In our first podcast for 2022 I’m getting real about how hard it is to parent gifted kids and the total burnout I experienced in 2021 – and I’m not alone!
So we’re talking about what burnout looks like, why parenting gifted kids is harder and messes with our health (if we let it!) and what we can do about it!
Hit play and let’s get started!
“I’ve always maintained that parenting is hard – full stop. It doesn’t matter who you are or who your kids are, it’s just hard. And it is. But recently, [I’ve realised] that most parents and families have a few years of very intense parenting before things start to level out and become easier… but parenting high-needs kids isn’t like that…” – Sophia Elliott
“It’s the hours spent supporting them through meltdowns. The hours spent as they process their day and try to fall asleep. It’s the energy put into creating a dinner that meets their sensory requirements. It’s meeting their sensory requirements.
It’s the hours figuring out what is going on, years on waitlists, assessments, reports, dead ends, answers. It’s the hours going to therapy…
It’s the hours thinking about how to meet their needs, finding professional support, taking them, paying, putting it into practice. Finding the right school. Advocating at that school. Supporting their cognitive needs.
Then cooking dinner.” – Sophia Elliott
“It’s not like I’m doing something wrong, it’s just a super-human effort to last this long and I’m all out of super-human.” – Sophia Elliott
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[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: I’ve been trying to be kind to myself. A lot over the last year, I’ve been very fragile. The big giveaway from time to time is finding myself, fighting back the tears, having done something insignificant, but it was just too much mine inconveniences that took a few minutes to remedy no big deal, but I would just feel weak.
[00:00:29] You know that feeling when you just want to cry, because it’s all too much, your sone, the edge that you overflow at the slightest nudge. If you’d asked me, I’d say, I’m good. I am good. We’ve had a big year. 2021 was a very big year, but we’ve moved forward in a bunch of challenges with huge relief. We’re in a pretty good place.
[00:00:55] This was just me from time to time, the cup would get completely empty or it would overflow depending on how you looked at it. For the past few years, my daydream has been the idea of spending a month in a silent retreat.
[00:01:09] Someone else does the laundry and cooks. I didn’t have to talk to anyone. All I have to do is sleep. Maybe meditate, watch TV, read, maybe the ode walk a bit of half-assed yoga. So this confirmed my suspicion, like so many parents. I was totally burned out in 2021. Like. I hit the wall in a bad way. It was really Missy 2021 was hard. I’ve always given more than I have. And I’m learning just how true that is as I’m actually still coming to terms with being autistic and gifted another gem of 2021, which I did not see coming at all, but that’s a whole other podcast.
[00:01:59] As a parent, that giving became an exponential curve leading directly to burning myself out. I’ve had to confront recently that parenting high needs, highly complex kids is actually really hard. I’ve never been particularly good at giving myself a break. So that was a confronting lesson. I’ve always maintained that parenting is hard, full stop.
[00:02:23] It doesn’t matter who you are or who your kids are. It’s just. And it is. But last year, talking to Kate from dynamic parenting, who was a previous guest on the podcast, she confirmed to me that most parents and families do have a few years of very intense parenting or a number of years. I don’t want to play that down before things start to level out and become easier, but parenting high needs kids isn’t alike that.
[00:02:53] Our kids rely on us for many more years, to help them co-regulate help them manage day to day. Living, help them meet all of their additional needs. So those intense years go on and on and on and on. I feel the truth of that in my book. In every tide cell of my body is the Alice spent supporting them through a meltdown.
[00:03:16] The hours spent as they process their day and try to fall asleep and try to fall asleep. Again, is the energy put into creating a dinner that meets their sensory requirements. It’s meeting their sensory requirements. It’s the Al is figuring out what is going on years on wait, lists, assessments, reports dead end.
[00:03:38] It’s the hours going to therapy? It’s the Al is thinking about how to meet their needs, finding professional support, taking them, paying, put it into practice, finding the right school, advocating at that school, supporting their cognitive needs and then cooking dinner. I feel like I’ve spent half of the past few years driving the other half thinking and problem solving and the other house supporting yes.
[00:04:07] That’s three houses. So that’s why I’m so freaking tired. Well, I couldn’t imagine any other reality. I’ve been told a typical family doesn’t contend with these challenges so intensely, especially for so long. Yes. There are many other challenges. It’s not a competition. Parenting is hard. It’s just an acknowledgement that a child with needs high needs is called high needs because those needs are higher than typical.
[00:04:35] Therefore, as parents, we have to ensure those needs are met or supported or fall in a heap. I spent years writing that off, assuming it’s this hard for this long for everyone, not daring to think, let alone say out loud, such a controversial parenting words as it’s harder for us, but it’s validating to knowing how exhaustion is war.
[00:05:04] I’ve even stumbled upon research recently that confirmed that parenting gifted kids is as stressful as parenting kids with a physical disability.
[00:05:14] There’s a lot of us holding it together and some days that’s easier than others. Those days are overshadowed by meltdowns, anxiety, and conflict. Take a toll. As parents, we need to fill our cup or we won’t have the resilience to last the distance. Honestly, I’ve been trying to rest most of 20, 21 trying to refill that cup.
[00:05:37] It’s a bloody empty cup. So it’s hard to feel. And that silent retreat is not getting any closer and life goes on. But acknowledging that actually does help. It really helps. It’s not like I’m doing something wrong. It’s just a superhuman effort to last this long and quite frankly, on the loudest superhuman.
[00:05:58] So I’m learning about what needs to have. What are the actual priorities? What can we cut out in the name of sanity and rest and what needs to stay? Unfortunately, dinner needs to stay. It’s like a Bain in my life, but there are certain levels of laundry standards that are negotiable. At least for me, I’m going to take a term off all, but strictly essential appointments to have a rest and give everyone some time to process.
[00:06:26] We’ve done it before and actually gave the kids some space to consolidate what they’ve learned and actually led to some nice leaps as well as a much needed reduction of weekly miles. So after two years of COVID and that uncertainty and the constantly changing environment, lots of us have burnt out parenting gifted kids is harder and research even validates that for one that’s what.
[00:06:53] ’cause I know we all feel it when we keep going and going and going for longer than your typical child, you burn out to those gifted and your divergent kids that we love so much need more support and co-regulation for longer. And after 5, 10, 15 years, it can affect our health too. So what is burnout?
[00:07:18] Are you tired? Exhausted burnt out, depressed, anxious, indifferent, irritable, angry. Is your sleep disturbed. Do you lack motivation as your brain a fog? Is your performance lower? Are you becoming a social? Do you have fragile emotions like me? Does your body just fill of aches and pains? If you’ve answered yes to any of these things, a good place to start is actually just checking in with your GP.
[00:07:52] Get a checkup under the last couple of years, have really struggled with low iron. And when that’s been the case, I have unlike. Beyond exhausted. It’s a whole different exhaustion, but I’m also grumpy. And now I’m recognized that particular feeling of exhaustion with that particular feeling of grumpiness means I need to check my iron.
[00:08:15] So consider a checkup, consider even some psychological support. If maybe depression is an issue or you’re just not feeling happy. They can be hard to get into and they can be waiting lists, but there are short term solutions as well. Call a helpline, talk to someone, maybe see a naturopath after you visited the GP.
[00:08:39] So in their book, burnout by parka to velour and is they have this list and I’m going to rate it for you. And if any of this resonates with you, maybe it’s more than just feeling tired. More even exhausted. Maybe, maybe you need to look into this burnout thing. So my word is my bond and I’m somewhat perfectionistic.
[00:09:06] I am viewed as a highly responsible person. I can’t get distanced from my responsibilities. Now, those first three, I think if you’re a parent of a gifted child, then you probably ticked all those. I like energy across the day. I feel emotionally drained and exhausted. I constantly feel tired or fatigued.
[00:09:28] I feel less satisfied with life. I have to read, read things because I wasn’t concentrating the first time. My attention is less. I’m more cynical about things and people in general, I find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand, my capacity to remember things is not as good as it was. I feel agitated.
[00:09:48] Constant. I tend to scan when I read rather than focus. Did any of that resonate for you? So I’ve been looking into this rest thing for, well over a year now, even before I burnt out, because I’ve never been good at it. I’ve always been a very busy person. Uh, whether in my actions or just in my hand, always working on something, learning something, doing something.
[00:10:15] So the idea of rest was actually a real big challenge for me. I stumbled across a book a couple of months ago called sacred rest by Dr. Saundra Dolton Smith, which suggested that there are seven types of risks. And this really inspired me to think that we could categorize rest. And, you know, and define it and actually break it down.
[00:10:41] And it’s really helped me to consider the different areas of my life. So on Instagram and Facebook, at the moment we are going through our nine days of rest gifted style as a part of that, we are looking at Dr. Saundra’s seven types of rest amongst other things, and I’m applying a gifted and neurodivergent lens to that because.
[00:11:05] On top of what she presents. I actually think if you look at it from a gifted and your own divergent point of view, there’s more to add. So there’s seven types of risks of physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, spiritual, and social rest. And they aren’t all exactly what they sounded like. There is actually something behind it.
[00:11:27] So if any of those things I ran out resonated with you. If this podcast had resonated with you, maybe check out those videos, they’re on Facebook and they’re on Instagram. And at the moment we’re still doing our nine days of rest. So you can get involved in, check that out. So we need to make changes. What can you do to make life easier for you?
[00:11:52] What needs to stay versus what is nice to have? What can you pause for a bit? What is essential? What expectations or standards can you lower to give yourself some space? I think the first step is actually figuring out where the deficit is, which is why I like Dr. S’s seven types of rest.
[00:12:15] It’s a opportunity just to kind of go okay. Where are the areas in my life where I have some deficits and I need to do some work because sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is actually work on ourselves. In fact, if that’s the one parenting hack that I have learned over the years, is that the one thing, the best thing we can do for our kids is work on ourselves.
[00:12:40] My biggest shifts in parenting have not come with my kids, changing their behaviors. It’s me changing my mindset or perspective about something. So today, ask yourself how bad is it? How bad is it for you? Cause it was pretty freaking burned for me.
[00:12:58] And if you need to take some action, if you need more than just a few nights sleep to write, you consider seeing a GP and taking a few next steps tune into our nine days of rest videos. They’re on Facebook and Instagram. Join us in the Facebook group and share your thoughts or how your. All subscribe on our website to get more info straight to your inbox and our gifted kids don’t come.
[00:13:24] So keep an eye out over the next week or so. So when we open the doors to the, our gifted kids, hub is a monthly membership community for resources and peace of mind that I’ve been working on for some time. It’s an opportunity for parents of gifted kids to get together in a safe place. To connect with people to have that community and to have a whole bunch of resources to make it easier, save time and energy in this parenting, gifted kids journey.
[00:13:55] So subscribed on our gifted kids.com to stay in the loop for that one. And we’ll talk to you soon. And in the meantime, get a little arrest event. It.