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Being a parent is an incredible and fulfilling journey, but it can also be demanding and tiring. As parents, balancing caregiving responsibilities with your limited time, energy, and resources often leaves you with little opportunity to prioritise your well-being. This can lead to parents feeling burned out.
The past couple of years have tested parents’ resiliency like never before. You may feel you are constantly fighting against the current and doing less than you would like for your child. But here’s the thing – you’re not alone in experiencing parental burnout.
Research has found that parental burnout is a widespread issue that can be found throughout cultures and communities across the world. Moreover, a study conducted by Action for Children revealed that a staggering 82% of parents in the UK experienced indicators of parental burnout.
This statistic highlights how many parents feel overwhelmed and stretched thin during these trying times. In this blog, we explore what you can do to help support you and prevent burnout so you can feel more empowered and energised to be the best you can be for your child.
Understanding What Being Burned Out As a Parent Means
Parental burnout is distinct from regular parenting stress, as it goes beyond the typical challenges of being a parent. While parenting stress is a common and unavoidable part of raising children, parental burnout occurs when this stress becomes chronic and severely depletes your coping resources.
Being a parent involves dealing with various daily challenges, such as homework and chores. Parents may also face intense stressors like tantrums and conflicts between siblings. Furthermore, they may have to manage long-term issues like behavioural problems or health concerns. If parents consistently lack the necessary resources to handle these stressors, they become vulnerable to parental burnout.
Parental burnout occurs when there is an ongoing imbalance between the challenges of parenting and your available resources. It is characterised by extreme exhaustion resulting in detachment from one’s children and doubts about one’s ability to be a good parent.
Parents experiencing burnout feel so overwhelmed that even the mere thought of their parental role leaves them feeling completely drained. Consequently, they become emotionally distant from their children and gradually disengage from the relationship. If you want to be more emotionally available for your child, read our blog here.
How Can You Tell If You’re Experiencing Parental Burnout?
Burnout, traditionally associated with work-related stress, has now gained recognition as a pressing issue in the home environment for burned-out parents. The struggle to balance work and family responsibilities significantly contributes to parental burnout. As parents juggle multiple responsibilities and try to meet the demands of their families and work lives, parents often experience physical exhaustion, emotional fatigue, and a sense of being overwhelmed.
The constant pressure to manage household chores, childcare, and personal obligations can also affect their well-being. Parents must acknowledge that burnout extends beyond the workplace and seek support and self-care strategies to prevent or address this increasingly prevalent issue.
Parental burnout is characterised by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion experienced by parents due to chronic stress and overwhelming responsibilities. It can significantly negatively affect both parents’ well-being and the quality of their parenting. Studies have shown that parental burnout is associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression. Recognising the signs and taking proactive steps to prevent burnout is crucial for maintaining good mental health.
Lessons Learned from the Other 20% Who Are Not Burned Out
Being a parent is an incredibly demanding role, and understandably, some parents may struggle to prioritise self-care due to limited time. Finding a balance between caring for your children and caring for yourself can be challenging.
However, taking the time to focus on your well-being will benefit not just you but your child. Parental burnout can significantly impact children’s emotional and behavioural development. When parents experience burnout, they may have less patience and energy to interact positively with their children.
Increased family conflict can arise due to parental burnout, affecting the overall atmosphere at home. Children may perceive and internalise stress from burnt-out parents, negatively affecting their emotional well-being.
Parental burnout can also lead to inconsistent parenting practices, which may contribute to behavioural difficulties in children. Prioritising self-care and addressing parental burnout can create a more positive and nurturing environment for children.
While each parent’s demands may differ, parents who are not experiencing burnout incorporate these simple strategies for managing their well-being amidst the responsibilities of parenthood. We explore some strategies for reconnecting with your teen in this blog.
They Prioritise & Reframe Self-Care:
Putting your needs last and viewing self-care as something that detracts from parenting responsibilities or ranks low on priorities is a common mindset among parents and caregivers. However, prioritising self-care is not selfish.
Parents prioritising self-care tend to experience less self-criticism, improved physical and mental health, enhanced parenting skills, better focus on tasks even in challenging situations, and overall greater enjoyment of parenting. It’s important to recognise that self-care is more than just an optional extra; it’s a crucial skill that benefits parents and children.
Taking care of yourself allows you to recharge and better support your children. Prioritise self-care activities such as exercise, getting enough sleep, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy.
Here are some simple ideas that can help parents unwind and find moments of tranquillity amidst the daily chaos:
Go for a leisurely walk or jog in nature, allowing the soothing sounds and sights to wash away any stress. Practising mindfulness or meditation can provide a peaceful escape from the demands of the day.
If you prefer quiet solitude, curling up with a good book or listening to your favourite music can transport you to another world, offering a much-needed break from reality. Engaging in a hobby like painting, gardening, or playing a musical instrument can be incredibly rewarding and provide an outlet for creative expression.
Consider savouring a cup of tea or coffee while enjoying some precious moments of stillness. Writing in a journal or exploring creative writing can be therapeutic avenues for reflection and self-expression. If you enjoy culinary adventures, trying out new recipes and cooking a delicious meal just for yourself can be both satisfying and enjoyable.
Another way is to catch up and share laughter, which can comfort and uplift your mood. Our interconnected world has made connecting with friends or loved ones easier through phone calls or video chats. And, of course, there’s always the option to unwind with your favourite movie or TV show—a perfect way to escape into captivating storytelling.
These simple activities offer an opportunity to nurture yourself as a parent with much-deserved self-care moments. Prioritising these small but meaningful experiences will benefit you and allow you to show up as the best version of yourself for your family.
They have established clearly defined Boundaries:
It can be incredibly challenging for parents to balance work and family responsibilities, especially when facing parental burnout. The constant juggling act between work and family commitments can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally drained. However, establishing clear boundaries can be crucial in mitigating the effects of parental burnout.
Establishing a schedule can help create structure and balance in your life. Set specific times for work tasks, family time, mealtime, and personal activities. Stick to this schedule as much as possible to maintain boundaries between work and family. Consider setting boundaries around technology use to ensure uninterrupted quality time with your family.
Establish device-free zones or specific times when you disconnect from work-related notifications to engage with your loved ones fully. Practice saying no without guilt when additional commitments exceed your reasonable expectations. Setting boundaries means understanding that declining extra responsibilities is okay if they compromise your well-being or time with your family.
By setting clear boundaries between your work and family life, you create dedicated time for your loved ones without distractions from work or other commitments. This means consciously allocating uninterrupted quality time to engage with your children, listen to their stories, and participate in activities together.
By doing so, you are nurturing a strong bond with your family and fostering a sense of connection that is vital for you and your children’s well-being. Remember that each parent’s circumstances are unique, so feel free to adapt these suggestions based on what works best for you and your family dynamics.
They have solid support systems:
Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. Reach out to family members, friends, or support groups who can offer assistance with childcare or provide emotional support during challenging times.
Seeking support can be a vital lifeline for parents experiencing parental burnout. It helps alleviate the burden and provides much-needed emotional support during challenging times. When parents reach out for help, they open themselves to receiving assistance and understanding from others who may have experienced similar situations.
Here are a few ways parents can find and build support systems:
One way to seek support is by reaching out to family members. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings can often lend a helping hand with childcare responsibilities. They can offer respite care, giving you time to rest and recharge. Additionally, family members may provide emotional support by listening empathetically and offering advice based on their experiences.
Another way to find support is through online communities. These communities offer a space where parents can connect with others going through similar challenges, providing a sense of validation and understanding. Through sharing their experiences and offering advice, online communities can provide practical strategies to cope with burnout.
Additionally, these communities often foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie, reminding parents they are not alone in their struggles. By receiving encouragement and empathy from fellow parents, you can find the emotional support you need to navigate the demanding journey of parenthood and overcome burnout.
At GT Scholars, we understand the importance and effectiveness of having a support system.
That’s why we have started a parent community on the GT Scholars Facebook page, designed to be a safe, welcoming, and supportive space where parents can connect, share insights, and learn from each other as we make our way through the parenting journey! You can access the parent community on our Facebook page here.
Lastly, support groups geared toward parental advice and support can provide a safe space for parents to share their struggles and receive guidance from others going through similar challenges. These groups often offer virtual and in-person meetings where parents can connect with others who understand their situation.
Parenting support groups through local organisations:
Many local communities have support groups specifically tailored to the needs of parents. These groups may be facilitated by organisations such as family centres or mental health charities. NHS Parenting Groups: The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) often organises parenting groups or courses covering various aspects of parenthood. These sessions can provide valuable information and an opportunity to connect with other parents.
In summary, seeking support is crucial for parents experiencing parental burnout. Whether turning to family members or seeking help from friends and support groups, reaching out allows parents to find relief and gain the emotional support they need to navigate difficult times.
Remember, you are not alone in experiencing parental burnout. By implementing these tips and being proactive in preventing burnout, you can create a healthier and more balanced life for yourself and your family.