Being a parent is often a thankless task. As a mum of two, I always have an ongoing narrative in my head, annoyingly barking out reminders throughout the day. Boil an egg for the Beaver’s Easter event, pick up materials to recreate The Great Fire of London, defrost the chicken, draft presentation for work… none of it is laugh a minute stuff.
Whether you are a stay at home or a working parent it can feel like you are running on a treadmill of a never-ending tick list. A quick Google search brings up reams of funny memes showcasing the difficulties of being a parent. But at what point does this pressure tip the scales and become a problem, and not a laughing matter?
Parental Burnout: What is it?
Society tells us that we can have it all. Unfortunately, ‘having it all’ can mean that there is not enough space in life to enjoy any of these things. It can, instead, become an uphill march of completing tasks and events without ever having an opportunity for a breather. A parental burnout is when life becomes overwhelming, and you can no longer mentally or physically cope with the pressure.
Signs to look out for
- Withdrawing from social events
- Inability to sleep or suffering from sleep disorders
- Heightened anxiety, such as high blood pressure, dizziness or regular bouts of nausea
- Mood swings
- Emotional detachment
What can you do?
- Ask for help
If you feel that you are not coping, turn to those that can help you. It can be anything from asking another parent to pick your child up from school on a day you have too much on or, discussing any symptoms of anxiety or depression with a GP.
- Reach out to other parents
Most parents can relate to the pressures of family life. Talk to those around you and you may be surprised at how common these feelings are. One of the issues with society today, is that there is too much focus on projecting a positive and sometimes unrealistic picture to the world. This is turn can make others feel like they are suffering alone.
- Review your To Do list
Are you taking on too much? Is there any way that you can delegate some of the household chores or work tasks to another? Take a look at what you have on your plate right now and, try and focus on the necessities.
- Practise self-care
It does not need to be a spa break or anything too exotic but simply pausing for some ‘me time’. This will benefit not only yourself but also those around you. A well-rested parent is going to be a much more patient one. Try going for a walk and listening to some music or taking a relaxing bath to zone out of the everyday stresses of life.
We are taught that parenting is rewarding and fulfilling, which of course it is. The benefits of parenting far outweigh the negatives. It is, however, important to recognise that feelings of a burnout are not uncommon and there are times when life feels unmanageable. Parenting brings with it a unique set of challenges at every stage; from the new-born broken nights to the emotional ups and downs of teenager years. Stay strong and be kind to yourself. Most importantly, if you are beginning to struggle, reach out for help.