Parental burnout can be uniquely challenging to navigate. Sometimes when you’re burned out, the best thing you can do is change things up. If what’s contributing to your burnout can be cut out of your schedule, that’s a no-brainer.
For instance, activities like too much news consumption or social media use sap our energy and time while increasing stress. Time spent on these activities can easily be decreased, bringing relief relatively quickly.
Burnout strugglers can also sometimes take a break from their career for a short time if needed or change jobs altogether. But parental burnout isn’t so simple. After all, most parents don’t have the luxury of taking extended breaks from their childrearing responsibilities. And you can’t trade your kids in for new ones (although you may have the fleeting moment you wish you could)! For that reason, when parenting burnout sets in, parents can begin to feel hopeless.
It can feel like there’s no way to get the rest and relief you need. You can also find yourself feeling guilty because of not interacting with your children as you’d like due to high stress, mental exhaustion, and fatigue. Encounters with your kids can become anxious, short-tempered, and exasperated.
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled How to Cope with Parental Burnout, Mark Travers Ph.D. shares the following when describing the symptoms of burnout in parents: “Its primary symptom is overwhelming exhaustion relating to one’s role as a parent.
Other symptoms include:
- Emotionally distancing from children
- Feeling fed up with parenting
- Losing one’s sense of accomplishment from parenting”
A lack of energy isn’t typically the underlying cause of parental burnout. Instead, feelings of a loss of purpose, accomplishment and met goals lead to all-encompassing, debilitating fatigue. You can become resentful and disillusioned as a parent. So, what can you do if you’re feeling parent exhaustion?
Here are a few ways to cope with parental burnout symptoms.
First, Normalize How You’re Feeling
While you may be hard on yourself for how you’re feeling about your parenting responsibilities, please remember that some measure of parent fatigue is entirely normal. Every parent struggles with energy levels at times. Every parent feels like giving up during their weak moments, even though, deep down, they know they can’t.
Certain seasons of parenting require more energy from parents too. It can feel like those constant responsibilities will never let up. Yet, in time, they do become less demanding. While it’s true that some parents struggle more with parental burnout than others, we all can relate to exhaustion.
You’re not weak or uniquely flawed because you feel so tired. At the same time, if your struggle is deep and prolonged, it’s wise to get in touch with a local counsellor who can help.
Fight the Urge to Isolate
It’s safe to say that no other burnout type causes so much inner conflict and guilt. You can begin to feel bad about yourself when parenting starts feeling like a chore. As a new parent, you likely envisioned being there more for your kids. You pictured being in a thriving parenting role and helping your kids reach their fullest potential.
But now, you regularly find yourself just trying to survive.
You may specifically struggle with some of the following:
- Pandemic parenting burnout
- Single mom burnout
- Single dad burnout
- General motherhood burnout
- Working mom burnout
- Stay-at-home mom burnout
- Special needs parent burnout
All these challenges and more can make it seem like you’re the only one in the world struggling in this way. However, any honest parent can relate to those times when they felt they had nothing left to give.
Find parents out there with who you feel safe to share your struggles. If you can courageously admit the parenting role hasn’t been easy, it will make the rest of the parental burnout recovery process go far easier. You’ll begin to find renewed energy because you’ll have others you can discuss these roadblocks with. You’ll be able to share your challenges, which can make you feel encouraged and empowered as a parent.
Delegate Tasks in Your Home
Another vital step in coping with parental burnout is teaching your kids to help around the house. Yes, getting your children to do tasks at home can initially seem like more work than just doing everything yourself.
Sadly, that’s where too many parents leave the matter. They get tired of nagging their kids to help. After a while, they no longer ask their children for help and do most of the housework themselves.
Although it may seem like you can’t successfully delegate tasks in your home, remember there is a legitimate way to make it work. Ask parents around you what they do to motivate their kids to help more. Do they offer positive reinforcement of some kind? Also, what is considered a fair amount of work given your children’s ages?
Those around you can offer ideas for making delegation work for you. A therapist can also help you set guidelines in your home, so more gets done as a team. Although implementing delegation is more work upfront, it’s time well spent. In time, you can all learn to work together, alleviating much of everyone’s stress and exhaustion.
The Problem May Be Something Else
Another thing to keep in mind is that your perceived parental burnout may not be the root problem. There could be other more foundational life challenges making parenting exponentially difficult.
Your life can become comparable to a toothache. If that pain gets bad enough, it can be tough to feel where the pain is coming from. Everything starts to hurt.
For that reason, don’t rule out other possible underlying factors. There could be a physical health challenge making you more exhausted. You also could be dealing with work or relationship stressors or burnout in a different area of life that negatively affects your parenting role. In addition, anxiety or depression can interfere with your best parenting.
Are You Struggling with Parental Burnout?
Feeling like you have nothing left in your gas tank as a parent can be beyond discouraging. It feels overwhelming when your best efforts as a parent don’t seem like enough. Deep down, you want to be a happy, energized parent who is physically and emotionally available for your children.