Parental burnout. We have all been there, are living it or have yet to experience that ultimate feeling of fatigue and pain. Quite honestly, my color-coded Google Calendar doesn’t help me feel any better and only increases my anxiety.
Why the burnout?
Almost 50 percent of parents say they are exhausted just from work, and 12 percent from just being a parent. Why? Parenting is the only job that requires your attention all day, every day, year-round, so it’s natural to be concerned about burning out. Life can be stressful and if you have multiple children, a job, school, other relatives you need to care for and/or pets, all of these things can compound and add to your levels of stress and burnout.
Do you feel like you are continually anxious and exhausted at the same time? Or are you constantly dealing with boredom or a loss of interest in things you normally enjoy? Do you find yourself a little more irritable than usual? These are key signs of parental burnout. Other symptoms include: feeling like you live in a fog, finding it hard to remember dates or times and forgetting who you are as a person.
Unhealthy side affects
Unchecked, burnout syndrome can lead to depression, heart disease, obesity, sleep disorder and diabetes. It can turn a person from someone who is productive and satisfied with someone who is tuning out and in survival mode. Sadly, parent burnout can lead to an increase in verbal violence and physical violence on children.
How to avoid it
First, practice self-care. Asking and accepting help from others is okay. Value what keeps you healthy. Find one activity that keeps you sane and strong and no matter how busy you are, make it happen. Music, reading, hiking, movies, knitting or whatever you choose, stick to it. Literally…take a break from your kids. Second, let things go. If there is a dirty dish in the sink or a sock on the floor when everyone comes home, that is okay too. Focus on what is important, the rest can wait. Lastly, learn to say no. Reduce your responsibilities and commitments to a manageable level. This also means limiting the extra-curricular activities so more time is spent together at home.
You are worth it. Your children are worth it. You deserve to enjoy this season of life and your kids deserve to see a parent who enjoys life and who takes good care of herself. Don’t wait until you burnout. -Avital
Carrie Kube is a Director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the Board and/or its community partners.