Managing your stress when caring for your disabled child

Many parents of disabled children feel under pressure or stressed. Managing stress might help you to feel more in control.

Emotional and practical support can help too.

Respite care

People feel stress in different ways

"I can’t sleep."

"I can’t eat."

"I’m eating too much."

"I can't focus or remember things."

"I can’t talk to my partner."

"I’m drinking too much."

"I feel like no one understands what I’m going through."

"I feel like I can’t cope."

Making things easier at home

Being a parent is hard. Looking after a child with additional needs means that you have even less time and energy at home. This can cause some parents to reach a crisis point.

If you care for a disabled person, you can have an assessment to see what support might help make your life easier. This is called a carer's assessment, also known as a parent carer’s assessment. 

Carer’s assessment

Accepting that your life has changed will help. Some parents cope with these extra pressures by:

  • talking about how life has changed
  • not pretending that things are ‘fine’
  • not cooking or cleaning as often (for example, eating more ready meals or doing less cleaning)
  • choosing your battles and maybe letting more things go
  • sleeping whenever you can, even if it’s 10 minutes
  • prioritising what’s important to you at the time

What support do you have?

Has anyone offered to make things easier? This could be looking after your child while you have a bath or go shopping. Ask for help if you need it.

Support could be a parents group, nursery, a friend you can talk to or respite care.

Finding a carer for your disabled child

Warning Find other parents with disabled children

Other parents in the same situation may understand and be able to help you.

Talk to parents in our online community

Parent support groups

Respite care

Respite care, also called short breaks for carers, is temporary care that lets you take a break from looking after a disabled adult or child. It does not affect your benefits.

Respite care is there to support your wellbeing and health, allowing you to care for a disabled person. You do not need to wait until you’re struggling.

Respite care and short breaks for carers

Take time for yourself

Getting some rest, looking after your mental health and asking for support can help you and your family manage.

If you can, try taking a little time off. Try relaxing by:

  • having a bath
  • going for a walk
  • watching TV
  • reading a book or magazine
  • catching up with friends

Warning Supporting your mental health

If struggling with stress means you need support with your mental health, ask when you can.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important. Everyone manages their mental health differently.

There are many things you can try.

Managing your mental health

Talk to your GP if you need help

Talk to your doctor about getting treatment and support.

Discuss what’s affecting you. Tell your GP if you’re stressed, depressed or if you feel like you’re not coping. You could prepare for your appointment by writing down what you want to say. You could talk about:

  • how you’re feeling
  • if you’re not able to eat or sleep normally.

What should I say to my GP? (Mind)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 13/06/2023

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