Parenting is a full-time job, and resigning is not an option. From late-night feedings to tantrums to a constant state of worry, raising your kids can be challenging. Naturally, as a parent, you are preoccupied with your children's needs. Many parents devote so much time and attention to their children that they overlook their own needs. As a result, many parents start feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed by parenting. This condition is known as parental burnout. Unfortunately, more and more parents are experiencing it, especially after the Covid era. So, let's see what you should know about parental burnout and how to deal with it.
What is parental burnout?
Parental burnout is defined as the "physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by the constant stress of parenting." Generally, burnout is the outcome of extended stress in which an individual's capacity to meet expectations outweighs their ability to fulfill those demands. In this case, that's parenting.
Parental burnout causes exhaustion, emotional estrangement from your children, and a perception of being a bad or useless parent. Unfortunately, these impacts might have a severe effect on your mental health.
The good news is that parental burnout is just a temporary condition. There are things you can do to battle and deal with this condition. Therefore, let's get into everything you should know about parental burnout so you can find a good way to cope with it.
Signs that indicate you're burned out
Before we guide you through the process of coping with parental burnout, let's start with learning to recognize the symptoms of this exhaustion syndrome. Now, every person experiences burnout differently. Some parents experience negative changes on a physical level, while others struggle emotionally. However, there are several common symptoms that almost every parent encounters. Let's see what they are:
Exhaustion, or constantly feeling tired or depleted
Powerlessness, hopelessness, or self-doubt
Headaches, neck pain, and muscular pains
Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
Alienation, or a sense of being alone in the world
The mental health consequences of parental burnout can impact your overall health. As burnout continues, hormonal imbalances may develop, resulting in diminished sex drive. Chronic sleep deprivation raises your chances of significant health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Elevated stress levels might also increase your chances of developing severe health problems.
How to cope with parental burnout
When it comes to things you should know about parental burnout, there is one thing you can never forget - you are not a bad parent, and you are not a bad person! Whether you are on the verge of burnout or have already reached your breaking point, you need to know that you don't have to live like this. There are specific changes you can make in your life to overcome this awful situation.
Communicate your feelings
If you're feeling exhausted, one of the first things you should do is express your feelings to your spouse. Inform them that you may benefit from their assistance. One thing you need to keep in mind during this time is they can't read your mind, even if you've been together for years. On the other hand, speaking with a trusted friend or family member might be beneficial if you are a single parent.
Many parents fear their loved ones will judge them because they feel what they feel. They think it's embarrassing and unacceptable for a parent to feel this way. However, it's pretty common. Therefore, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Feel free to express your worries and anxieties. After all, your loved ones will rush to help you in any way possible. Tell them what you need and be completely honest.
Be careful what you eat and drink when you feel anxious
When you're weary to the point of being unable to function, you might seek comfort food like coffee or a doughnut. While these meals may give a momentary lift, they frequently result in an emotional crash. Instead, provide your body with nutritious foods. Incorporate a variety of lean protein, nourishing grains, fruits, and veggies into your daily diet. Choose lean proteins and fiber-rich carbs for snacks.
Seek professional help
If you're having a hard time opening up to your partner, friend, or family member, we suggest that you seek professional help. For some people, it's easier to talk about this problem to a stranger than to someone close. And this is entirely understandable.
You can book a session once a week or try counseling from your home if you have a baby that needs your attention 24/7. Many companies offer online therapy to young parents struggling with parental burnout. Therefore, choose the option that works best for you and go for it!
Physical activity can enhance your vitality and increase your body's feel-good chemicals. It can also aid in the reduction of stress and sadness. And no - you don't have to go to the gym every day to get some exercise. A ten-minute stroll around the block might help clear your mind and give you the energy to recharge and go on with your day. Being physically active and connected to nature can help you manage parental burnout.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for good mental health. However, getting adequate sleep might be difficult, especially if you have a baby or a young kid at home. The lack of sleep can cause additional stress and lead to parental burnout. Therefore, you need to prioritize it. Power naps of twenty minutes, for example, can be rejuvenating and stress-reducing. They can also help you focus and control your emotions better.
Stop feeling guilty
Don't feel bad about taking a few minutes to yourself or arranging the alone time for you and your spouse. It does not make you a poor parent to prioritize your personal needs sometimes. Self-care will help you be a better parent. In addition, taking care of yourself will ultimately lead to overcoming parental burnout. And isn't that the ultimate goal?
To sum up
Parenting is not easy on anyone, especially new parents. So, it's not uncommon if you're feeling overwhelmed on both physical and emotional levels. This is something many parents struggle with. In this article, we explained what you should know about parental burnout, how to handle it, and communicate your problem. The most important thing to remember is that you are not a bad parent because you're at your wit’s end. You're not alone, and with the right support, you will get through it.
Jessica Emsworth is a psychology major and content writer focusing on helping parents be the best version of themselves. She loves working with kids and has vast experience volunteering at a children's hospital. In her free time, Jessica enjoys traveling and exploring new places.