Burnout is not a new phenomenon. Knowing what it is, the warning signs of burnout and what to do if you or someone around you appears to be headed in that direction is vital to avoiding and managing the problem. Parental burnout is an increasing problem in today’s society as the pressures of being successful at work, maintaining a lovely home and packing a full family life into the weekends increase.
Burnout is the result of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, which typically lasts longer than three months. It is more than simply feeling stressed or worn out several times over a long period, it is characterised by constant feelings of exhaustion with little or no relief from it. Our psychologist emphasises the importance of recognising the following signs of parental burnout:
- Continual exhaustion
- Feeling inefficient
- Feeling emotionally distant from children (and other family members)
- Decision fatigue: the inability to make simple decisions confidently
- Irrationally irritated over minor situations
- Feeling no self-value or worth as a parent
Parental burnout can be a result of exhaustion caused by continual exposure to emotionally or physically demanding situations over a prolonged period. We noticed that one of the most common threads among our clients is a fear of asking for help. “It seems to be a common thread that admitting they are burnt-out means judgment of not being able to cope. We all need help at some stage or another, and learning to ask for help is a sign of strength not a sign of weakness or inability to cope.”
Getting to the root cause of parental burnout is the first step in managing it and recovering from it. A number of areas should be looked at when trying to determine the cause/trigger:
- Has a recent event caused increased stress levels that you are struggling to manage?
- Are your parenting expectations unrealistic?
- Are you too self-critical when things don’t go according to plan?
- Do you adapt to changing environments or could a change in your family life have caused unanticipated levels of stress for which you were unprepared?
- Do you have a support system in place that can help you when you need it?
- Are you willing to ask your support system for help?
If you identify with the above, drop us a message to see how we can help. The key to recovery is finding the solution and the process that is right for you. The main difficulty with parental burnout compared with work-related burnout is that we can’t simply take a break from parenting to recover, making it even more important for parents to develop coping mechanisms, build resilience and practice self-care. Give us a call, let us help you.