Parental burnout is a syndrome by which parents experience general exhaustion and high levels of stress. Back in the 80s, when this term became known, it referred to parents of children with severe health problems, who inevitably would become emotionally exhausted and drained.
Nowadays, the term parental burnout is used to encompass all parents who experience chronic physical, mental and emotional stress as a result of their parenting activities. Covid-19 has contributed immensely to parents’ fatigue, as they found themselves adjusting overnight to the task of working and taking care of their kids at the same time.
Although the United States has lifted most of the pandemic restrictions, parents never had a chance of recovering from 2020 burnout, and the threat of a new variant always seems just around the corner, which has parents feeling even more stressed and uncertain.
The symptoms of parental burnout include anxiety, depression, lack of confidence in parenting abilities, forgetfulness, irritability, and feelings of emotional distance. Fortunately, mental health experts have been giving advice on how to deal with this syndrome in a healthy and mature way.
Every parent should get a chance to disconnect and enjoy some alone time, doing something they enjoy. In the case of one-parent families, it is advisable to ask for outside help and support, be it a relative or hiring a professional. As much as one hour a day can make a huge difference.
Rest and sleep
Resting your body and your mind is crucial, and parents should do it every chance they get. So, don’t feel guilty for taking an afternoon nap. Also, parents should not overwork themselves late into the night. Lack of sleep makes anyone irritable, so try to respect healthy work-life boundaries.
Moving your body is always important, pandemic or not. Exercise lifts your mood and helps you release pent-up energy. You can share this activity with your kids as well, going for a walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood.
Build a support net
Talk with other parents who could be going through the same as you. Listen to them and brainstorm ideas together. Also, whenever possible and necessary, talk to a mental health professional, it will help you feel secure in your decisions and stick to them.
Create a routine
It is always easier for kids to assimilate things that they can anticipate. Plan a routine with them where you include time for play, time for exercise, and time for resting. Make sure to explain it to them, give them examples, and try to stick to it as much as possible.
Also, plan for days when unexpected things happen that can get you sidetracked. It is much easier to explain difficult things to children when you can reference back to the day you planned for it, reminding them that this was also a possibility.
Reason with your kids
They understand a lot more than you think. It is ok to admit to them when you feel tired and want to rest. Make sure to be kind and explain how you are feeling, but also ask them how they are feeling as well. Take this as an opportunity to build an honest and trusting relationship with them, to forge healthy and strong future adults.