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WAYS THAT I COMBAT CAREGIVER BURNOUT

Worn out mother, yawning while holding her baby.

Lexi, my radiant daughter with Rett Syndrome, navigates life with the kind of curiosity and joy that lights up the darkest of rooms. Picture this: a sleepy Sunday morning suddenly giving way to the lively clattering of spoons. With limited hand agility but boundless determination, Lexi decides that our kitchen utensils were her orchestra, and she, the maestro. And the spoons go crashing; each spoon drops, followed by peals of laughter, a reminder of the joy often waiting in everyday moments.  

My parenting journey is undeniably punctuated both by moments of intense joy and by the unique challenges that caring for a child with a developmental disability brings. And so, I share with you, from a place of deep understanding and empathy, the seven ways that I keep the flame of my spirit alight amidst the inevitable shadows of caregiver burnout: 

1. Dancing to Our Own Beat

Our routine isn’t just a schedule; it’s a dance that Lexi and I have choreographed together. It balances the essential with the joyful, the structured with the spontaneous. When the rhythm of our daily life changes, as it often does, we adapt our steps, finding beauty in the unplanned twirls and dips. 

2. Our Chosen Family

The tribe we’ve built, comprising other parents, online allies, and local comrades, has been our fortress. They’re the shoulders to lean on, the ears that truly listen, and the voices that remind us we’re not alone. This community is our chosen family, a circle of support that understands, empathizes and uplifts. 

3. Moments for Me

Carving out “me” time is not a luxury; it’s a lifeline. Whether it’s getting lost in a book, embracing the tranquility of nature, or simply sitting in silence, these moments are my sanctuary. They’re crucial breaths of air that replenish my soul and enable me to be the best mother for Lexi. 

4. The Art of Letting Go

Delegating is an art I’ve learned to master, not out of necessity but out of love. It allows me to focus on what truly matters—being present with Lexi. Letting others in to share the caregiving and household responsibilities is a testament to trust and the understanding that it indeed takes a village. 

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5. A Thirst for Knowledge

Staying informed has been my shield against anxiety. Understanding Rett Syndrome, its challenges, and potential therapies empowers me to advocate fiercely for Lexi, armed with knowledge and unwavering resolve. 

6. Celebrating Our Victories

Each small victory is a milestone in our journey. Celebrating these moments—Lexi’s laughter, her engagement with the world around her, her relentless curiosity—is what fuels our journey forward. These are our triumphs against the backdrop of challenges, our beacons of hope. 

7. Seeking Strength in Vulnerability

Reaching out for professional support when the weight feels too heavy to bear alone has been a sign of strength. It’s a recognition that to care for Lexi, I must also care for myself. It’s in these sessions that I find clarity, understanding and the courage to continue. 

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish—it’s essential. By weaving these strategies into the fabric of our lives, we don’t just survive, we thrive. 

About The Author: 

Dr. Kimberly Idoko, MD, MBA, Esq. operates www.SpecialParentCoach.com, an e-learning and one-on-one coaching service for parents of disabled children. In addition, she is a neurologist with more than 15 years of clinical experience, and a children’s rights attorney who directs healthcare advocacy at a legal non-profit. She resides in Los Angeles with her family. 

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