Parental Burnout: What It Is and What to Do About It

burnt out mom with kids playing in background

No one said that parenting was easy. However, things can get overwhelming even for the most stress-resistant parent. You feel exhausted, you snap at your partner and kids, and you wake up each day dreading the list of tasks you have to get through. All of these are signs of parental burnout. If this relates to you, then read on about how you can cure your burnout and prevent it from ever happening again.

Signs and symptoms of parental burnout

Understanding the symptoms of burnout can help you spot the warning signs early on. While burnout affects everyone differently, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Constantly feeling exhausted, tired, or drained
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and self-doubt
  • Irritability, snapping at others frequently
  • Isolating yourself from others, especially your kids
  • Changes in appetite and/or sleeping patterns
  • Headaches, neck pain, and muscle aches

According to the American Psychological Association, the first phase of burnout typically involves overwhelming exhaustion. If it is not addressed, then burned-out parents will begin to feel irritable and start distancing themselves from their kids.

How to cope with parental burnout

So, you’re feeling burnt out. You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and irritable. But what can you do about it? Unlike with burnout associated with jobs or school, you can’t take a vacation from being a parent. However, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. There are plenty of things you can do to cope:

Talk with your partner

The first thing you should do is have a talk with your partner (or a loved one if you are a single parent). Explain to them how you feel and what you’re dealing with and see if they can take steps to help you and lighten your load.

Take care of your health

When we get stressed, we let our physical health decline. We don’t eat as much as we should, we sleep less, we don’t exercise, and more. Unfortunately, this only worsens our feelings of burn out. As such, you need to get your physical health in order if you want your mental health to improve.

Change your perspective

We may not be able to change our situation, but we can change how we perceive it. Break your problems down into smaller, more manageable parts so they don’t seem so overwhelming. Additionally, shift your focus from the things you can’t control to the things you can control. These changes may seem minor, but they can improve your outlook.

Let it out

Bottling up all those emotions will do you no good. They’ll eventually burst out of you, often in the worst ways possible. Instead, let out your thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, or write it out in a journal.

Reduce your workload

You can’t do everything. So, when things get to be too much, it’s time to prioritize your tasks. Make a list of the things that must be done, and then a list of things that can wait. Then, only focus on the first list, breaking your tasks up as much as you can. If you still can’t do everything on your “must-do” list, then turn to your support network to help lighten the load.

Take a break

If you can go on a vacation or weekend getaway, then great. But most parents can’t do this, especially during a pandemic. So, find time each day just for yourself where you can do anything you’d like. You can do this for a half-hour or hour while your children are at school. If they’re not old enough for school, yet, then ask your partner or another family member to keep an eye on them while you take some time to decompress.  

Talk to a mental health professional

You’ve done everything you can to cope with your burnout, yet you’re still feeling overwhelmed. In these times, it’s best to turn to a mental health professional who can provide you with a plan to get back on-track.

At Steadfast Academy, we believe it’s essential for both parents and children to take care of their mental health. To learn more about us and our mission, contact us today!