If you're a parent, you've probably at some point experienced parenting burnout. Your weekends away from work may be filled with activities for your kids from sports games, to play dates, and even Sunday school. Between all that there can be standoffs you have with a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum, and negotiations on how to get your kids to bed.
If you work throughout the week, it may seem like you're never getting a moment to switch your brain off from work, and if you're a stay at home mom, it could feel as if you're working on call 24/7. At some point, the buildup of parenting responsibilities can make us hit a wall. Many parents now have this internal pressure to be a superhero and to do it all. Be a boss and a parent at the same time while cooking every meal throughout the week and staying social in the evenings. All of this pressure and responsibilities can make you feel like you're losing your mind.
Parenting burnout is real, but so are the solutions to help you find your balance. To help you cope with the stress that comes from parenting, I've outline the signs that you could be experiencing burnout, and how to fix them.
- Losing your ability to concentrate: Specifically on work tasks like you used to. When you're experiencing burnout – this can turn into chronic stress which can lead to a lack of mental clarity and other cognitive issues.
- Losing control: Feeling as if you have zero control of any outcome, and almost as if you never have a say in what is happening in your day to day life.
- Feeling as if you're never doing enough : Between your own parenting instincts and everything you read in articles, you may feel like there's always some new form of parenting that you aren't quite getting right.
- Lack of feeling accomplished: Feeling as if you aren't making any progress with your own life's goals outside of being a parent.
- A loss of energy: Feeling as if you never have any energy to socialize, or rarely experiencing energy at all. Constant exhaustion is an extremely clear sign of burnout- and it can be a blend of physical, mental and emotional fatigue.
- Never feeling rewarded: Parenting can be a thankless job. This could leave you feeling like you're being taken for granted or that all of your efforts are not recognized.
- No room for self-care: Not making self-care or "me" time a priority.
- Irritability and frustration: Feeling extra irritable and experiencing a short temper with your kids and spouse.
Steps you can take to reverse your burnout:
- Don't strive for perfection: Trying to be perfect at everything is self-destructive and sets yourself up for failure. You may always feel like you're never doing things the right way, and that's OK. A lot of us put such a focus on being perfect because we are afraid to fail as parents. Instead, focus on doing your best
- Prioritize your mental and physical wellbeing: Make sure you create non-negotiables throughout the day such as making time to work out, eat nutrient dense meals, and get enough sleep. Also taking breaks throughout the work day to take walks around the block, or standing up to stretch your legs.
- Take a break : Typically when you are experiencing burnout – you are overworked, overstimulated, and reaching your mental capacity. It might sound scary to take a break when there seems to be never ending parental duties, but the results can make a significant impact on reversing your feelings of burnout. Taking time for yourself for a quick yoga class to reset your mind, detach from responsibilities can help you come back to your parenting mindset with more confidence and clarity. This could also be the ideal time to rediscover your passions and creativity. Have your partner watch the kids while you break free for a class or even hire a babysitter if you want to connect with your spouse on a date night.
- Listen to your body: When you are feeling mentally or physically fatigued, take a break. Don't try to power through and work through these signals your body is giving you. If you are experiencing frequent headaches or stomachaches, these could be manifestations from stress.
- Get organized: By putting some time management and project management systems in place, your day can become more structured which can lead to less feelings of constant stress. I know it can be hard to follow routines when kids have consistent needs throughout the day that can change suddenly, but having some sort of guidance can help you feel more put together.
With these tips you can better understand how to recognize when you're experiencing parenting burnout, and how to reverse it! What can you do today to reset your mind and bring more balance to your life?
About the author: Dr. Tenisha White
Dr. Tenisha White is a Clinical Psychologist at ClarityChi.com. In 2005 she earned her first Master's degree in mental health counseling at Loyola University New Orleans. In 2010 Dr. White returned back home to Chicago to pursue her doctorate degree at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she obtained a second Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016.
Dr. White has experience in providing individual, family, couples and group therapy for a wide range of individuals with diverse backgrounds. Dr. White's areas of clinical focus include adjustment issues, mood and anxiety disorders, academic issues, family issues, relationship issues and behavior issues. She has a dedication to being involved in the community and has provided workshops for community programs and employers, which include stress management, conflict resolution, improving communication skills, understanding depression and developing effective coping skills.
Written by Dr. Tenisha White for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.