Recently I have experienced a period of ‘burnout’, both on a personal and professional level. Attempting to juggle a fulltime career with the needs of a SN child, the worries caused by the cost of living crisis and the ever growing anxiety over my childs health meant that I simply could do no more.
Taking the time necessary to fully recharge and recover sadly isn’t an option – we can’t just hand our son over to someone else, leave work and take a full break for several weeks. However, taking a step back and just catching my breath did give me space to think.
How many of us have had to remind ourselves that its ok for our kids to progress at a different rate to what we originally expected? That childhood is meant to be a journey of discovery and excitement, not a sprint to the finish?
When I chose to have a family I knew that my career would take a back seat but I had originally thought that would be for a few years, until my child was a bit older and didn’t need quite such intensive parental input.
Almost 13 years later, he has the same care needs of a newborn despite having the cognition and spirit of a typical 12 year old boy.
It has meant that any career aspirations have faltered, and my smiles as I celebrate colleagues successes hide a deep sadness and a tinge of jealousy that I have been unable to put the energy into my own career.
It is hard to realise that I am suddenly some 5-10 years older than my colleagues who are being promoted to senior positions, while I remain at the same level I have been at for years.
My recent period of burn out was a direct result of taking on too much; it has served as a hard reminder that despite what the media would have us believe we can’t always have it all. For me a change in focus was in order, allowing me to focus on developing my own interests at work, rather than focusing on promotion, or a new role.
While we are fully aware of how important it is to look after our physical health as parents, caring for our mental health is often more difficult but no less crucial. SN parents give up a lot but we gain far more than we lose; isn’t it about time we give ourselves the same grace we give to our amazing kids and accept that progress no matter how small will happen. After all, life isn’t meant to be a race.