Coping with a Parental Burnout
By now, it’s no secret that parenting can be one of the most difficult jobs out there, regardless if you are in it alone or if you share the hardships and rewards with a partner or your family. Granted, it can be easier to manage caring for a child or more when you have other people’s support, both emotionally and in terms of actual help around the house, but in the end parenting does not become “not stressful”.
Every parent comes across those days of maximum stress and minimum time available to do everything they set in their mind for the day, or even for the week when you have a little child glued to your hip or clinging to your leg at the same time. Be it because your career’s workload is piling up or coworkers are building up an unnecessary amount of drama, and as such, stress, on you, or because business moves at a different pace recently, the worries from the workplace never really get left behind when you leave the job to go home. The same applies if you’re trying to balance being a parent and studying instead of working, or all three at once if you’re really feeling brave.
Then, at home, no family is made out of saints, and if you came from work slouched by worry and bonus stress and you see your toddler doodling on the furniture, or see a sea of toys spread all across the living room, well…all of that keeps piling up on your shoulders. The more you allow yourself to gather, to bottle up in terms of stress and annoyances, the worse it will be when all those things eventually break loose when you go past your maximum tolerance point.
As such, your outbursts may vary. On one hand, you could feel yourself turn unreasonably irritable all the time, and moody is not a word that begins to cover the experience. On the other hand, your energy might be so far gone, all dried up from the busy period you’ve been going through, that you might just feel like you’re succumbing to a feeling of hopelessness or despair.
While that may sound like a logical outcome, you shouldn’t let it get there. It may not be easy to get back on track again with everything, and neither you nor your family will benefit from such a decline in your spirit.
When your parenting “performance” is starting to decline, you might be facing a parental burnout. So while we spoke above about how a parental burnout, or just burnouts in general, might get installed, how can you spot the symptoms? Whether you’re already feeling burned out or if you suspect you might be close to your breaking point, you should look out for these symptoms and try to embark on your journey of coping with such burnouts. It’s also always a good idea to seek help from those around you, be them family members, your partner or a therapist to talk to.
If you strive too much to do everything perfectly, the pressure you put on yourself will transform into unnecessary stress, unnecessary headaches, and an overall declining health state. If someone else is putting you under so much pressure, especially in sensitive periods, it’s a good idea to sit them down and talk to them about this and bring it to their attention that they are not helping, but actually making things worse for yourself. However, if communication is not an option, seek out support from friends or family that can offer you help to overcome that hurdle.
It’s inevitable that, at some point, you will start feeling exhausted from taking care of everything, but you don’t have to strive to be a perfect parent. So long as you consistently care for your child and provide for them accordingly, there is no belittling or underestimating the work you put in to assure the well-being of your family. What can you do when you feel like you’re being outrun by the situation, though?
Take a break
Schedule a day only for yourself, for tending to your mental health and for treating that exhaustion, be it physical or psychical as well. If you can leave your kid with your partner, that’s great! Otherwise, you can reach out to a trustworthy family member or friend, and don’t forget to take care of the work or school aspect as well if you’re trying to take a day off for yourself. If your schedule at work or courses isn’t flexible, try doing this in a weekend.
Outline the good things
If you feel overworked and feel like things are getting out of hand, try to sit back and do a recap of everything that went fine in the last couple of days. If nothing comes to mind immediately, don’t fret, and try your best to come up with at least 5 things. Successfully got the kids to school with no incidents? That’s a win. Did baby eat without fussing or without making a mess? Yet another win. You’re doing a lot of things well and you just don’t give yourself enough credit for it all. Recognizing your success is just as important as recognizing your mistakes, which you can fix.
As mentioned before, if you feel like you need someone to turn to rant or if you need advice with various matters, finding support among your family, friends or among professionals is of great importance. You shouldn’t ignore your feelings and there should be no shame in thinking about your own well-being as well. After all, if you’re not feeling well, it’s only logical that you try to get better instead of waiting for it all out and risking to worsen your state. A therapist can help you understand the feelings you’re experiencing and everything that you’re going through much better than a friend may be able to, and it’s definitely good to get some advice from people who have either gone through similar burnouts or at least have addressed them in the past, in order for the advice to be beneficial for you.