Parenthood can be one of the most rewarding experiences for those who choose to have children. But it can also be extremely emotionally overwhelming at times. Learning how to navigate your new role and managing the needs of your children and your own can be a challenging balance to perfect, often leading to burnout.
Prioritizing alone time to enjoy a few moments with a delicious vape disposables or scheduling a weekly date night with your partner are effective ways of combating debilitating parental burnout.
What is Parental Burnout?
To put it simply, parental burnout is when a caregiver experiences emotional exhaustion and is left feeling mentally and physically drained. This happens when a parent is fully consumed by their children’s needs, which increases their stress levels and causes them to neglect themselves.
The idea of burnout has long been associated with the corporate world, while research based on studies done in the parental realm was first published as recently as 2019.
While symptoms may vary from person to person, there are common warning signs to look for if you suspect you may be suffering from parental burnout. They include depression, irritability, lack of sleep, increased levels of anxiety, crying spells, mental fog, emotional distancing, and additional job burnout.
These symptoms may overlap or change over time. But if you are can recognize any of the symptoms above, it is crucial to take a step back and reassess your situation to prevent things from escalating.
Date night may seem like a foreign concept that has been left way in the past, but taking time to go out alone with your partner will allow you both to rekindle your connection and relationship that is separate from your parental roles.
When your attention is constantly being diverted to your parental responsibilities and work commitments, it is easy to neglect the other person. You are each other’s life partner and biggest support, and maintaining a strong emotional connection will be a lifeline when things become overwhelming.
Forget the Perfect Parent
In an era of over-parenting and the impossible standards of social media, many parents feel pressured to meet unrealistic standards and expectations. When you are constantly flooded with unsolicited parenting advice, it can easily drown out any confidence you may have in your own instincts and decision-making skills.
Professor Isabelle Roskam, an expert in parental burnout, recommends that the best way to prevent this unpleasant and unnecessary stress is to ‘abandon the cult of the perfect parent’ and instead gain perspective on the advice available to make the best decision for your unique needs.
Seek Additional Help
A key step in preventing burnout is asking for help. By nature, people tend to want to complete tasks independently, with many people recognizing their struggle in seeking additional help. However, in doing so, we put immense pressure on ourselves, significantly draining our emotional, mental, and physical capacity.
Asking for help can come in many different forms, from asking a fellow school parent to carpool a few times a week, asking a trusted family member to babysit one night a week for date night, or seeking professional help if the situation warrants it.
Recognize the Struggle
When family life feels messier than normal, parents often believe it is entirely their own fault. But the reality is parenting is a challenge, even at the best of times. Outside factors that are simply out of your control will influence your ability to parent, making it even more difficult. Unless you are able to access only the best in childcare, schooling, and healthcare, there are going to be challenges you will have to navigate.
Nurse Diana Spalding once said:” You’re not doing it wrong. It’s just that hard.” Understanding that not all shortcomings are your fault is the first step.
While spending time with your partner, family, and friends is a crucial part of preventing feelings of loneliness and isolation, it is just as important to have time alone, especially for parents who have children that rely entirely on them. Just 20-30 minutes a day of quiet alone time will allow you to reflect on your day and prioritize your own needs without having to respond to other people.
Regardless of how much time you can carve out for yourself each day, use the time to enjoy a warm soaking bath, catch up on reading, watch your favorite series, or complete a short workout. Whatever you choose, ensure it is something that will calm the nerves and relieve stress.
Prioritise Life Skills
One of the most important roles of being a parent is equipping your children with the necessary life skills to survive and thrive in the real world. When they reach the age of understanding instructions and actions, teaching them how to clean up after themselves will not only give them a necessary new skill but will also allow you to create routines to better manage your daily schedule.
Kids learn best through action, so demonstrating to them how it is achieved, either by packing toys away, bringing plates to the sink, or hanging clothes up, will give them the best chance of recreating the action themselves. As they learn the routine, take a step back to allow them the space to grow.