“Parenting is hard as f$%k!”
I know, I know…my language. But seriously, if you’ve never thought this to yourself, screamed this into a pillow or whispered this (or some variation of the phrase) under your breath then are you really even a parent?
Being responsible for the well being of your little ones can be mentally and physically exhausting. After all, we’re their EVERYTHING and they depend on us for every single thing that they need. And while I doubt that we typically stop to think about this fact on a daily basis, the reality of it can be a heavy burden to carry. Prioritizing the needs of your babies means that sometimes your needs are put on the back burner and doing this enough will eventually lead to PARENTAL BURNOUT.
Parental burnout surpasses your typical need for “Me Time“ at the end of the day or you and your significant other biting at the bit for a date night. Parental burnout can lead to you feeling as if you’re unable to parent at all and can be dangerous not only to your wellbeing but the wellbeing of your babies as well.
Signs of Parental Burnout
• You feel inadequate as a parent.
•You feel all “touched out”
• You constantly feel drained or tired.
• You don’t feel an emotional connection to your child.
• You are always in a terrible mood.
•You experience trouble sleeping.
•You are showing addictive behaviors.
•You are experiencing suicidal thoughts or an urge to escape.
•You are at risk of violent or neglectful behaviors toward your children.
One of the first red flags that I experienced from this list was feeling “touched out.” I remember telling my husband that I just needed time to myself where no one was touching me. Having a 5 month old, I was feeling overwhelmed from constantly nursing and having a baby in my arms. And I was tired of being climbed all over like a jungle gym by my toddler. I just wanted my own space.
In addition to this I was having trouble sleeping, felt constantly tired and did not feel like I was doing well as a mommy. My daughter was extremely fussy from teething and caring for her felt like I was being neglectful to my son. I didn’t understand how I could feel like I was doing so much and at the same time doing nothing right. It was exhausting.
Solutions To Parental Burnout
•Ask for help.
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! Now this is easier said than done, I know. I hardly ever ask for help, especially concerning my kids. (I swear that I can do it all until nothing gets done.) I also know that not all of us have a ton of people that we can turn to on a regular basis to help us out. But even having a friend over to hold the baby while you fold laundry is a stress reliever or planning a play date to get the kids out the house and you some fresh air. You’d be surprised at who is willing to help when you just ask.
•Practice self-love and compassion.
Wow, it is amazing how hard we are on ourselves as parents. Seriously. We do not give ourselves enough credit. We take care of actual mini humans day in and day out while dealing with our own personal stresses and the pressures of adulthood. We’re superheroes! But it’s hard to see it that way when you’re right in the thick of it, covered in baby spit up staring at a floor full of toys that you just cleaned up five seconds ago. But I promise you’re doing great and not getting every box on your To-do list checked off is not the end of the world. (I’m speaking to myself too.) Give yourself grace.
•Establish structure and routine in your home.
This is so necessary not only for you but for your babies as well! As chaotic as kids may seem, they actually crave routine. It helps them feel secure knowing what to expect similarly to us as adults. Big changes throw them off, just like us. So establishing a routine, even a loose one helps their mental well-being as well as yours. Whenever I’m feeling burnt out I can directly connect it to a routine change. The kids aren’t napping, my husband is working more hours, bedtime routine is nonexistent. Something is usually off. Develop a routine so you can provide some order to the chaos that is parenthood.
•Find friends that are parents.
You know that Will Smith song, “Parents Just Don’t Understand“? He was wrong, terribly terribly wrong. Parents understand and you need friends that are parents. Ten out of ten, highly recommend.
Who else knows the woes of a tantruming toddler like another parent? They fully embrace and support your love affair with coffee. They understand why it’s 2pm and you and your kids are still in your pajamas and they don’t mind that nine times out of ten you’ll probably have some sort of stain on your clothes that you can’t track the origin to. Parents are my people.
•Seek out professional help.
This is honestly the most important because sometimes Parental Burnout can lead to thoughts and feelings that you can no longer control on your own. If you have feelings that may lead to self harm or harming your babies, you need to seek help from a healthcare professional. No you are not alone and you are not crazy. Mental health in parenthood is not something that is spoken about enough because of the stigma surrounding it. But seeking help for dangerous thoughts and feelings before they turn into actions is one of the bravest things that you can do.
•SAMHSA Help Line : 1 800 662 HELP (4357)
• National Suicide Prevention: 1 800 273 TALK (8255) They also have a Live Chat.