Do you worry that parental burnout is slowly wearing down your ability to give your best to your child? The responsibilities of parenting can sometimes feel endless, making you feel isolated and overwhelmed. This has been all the truer during the age of COVID, as parents juggle work and home lives in a way few experienced before.
If some parents were honest, they sometimes even feel like “quitting.” Deep down, they may feel ashamed for having such thoughts. In reality, they don’t want to throw in the towel. Still, they need a break from the ever-present responsibilities and to find better ways to cope with parental exhaustion.
It’s one thing to become burned out at work. You can always find a new job if things get bad enough. But you can’t quit parenting, nor is that your desire. So, your only remaining choice is to keep going. At the same time, burned-out parents can regularly feel like they can’t keep going.
One thing that could mean is parents are struggling with burnout. Let’s look a little closer at what parental burnout is.
What Do Parental Burnout Symptoms Look Like?
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled The Burnout We Can’t Talk About: Parent Burnout, Robyn Koslowitz Ph.D. shares the following:
“Burnout is an exhaustion syndrome, characterized by feeling overwhelmed, physical and emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing from one’s children, and a sense of being an ineffective parent.”
When you’re burned out at work, you emotionally disconnect from your job and co-workers. It’s a self-preservation attempt that only makes matters worse without adequately addressing it. But as sad as workplace burnout is, parental burnout is exponentially more so. Here are some of the ways parenting fatigue can present itself:
- Single parent burnout
- Single mom burnout
- Special needs mom burnout
- Stay at home mom burnout
- Working mom exhaustion
- General fatherhood or motherhood burnout
With parental burnout, you don’t just disconnect from a job but instead your number-one opportunity to make a positive difference in the world—your child. Obviously, that isn’t what you want, but you might feel powerless at the moment to change.
The good news is that despite how discouraged you may feel at the moment, there is still hope. You don’t have to go through life feeling this way. So, what is a burned-out parent to do? Here are some ideas.
Remember Some Parenting Overwhelm is Common
Real-life parenting isn’t like a “perfect” social media post. It can be challenging, exhausting, and messy. And there are many times that parents don’t have a clear answer on how best to handle challenges in their homes. Mom stress or dad stress isn’t completely unavoidable.
If you’re exhausted right now, please know this is something very common that all parents go through. That isn’t said to downplay or minimize how hard things are for you right now. However, feeling burned out as a parent is unsustainable and should be worked through so you can give your best.
Get Help for Parental Burnout Early
The very best way to handle parental burnout is to prevent it or address it early. This fact is all the more vital to highlight since parental burnout is so profoundly personal.
Parents tend to feel ashamed when they struggle to cope with parenting’s demands, and so the tendency is to try and hide these struggles. As a result, burnout can be quite progressed when help is sought, making it significantly harder to heal.
Improve Your Diet
Burnout can be caused by several factors, including a diminished level of physical wellness. Diets high in calories and processed foods are too typical in the Western world. As a result, you’ll likely see improvement by switching to healthier foods and cutting back on overconsumption.
Over the long run, you may experience weight loss. But most importantly, you’ll see a spike in your energy levels from consuming better “fuel.” Also, pay attention to your sugar intake, cutting out processed sweet drinks and snacks.
Is your lifestyle as a parent pretty sedentary? For many of us, this is the case. We work jobs where we don’t move around enough, sit in vehicles and stay too inactive at home. There’s a saying that “sitting is the new smoking.” That’s because we’re just starting to understand how incredibly detrimental not moving enough is to our health.
It may seem like you don’t have ample time to become more active, but, in reality, it’s a necessity. A job or your schedule is not more important than your health or your child. If you’re struggling to keep physically healthy, there’s a good chance your child is experiencing the same.
For this reason, consider getting out and staying active with your kids. Your entire family will benefit from this. Sometimes a healthier diet and exercise is the root cause of your parental burnout, although not always.
Regardless of which it ends up being, you’ll be able to better cope with burnout with a healthier body. If there is a different primary cause than physical health, having better wellness will give you a greater ability to handle it properly and find solutions. In reality, parental burnout is usually a mixture of various factors. The more causes you improve, the greater your chance of breaking free from burnout.
Tend to Burnout in Other Life Areas
Is there another life area contributing to the burnout you feel? That could include a toxic relationship, a career with crushing hours, or personal loss you’re struggling to cope with. All of these challenges will inevitably deplete your parental energy.
If there is a peripheral struggle that’s hurting your ability to be the best for your child, consider seeking the support of trusted friends and family to help you cope better. Also, consider prayer or meditation. Counseling is also an excellent idea if you’re struggling to cope with life at the moment.
Some parents struggle with burnout because their children aren’t helping around the house enough. Of course, young children are only so capable. However, as your children grow older, household responsibilities should grow easier than more difficult because of delegation.
The older your child is, the more they should be expected to help with cleaning and chores around the home. This will make your children feel more purposeful while giving you a much-needed break.
Schedule Time Away
No matter how much you love your child, you still need time away. For that reason, schedule in date times with your partner. Also, find ways to get away by yourself and with friends and family.
Over time, this will give you renewed energy to be present for your child rather than drowning out your time online or on social media because you aren’t getting adequate rest.
Are You Struggling with Parental Burnout? Counseling Can Help
Are you a stressed-out parent? If you’re struggling with extreme fatigue as a parent, that could be a sign of a physical health challenge. However, it could also result from a mental health concern such as an anxiety or depressive disorder.
For parents struggling in this way, counseling can help with mental health concerns you may have. You can also receive professional support as you rebuild your life to better handle parental burnout.
If you’re feeling stressed out and burned out as a parent, please consider getting in touch with the Orange County Relationship Center. You can also schedule an appointment with us and work towards a happier and more energetic parenting journey.