can improve with the right parenting and other supports.
Truth #3: Caregiver burnout is a real thing!
Caregiver burnout (aka caregiver fatigue) is a real thing and it’s a big deal! Moms of special needs kids are especially susceptible to it, too. Our kids may be sweet and charming in public, but behind closed doors, our life is comparable to living within a war zone. The challenges are real, unrelenting and beyond exhausting.
Unfortunately, most of us were also thrown into the deep end of things without warning and without proper tools, training, or support. We were simply expected to love the kids and figure out how to make it work. Yet what we do and what we put up with is anything but “normal.”
We moms are quite often the favorite target of all our kids’ special stuff. We are the ones who get the full brunt of their big feelings and off-the-charts behavior. Yet we are also the ones charged with protecting them, keeping them and everyone else safe, and advocating for them and their needs. Plus, we still have to keep the family running and parent our other kids in the process.
That is a lot to put on anyone! It’s no wonder so many moms of traumatized children end up becoming traumatized ourselves or burning out before our kids get better! I know it happened to me. If it has happened to you, you’re definitely not alone.
Caregiver burnout isn’t a character flaw!
Burnout isn’t a character flaw. It doesn’t happen because you’re not smart enough or strong enough to handle whatever life is throwing at you. Caregiver fatigue is the result of caring for someone who can’t care for themselves and having no end in sight to the situation. It intensifies when we get stuck in a cycle of never-ending chaos, fear, exhaustion, and hopelessness for too long without having enough of the proper training, support, or tools we need to do the job we have been tasked with.
In other words, caregiver burnout is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation!
You are entitled to have big feelings, too!
If you feel exhausted, angry, or even resentful about parenting your special needs kids, you are not alone! Parenting traumatized children is a journey that will try your patience and test your capacity to love, to forgive, and will likely the strength of your marriage, too.
I completely understand what it feels like to live in a constant state of high alert. I know all too well the hatred and anger coming from your kid that no one else ever gets to see. I also get the deep exhaustion and crushing weight of trying to keep up with everything that pushes you back to bed and leaves you depressed, terrified, and isolated. Even though feelings like this are “normal” given our circumstances, they are also a warning sign. Left unchecked or ignored, parent burnout can do significant and lasting damage to our bodies, our own mental health, and all our relationships. It can also have a disastrous effect on our ability to function in all areas of our life, including parenting!
There is a way out!
The good news is that parent burnout can be reversed! I have a super cool freebie titled “10 Essential Strategies for Reversing Parent Burnout…and leaving the trenches of chaos for good!” I’d love to share it with you. All you have to do is sign up to receive it. This cheat sheet outlines the exact steps needed to help you reverse caregiver burnout, reclaim your own sanity, put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your own life, and restore peace and harmony to your family.
I’ve lived this stuff (and am still living it!) I know what works, I know what doesn’t work, and more importantly, I know WHY! I’m also living proof that there is indeed a way out of the burnout and chaotic darkness.
It’s quite okay if you don’t believe these things are possible for you just yet. I didn’t believe it was possible for me for a long time, either. But I was wrong…and I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about anything in my life! It really is possible…and it is very much worth what it takes to make it happen!
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- Why Mom’s Attitude Matters! - January 21, 2020