How to Recover from Parental Burnout
Parenting is a powerful, overwhelming, and complicated experience. Your kids bring so much joy and purpose into your life, but caring for them can also test your limits. When you run yourself ragged without receiving enough support, the exhaustion may start to creep in. You love your children unconditionally, but you’re so tired that you feel like you could break down at any moment.
Many parents try to hide when they’re struggling, so parental burnout is more common than you might think. Burnout often affects new parents who are adjusting to the responsibility of caring for a child. You may also be at risk of parental burnout if you’ve recently lost a major source of support or if your family is going through a crisis. Whenever you give all of your energy to your children without finding opportunities to care for yourself, your mental health can suffer.
Burnout is not a sustainable state of being. If you’re mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausted, it’s time to make a change. Recovering from your burnout is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
Here Are Seven Important Steps to Take If You’re Suffering from Parental Burnout
1. Be Compassionate with Yourself
Self-criticism is one of the biggest contributors to poor mental health in parents. If you struggle with self-doubt, you may tell yourself that your parental burnout is your fault. Especially in the age of social media, we’re constantly bombarded with parenting tips and images of seemingly perfect families. In reality, though, the perfect parent does not exist. Everyone is vulnerable to burnout, and feeling exhausted is a normal response to the immense pressures put on parents.
Practicing self-compassion is the key to preventing or recovering from parental burnout. Allow yourself to experience your emotions without judgment. You’re doing the best you can with your current circumstances, and you deserve to be kind to yourself.
2. Get Some Rest
Parents should never underestimate the importance of sleep. As a parent, you probably can’t get a full night of quality sleep every single day. However, getting enough rest should be near the top of your list of priorities. Lack of sleep leads to mental and emotional exhaustion, which greatly reduces your ability to handle stress. The smallest problems can feel devastating when you’re sleep deprived. When necessary, let some of your tasks go unfinished in favor of getting a good night of sleep.
3. Take Small Breaks Throughout the Day
One common contributor to parental burnout is overstimulation. You’re constantly listening to chatter from your family and looking around to keep an eye on your kids. Your body and mind are always on the go, which can quickly lead to severe stress and anxiety.
To give your nervous system a break, seek out moments of peace and quiet throughout your day. Even a few minutes of deep breathing or listening to your favorite song in a quiet environment can feel incredibly refreshing. You might have to shut yourself in the bathroom or sit in your car for a few extra minutes to find this peace and quiet, but any opportunity to give yourself a break is worth it.
4. Allow Yourself to Let Things Go
Parents who experience burnout often report that they have a never-ending to-do list that’s constantly running through their mind. If you put pressure on yourself to be the perfect parent, you might try to juggle hundreds of tasks to make sure nothing gets overlooked. In most cases, though, there simply isn’t enough time to do everything you’re pressuring yourself to do.
To cut back on your stress, try to consciously choose certain tasks to let go of. If you have more important priorities tonight than washing the dishes, don’t stress yourself out about washing the dishes. If you don’t have the time or energy to make something for the school bake sale, give yourself permission to let that task go. Instead of letting these things sit in the back of your mind taunting you, accept that they’re not your priority and that you’re not going to worry about them. No parent can manage every single task that’s thrown their way, and it’s perfectly fine to pick and choose what gets done.
5. Ask for Help
Burnout often happens when you’re trying to manage all the responsibilities of parenting without any support. Everyone needs help from their support system, though. If you’re going through burnout, reach out to family, friends, or your community. If you don’t have a strong support system, look for parent groups or other networks in your area to connect with. People are usually happy to help, especially when they can empathize with the exhaustion you’re facing.
6. Include Your Kids in Your Hobby
Taking time to enjoy your hobbies is an excellent way to avoid and reduce parental burnout. You probably dedicate most of your available hours to your children, so you might struggle to find time to engage in your own favorite activities. If possible, though, you could include your kids in your hobbies. This could be a great opportunity to teach them a new skill while also bonding over a fun experience.
7. Talk to a Therapist
Recovering from parental burnout on your own can be challenging. If you’re struggling to find ways to relieve your chronic stress and exhaustion, therapy for parents may help. Your counselor will work with you to discover the root causes of your burnout, and they’ll help you figure out the changes you need to make to reduce your stress.
Therapy for parents is also highly effective for addressing anxious or self-critical thoughts. Parents who worry that they’re not doing enough for their families can benefit greatly from speaking with a counselor. Working through your negative thinking habits in therapy will help you develop a stronger sense of self-compassion, which can reduce emotional burnout and fatigue.
Menachem Psychotherapy Group offers therapy for parents in Los Angeles who are struggling with burnout. We understand how exhausting parenting can be, but we can help you find the skills and strategies that allow you to maintain good mental health. Reach out to us today to connect with a therapist in Los Angeles.