Parental Burnout: 5 Tips to Make it Stop
When it comes to parenting, it is a whole new world out there.
The lack of social support, social pressures to create perfect children, working families, unemployment, financial insecurity, and a lack of balance are just a few of the factors associated with an increased risk for parental burnout. If you are struggling with overwhelm, you are not alone. In these post-pandemic times, it is estimated that 20 percent of parents are experiencing parental burnout. These rates jump for parents of children who have chronic illnesses. But what can you do to reduce your risk for burnout? Find out in this blog by the pediatric team at Rainbow Pediatrics.
Parental burnout isn’t a new concept. The first mentions of it go back to the late 70s where it was linked to parents who had autistic children. It worsened during the pandemic where it impacted over 60% of parents. These parents were often still working and trying to balance work while caring for their children around the clock. But research shows that parental burnout remains a problem.
Parental burnout often begins as exhaustion – both physically and emotionally. Life as a parent is meant to be rewarding and fulfilling, but the pressures toward perfection cause guilt, shame and distress in many homes. This wears down parents, affects sleep, and can impact diet. Later, emotional distancing occurs. If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, it is difficult to engage with others. Next, parents may feel a loss of fulfillment and pleasure in parenting.
Look around you. At least 2 in every 10 parents are struggling with burnout. But there are things that can be done to help stop the snowball effect.
- Stop socially prescribed perfectionism. The need for kids to be the best students and athletes is a major issue. Another is the need for parents to be highly active in their kid’s lives – from PTA and girl/boy scout leaders, to classroom helpers and more. The stressors associated with this kind of perfectionism doesn’t just impact the parents. The children are impacted too. Parents striving for perfection are often more anxious and controlling, which is linked to poorly adjusted children. Step back and let kids experience life. Share stories of your own failures with the kids. Praise their efforts rather than the outcome.
- Find your tribe. You are not alone. Find your tribe of people you can talk openly and honestly about the struggles you are facing. Often, when you realize that others are struggling too, you feel less isolated, so let yourself be vulnerable.
- Ask for help. Many families who are struggling with parental burnout are not geographically near other family members who can support them. If this is you, help can come from friends, trusted neighbors, and babysitters. Your pediatric team is also available to help with support.
- Learn to say no and don’t feel bad for doing so. If you are a people pleaser, you may find yourself saying yes when you should be saying no. Take inventory of your life. If you are too busy to take time for yourself, do not add to your burden by saying yes to others. Feel good about saying no because it means you are taking care of yourself and your family. And let kids see you saying no when it is the right thing to do and yes when it is conducive to volunteer your time. Teach children that it is okay to say no.
- Model self love. Kids want to see their parents caring for themselves. We understand that this may be difficult when kids are young and fully dependent on parents. But that’s where the “ask for help” rule comes into play. Be a little selfish and take time for yourself. Don’t let your children dictate your happiness. Find joy in reading a book, exercising, spending time with friends, and meeting new people. Modeling self love will show your children that it is also important for them to do the same. Break the cycle of self destruction by loving yourself.