We’ve all heard it said that children are a heritage from the LORD, or gifts from the Universe, etc. Indeed our children bring us great joy. But let’s face it, there are times when parenting feels overwhelming, tiring, and even boring. No one really likes to say that out loud, do they? Parental burnout is a real thing. Avoiding the subject doesn’t make it better, but there are things we can do for ourselves to help identify parental burnout and understand what to do about it.
Being a good parent is just as much about being there for your kids as recognizing when you are feeling the stress of being a parent. Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you a bad parent. It’s a good parent that says, “This is hard,” and decides to do something about it.
What Does Parental Burnout Look Like?
How are you supposed to know what parental burnout looks like? There are some obvious signs, then some not so obvious. Some parents are really good at dealing with stress. So good that they struggle without even realizing it. Those feelings of burnout can be evident in other ways. Perhaps you have shown some of these signs:
- Change in sleep patterns
- Spending too much time online
- Compulsive overeating/spending
- Avoiding affection from your child
- Impatience with your child
- Getting angry over minor things
- Panic attacks or anxiety
- Obsessing over whether or not you are a good parent
How Would You Rate Your Own Parental Burnout?
How did you do with the list? Did you recognize any of the symptoms of parental burnout? Some of these symptoms are also the same for other kinds of stress, including PTSD and emotional trauma. Having these existing diagnoses, along with parental burnout can compound the symptoms.
Sometimes we need to get honest about how mental health issues like depression or anxiety can affect our response to parental stress. It is in the honesty that the right changes can be made and can make all the difference.
Meaningful Ways To Help Yourself With Parental Burnout
How can we take steps to alleviate parental burnout and avoid it reaching dangerous levels? There are some practical things moms and dads can do when the stress of being a parent starts to feel too heavy.
The obvious stress reliever is taking some time away from the kids. This is usually the go-to solution for most parents who are feeling the pinch. But some of the things they might be doing while they are taking a time out may not be helping the situation at all. One of the typical things moms do is go out with their friends. That can be a great stress reliever as long as what you are doing while you are out is positively impacting your stress. Consuming alcohol or other substances may make you feel better about life in the moment, but the backlash can actually compound your stress.
Substances wreak havoc on the mind and body leaving mom or dad feeling worse the next day. No matter what good time you have after a night out, your kids are still going to need you at your best the next day. Best advice? Skip the club and go out for coffee or lunch with your friends. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to take on the challenges of being a parent.
Exercise is one of the best parental burnout busters out there. Just 20 minutes a day can do wonders for your mental outlook. You don’t need to spend money to get your mind and body in better shape. Going for a walk in the park, taking up running, or doing some workouts you find online at home will make a positive impact. If you can’t leave your kids to exercise, involve them in the activity. It will provide a bonding moment for you all and help them feel better about themselves too.
Can’t get away for a night out? One great suggestion is putting on music in the house. You can turn your home into a dance party in minutes by getting the tunes going and jamming out in your house. Your kids will love the positive vibes and opportunity to burn off some energy in the process.
Letting Someone Know When You Are At Your Max
Life happens whether we want it to or not. Sometimes parents are already burnt out when a crisis hits. There are times when more help is needed than just your friends. Mom or Dad, don’t wait until you want to give up before you tell someone life feels like too much right now. If you are feeling less like parental burnout and more like parental distress, it’s time to seek help. There are local crisis lines in the area to help you. You can also call us at ABC Women’s Center to discuss what is available in your area to help you over this hump in life. Don’t delay. If you need help feeling your best about being a parent, we are here to help.