Parenthood is a full-time job. Like any full-time job, it’s possible that at some point or another, you will feel burnout. Perhaps it’s something you have experienced for a while but haven’t recognized. You may already know you are burned out, but can’t figure out how to get back in your groove.

Take away the shame

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. There is no shame in experiencing parent burnout. Burnout can happen to anyone and it does not mean you are a bad parent.

Sometimes we ignore symptoms of burnout because we fear that actually acknowledging burnout will make us less than in some way. In actuality, admitting that we are burned out is the first step towards rediscovering our equilibrium as parents.

What is parent burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that results from prolonged stress or excessive workload. The rise of burnout has been well documented in many professions such as healthcare workers and educators. Just as nurses can become overwhelmed when caring for patients, parents can experience burnout while raising their children.

How do I know if I am experiencing burnout?

Burnout can manifest itself in different ways, so it may look different from one parent to the next. Some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Physical symptoms-fatigue, headaches, insomnia
  • Emotional symptoms -irritability, anxiety, depression
  • Behavioral symptoms -neglecting self-care, withdrawing from social activities

Why are parents vulnerable to burnout?

Parents are vulnerable to burnout for multiple reasons.

  1. Parenting is a full-time job with no days off
  2. Parenting requires a significant amount of physical, emotional, and mental energy.
  3. Parenting is a constant balancing act
  4. There is a large amount of perfection pressure
  5. Feelings of isolation
  6. Lack of intellectual stimulation
  7. Self care neglect

When we recognize that parenting is a demanding role, we can give ourselves more self-compassion when it comes to burnout. It’s important to understand that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Feeling exhausted doesn’t mean we love our children any less, it means we need to find ways to refuel and re-energize.

Young mother trying to work from home with a baby girl on her lap. Parent burnout can happen when parents are constantly multitasking.

Situations that can contribute to parent burnout

  1. Lack of support: Parents who lack support from their partner, family, or friends may feel isolated and overwhelmed, which can contribute to burnout.
  2. Financial stress: Financial stress can put a strain on parents and make it difficult to meet the needs of their children, leading to burnout.
  3. Overcommitment: Parents who overcommit to work, community activities, or their children’s activities may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
  4. Challenging children: Children who have behavioral or emotional challenges can be particularly demanding on parents, leading to burnout.
  5. Constant conflict: Parents who experience ongoing conflict with their partner or children may feel stressed and burnt out.
  6. Lack of boundaries: Parents who have difficulty setting boundaries may find themselves constantly giving to others and neglecting themselves.

Why should you care about burnout?

Burnout can have a significant impact on all aspects of your life, including your parenting, relationships, work, and mental health. When parents are burnt out, they may become less patient, less engaged, and less effective in their parenting. Burnout can also lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Additionally, it can affect your work or career, leading to decreased productivity, absenteeism, or even job loss.

How do you fix parental burnout?

  • Make time for self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial for preventing burnout. Schedule time for yourself and engage in activities that help you relax and recharge.
  • Take care of your physical health– Get enough sleep, and eat a balanced diet. Avoid unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking or smoking.
  • Set realistic expectations: Recognize that you cannot do everything. It’s okay to ask for help or delegate tasks. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your children.
  • Prioritize commitments– Learn to say “no” to commitments that don’t align with your priorities or values. Set boundaries and communicate your needs with your partner, family, or friends.
  • Seek support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a professional counselor for support. Talking to someone about your feelings and concerns can help you gain perspective and feel less isolated. Joining a parenting group or online community can also provide a sense of belonging and support.
  • Manage your time: Prioritize your tasks and allocate your time accordingly. Break large tasks into smaller ones and tackle them one at a time.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you stay present and focused, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. Even taking a few minutes each day to breathe deeply and clear your mind can make a significant difference.
  • Take breaks: Allow yourself to take breaks and disconnect from your responsibilities. Even short breaks throughout the day can help you feel more energized and productive. Consider taking a weekend away or scheduling regular “me time” to recharge your batteries.

Seeking professional help for parent burnout

Parental burnout can have serious consequences for both parents and children, so it’s essential to seek professional help when you can’t seem to get a handle on it. Here are some signs that it may be time to seek additional assistance.

  1. Feeling overwhelmed: If you are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and struggling to cope, it may be time to seek help.
  2. Chronic fatigue: If you are constantly exhausted and unable to get enough rest despite trying to get enough sleep.
  3. Irritability and mood swings: If you find yourself easily agitated, quick to anger, or experiencing mood swings.
  4. Neglecting your own needs: If you are neglecting your own needs, such as not getting enough sleep, exercise, or social interaction.
  5. Loss of joy: If you are no longer finding joy in activities that used to bring you pleasure.
  6. Strained relationships: If your relationships with your partner, children, or friends are becoming strained due to your burnout.
  7. Escalation of unhealthy coping mechanisms: If you are turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs to deal with the stress of parenting, it is essential to seek help immediately.

A qualified therapist or counselor can help you develop coping skills, set boundaries, and manage stress to avoid burnout. They can also provide a safe space for you to discuss your feelings and experiences without judgment. Don’t hesitate if you think you need professional help. The sooner you act, the better.

Final Thoughts

Parenting is a challenging but rewarding journey. All parents feel discouraged and frustrated at times. Recognizing when you are burned out can help you know when you need to evaluate what needs to change to improve your situation. You deserve to be happy! Your children deserve a parent who can be fully present in their lives. Seeking help is always a sign of strength.

For tips on how to make connecting with your child easier, check out my articles on the power of empathy, how to make listening to your kids your superpower, and how to build your confidence in comforting sick kids.

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