The 7 Signs of Parental Burnout And What to Do About It

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Parenting is a challenging job. It’s a role that requires constant attention, dedication, and effort. In fact, research shows that parents spend nearly 100 hours per week on parenting tasks – that’s more than your average work week! It’s understandable then, why many parents experience parental burnout at some point during their lifetimes. Parental burnout is a phenomenon where you feel completely exhausted as a parent. However, with the right support system and techniques to recharge your batteries, you can get through this phase successfully. Let us take you through some of the warning signs of parental burnout and what you can do about it…

What is parental burnout?

Parental Burnout happens when you feel physically and emotionally drained. Parenting is a very rewarding job, and it’s something that many people feel called to do. However, it is also a very challenging job, so it’s only normal that parents feel a bit overwhelmed from time to time. Parental burnout is a phenomenon that happens when you feel completely exhausted as a parent, either due to the many responsibilities that this role involves or because you’re struggling to balance everything at once. From daily tasks like getting your child to school on time to making sure that their emotional, social and cognitive needs are met, parents have a lot on their plate. These responsibilities, combined with the long hours that many people work, can add up to create feelings of parental burnout.

Parental burnout is more common than you might think.

Why do we experience parental burnout?

There are many different reasons why you may be experiencing parental burnout. Perhaps you’re having to juggle both work and parenting. Or, you may be feeling stressed due to a financial situation that has made it necessary for you to stay home and parent. There are different factors that affect each parent, but it’s important to be aware of them, so you can figure out how to deal with them before they become overwhelming. Here are some of the common reasons why parents experience burnout:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Lack of support
  • Feeling trapped in the role of parent
  • Lack of self-care
  • Conflicting relationships
  • Changing demands of children
  • Dealing with chronic illness
  • Financial situation
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Having to balance work and home life

7 Signs that you’re suffering from parental burnout

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, that may indicate that you’re suffering from parental burnout. It’s important to know that burnout is a very real and very normal phenomenon that happens to many parents. There’s no shame in admitting that you need a break from parenting, especially if you’ve been overdoing it. In fact, it’s a good idea to give yourself a break every now and then, especially when caring for others. Here are some signs that you may be suffering from parental burnout: 

1. You feel overwhelmed all of the time

Parenting is a difficult job that requires a lot of attention, but it’s also something that has to be balanced out by other things in your life. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the many tasks that parenting requires, that’s a sign that you may be burning out. This is particularly the case if the overwhelm is constant or ongoing.

2. You’re experiencing brain fog

Brain fog is quite common with new parents especially. It isn’t necessarily a sign that you are experiencing parental burnout on its own, but if long-term or combined with some of these other signs, then take notice!

3. You’re having trouble sleeping and eating

Good nutrition and a restful sleep cycle are important parts of your mental and physical wellbeing. Without these, you may find it more difficult to cope with everyday tasks. However, it can also be a catch-22 when the kids keep you up at night or need attention during mealtimes. If you find your sleep or mealtimes are impacted not just by parenting duties, then it may be due to chronic stress.

4. You have no energy

Parenting requires a lot of energy, but it’s important to remember that you need to rest and recharge your batteries, as well. If you feel like you’re constantly drained and tick some of the other signs on this list, then it could be due to parental burnout.

5. You feel like a bad parent

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed, it can play havoc with your perception of yourself. You may feel as though you’re failing at this whole parenting business and start engaging in negative self-talk. This kind of chronic stress can damage your confidence and self-esteem, and fill you with self-doubt.

6. You feel isolated or alone

Another warning sign of parental burnout is if you start to feel as though you’re completely isolated or alone in your parenting journey. You may even find yourself detaching from others, worried that your stress will impact their lives too.

7. You feel irritable or short-tempered

It can be difficult to keep your emotions stable when you’re experiencing any kind of prolonged stress. People are far more likely to argue when they’re tired, and if you’re feeling exhausted due to parenting then it makes sense why you’d feel irritable. This can then also feed into the self-doubt mentioned, as you’re worried your moods will be impacting your children.

While most of these signs on their own are sometimes just part of the joys of parenthood, if you experience more than a few or for long periods of time, then it could be due to parental burnout.

What to do when you’re feeling burnt out as a parent

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to take care of yourself. This is especially true for parents, since there’s so much to do and so little time in which to do it. However, it’s important to take some time to recharge your batteries, otherwise you risk burning out completely. Here are some things you can do when you’re feeling burnt out as a parent: – Be honest with yourself – Recognise the signs of burnout in yourself and then share your feelings with your partner, family members, or a trusted friend. 

Ask for help so you can take a break

 Every parent needs a break every now and then, although for some that can be easier said than done! Is there anyone who would be able to help you so that you can take a break? It might be a partner, co-parent, a family member, or even a community organisation or support group. In order to stop parental burnout in its tracks, it’s vital that you get some help with lightening the load as much as possible.

Do something for yourself

When you do get a chance to take a break, use these precious moments to do something just for you. It could be something quick and simple, like actually being able to enjoy a hot cup of tea. Or maybe it’s something bigger like going out for the day. If you can’t take a break, then try doing something for yourself with your children in tow – like heading out in nature or snuggling up in front of the TV together. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Ensuring you take care of yourself will help you take care of your children and loved ones better.

Focus on sleeping and eating

As mentioned, having children can make it really difficult to care of basic needs such as getting enough sleep and eating food that makes you feel good. If you really don’t have time for a break or to fit in self-care, then make sure you’ve got a Plan B (Plan Bare Minimum). How can you fit in a bit more sleep? Perhaps by sleeping when your little one goes down for a nap. How can you eat nutritious food when you don’t have time to cook? Maybe asking friends or family members to provide you with some freezer meals. Make these your priorities even when times are hard, as they have such a significant impact on your wellbeing.

Be kind to yourself

It’s important to remember that you’re doing the best you can as a parent. You may not be able to do everything you want to or have it the way you want it, but you’re doing your best. The more you talk negatively of yourself or tell yourself you’re failing, the more stressed and overwhelmed you’ll start to feel. Be patient and remember that every parent is just doing whatever they can to get through. You’re certainly not a bad parent and it’s more than okay to not get it ‘perfect’ (spoiler: no one’s doing it perfectly, not even the ones who look like they are on social media)!

Find support and talk to someone

There are many different ways of getting support depending on your needs. Whether you join a support group, call a helpline, or talk to a friend, it’s important that you reach out and get the support you need if suffering from burnout. This may be in the form of specific parenting support or it may be more tailored support for you personally through a GP or therapist. Either way, don’t feel afraid to talk to someone who can help. Talking about your struggles as a parent can help ease some of the burden and help you feel less alone.

Here’s a list of parenting helplines you may want to consider.

Finally, just know that you’re not alone in this. Use our tips to help you get through the toughest times and be able to enjoy the best of times more.

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