Imagine you are aboard an airplane; you’re buckled in your seat, waiting on the runway before take-off. Next comes the pre-flight lecture from the flight attendant, which includes the instruction to pull the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth before assisting other passengers with their masks. That isn’t bad advice so take care of yourself first, or you won’t be able to provide good care for anyone else.
That means not shouldering the entire load alone; share the stresses and responsibilities as much as possible. For some, that will mean hiring the right therapist to provide the family with perspective and a confidential outlet to discuss difficult matters. Others may wish to engage a relative or family friend, or even resort to alternative therapies such as virtual fitness, recreation therapy to design individualized leisure plans or simply coach a loved one for a an hour or two a week, just to give yourself a breather.
Because each situation is unique, there are no hard and fast rules about the kind of support others receive during this time – only that he or she has enough support to prevent them from burning out. If a family cannot agree on ways to provide homeschooling or a predictable, consistent daily routine, it can be wise to seek an online objective specialist to assess the situation and recommend a path forward.
When is the right time to seek support?
Every situation is unique. But, under any circumstance, your objective for the family should be harmony in the house against that of the person in the family who has all the power and making life miserable. Also someone who has a disability will not necessarily understand why their routine is disruptive and might be scared and/or frustrated. Which is most important or in the most dire need of addressing: getting virtual professional care for your loved one, planning a weekly visit keeping in mind the need for social distancing, or strive for normalcy on your own but ensuring you have breaks and interesting distractions with the expectation more of the responsibilities will be shared as the last attempt to prevent burn out?
And finally, know your limitations. Initially, you may not have realized the vast amount of time and work involved during this pandemic to sustain your family or a particular loved one with a disability. Some people are able to settle into a groove without becoming overwhelmed, but others become wrapped up in the overwhelming responsibility and are quickly consumed by it. Don’t be ashamed to seek, online or at-home counseling, fitness, leisure activities, medical and mental health case management to avoid sacrificing your own mental health.