More Than A Mom: 3 Anchors to Help You Avoid Caregiver Burnout

It’s not easy being a caregiver and a parent at the same time. Trust me when I tell you they are NOT the same role, even if the person you’re caring for is your child. Caregiver burnout is real, and it is often overlooked because “it’s a part of the job.” How you avoid caregiver burnout is often a tricky process that can leave you feeling more frustrated than free.

Having a child with special needs (no matter how severe) thrusts you into a whole new world. You just aren’t expected to parent and guide. In this world, you are expected to advocate, handle medical needs, and manage a team of doctors, social workers, and teachers. You are expected to make sure medications are administered on time and therapies are practiced at home.

The World of Caregiving

The world of caregiving is thankless, exhausting, and relentless. For 14 years I was the caregiver to my oldest son, Marcus. He was diagnosed with Autism and later on in life, epilepsy. This was while supporting my daughter, also on the spectrum.

I didn’t realize how energy-draining caregiving was. When I told my family how exhausted I was with the maintenance of my special needs children, I was told it was just motherhood, and I needed to deal with it. For years, I thought I was crazy, that maybe if I did more, or got more organized, that I could make this entire experience easier.

Being a caregiver is going to require you to give more of yourself and perform at a higher level than many moms. Your ability to navigate caregiving sanely and avoid caregiver burnout will be dependent on three things: how clear you are, how simple you make your life, and how you are able to organize your energy to serve you best.

The 3 Anchors to Help You Avoid Caregiver Burnout

I’m going to share some real-life ways you can use these three anchors in your life to help you navigate caregiving and avoid the burnout that often comes with it. 


This is the hardest step of all. So often, you are so entrenched with all the needs of your loved one that the thought of pulling it apart too seems impossible. This is the most necessary step because it’s going to help you see what your real next steps should be. 

When my son was becoming too much for me to handle, I would go into his appointments with his supports coordinator and just say that we needed help and that I was tired. She would bring up solutions, but never solutions that fit us. I had to get clear about what my largest pain points were and where we actually needed help. This allowed me to get more specific supports and kept me from getting sucked up in the random. 

I sat down with a sheet of paper and just started writing out all the ways I needed additional support with him. This allowed me to show up boldly and confidently to all I requested help from. 


Make life as simple and plain for yourself as possible. Make “no” your new go-to word, and stop doing all the things. Simplifying is about setting and applying boundaries that support you. This step is about removing things that just don’t support the big picture.

My son and daughter were in two different therapies, each. While that might not seem like a lot, you and I both know the mental weight of those appointments. So I took it down to one each and had them go on the same day, with different therapists. I began telling teachers and doctors how I wanted them to interact with me and how I needed information. 

In this step, I was able to find a respite facility for my son and support for my daughter to take the weight off of me. Because I was already clear about what our family needed, it allowed the hiring process to be simpler and to go smoothly.

This is the step where I also started delegating more tasks to my husband and outsourcing things neither one of us had the bandwidth to do. Simplifying is all about relieving the pressure in a way that aligns with your needs. 


This is beyond purchasing pretty planners and creating a perfectly crafted to-do list with all the time slots penciled in. This is about organizing your energy in a way that serves you instead of a way that drains you.

I used to think scheduling was all about filling in the blanks and making sure that every pocket of time was accounted for, and that drove me nuts. I quickly discovered that my energy was more valuable than my time because it was even more precious. 

Not only that, but I used to schedule things back to back and not leave any room in my day for error. Every moment of my day I was in go-mode, consistently busy but never fulfilled and always exhausted.

I started adding transition time to my schedule to account for traffic, meltdowns, and life happening. This led to having less stuff on my list and less stress. Doing this also helped me to really choose what I dealt with during a day. This in turn reduced my anxiety and overwhelm around my schedule.

avoid caregiver burnoutFinal Thoughts on How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

I get it, being a caregiver is hard work, and trying to navigate that and parenting is a challenge. As long as you take care of you, the journey won’t feel as tough. You’ll make it through. Make sure to be clear about what you need, simplify your life, and organize your energy. You’ll be well on your way to keeping caregiver burnout at bay and experiencing life fully.

I don’t expect you to implement these all today (and neither should you) nor get it perfect on the first try. I want to invite you to give yourself grace and space in this process. Know that you’re swimming in uncharted waters. We here at Detroit Mom are here for you, and so many of us have experienced caregiver burnout as well.

If you’ve made it through caregiver burnout, add in the comments what helped you through and what kept you from going back. Let’s pay it forward and help another momma thrive. If you have a sister-friend that’s in the caregiver trenches, share this article with her.

For more on caregiving, read how Stacy relates to being part of the “sandwich generation.”


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