Being a parent is a wonderful, life-altering experience, but it can also be incredibly tough! Parents today are under a lot of pressure to juggle work, family life and social commitments, without admitting that they may be struggling. This means, life can get pretty darn stressful; particularly if there never seems to be enough hours in the day.
If you’re wondering where that fun-loving, optimistic parent you used to be went, you could be on the verge of a parent burnout. The trouble is, if you do reach the point of burning out, it’s going to have a lot of negative repercussions on your health and well-being.
The good news is, there are ways to prevent parent burnout, even when you’re close to the edge! Here, we’ll look at some of the top ways to tell when you’re heading for parent burnout, and the things you can do to stop it.
Understanding The Symptoms Of Parent Burnout
It’s important to learn the signs of a burnout in order to avoid them. The good news is, there are lots of symptoms which can warn you of an impending burnout and we’ll look at some of the most common ones below.
Emotional Symptoms – Some of the first symptoms of parent burnout are emotional. You’ll start to feel more irritable, or angry; even at the smallest of things. You may feel powerless and bored, despite having a lot of things left to do. You’ll also start to lose interest in your social life, and you may find yourself starting to feel the symptoms of depression.
These emotional symptoms can be really subtle, but over time as you near a burnout, you’ll find they increase in severity.
Behavioral Symptoms – The emotional changes you start to experience can in turn lead to behavioral changes. You may start to isolate yourself and withdraw from responsibilities. Your sex drive is also likely to take a hit, and you may start to take everything out on those around you. In a bid to forget about your problems, it may also be tempting to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol or food and you may become more unreliable.
Physical Symptoms – Along with emotional and behavioral changes, you may experience some physical symptoms too. A feeling of constant fatigue is common with burnout, as is insomnia. Your immune system will also suffer, making you more likely to develop illnesses and experience frequent flu-like symptoms.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of symptoms you can watch out for. Your body always tries to tell you when something’s wrong; especially if it’s burning out. So, if you find you have numerous symptoms listed above, now’s the time to take action.
Best Ways To Prevent Getting Burnt Out
When you feel yourself starting to become burnt out, it’s important to start taking preventative measures. There are a number of ways you can prevent getting burnt out as a parent.
Firstly, if you’re already experiencing a lot of burnt out symptoms, you’ll want to start by asking for help. See if a friend, family member or your partner, can step in to look after the kids while you get some much-needed rest. It’s important to have at least one day a week where you can take some “you” time. Obviously, not everyone has the option to take time out for themselves for an entire day. So, you could split it down into half an hour each day, or whatever works for you.
Another great tip is to take the stress out of your morning routine. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and try to prepare things the night before whenever possible. That way, instead of rushing around when you wake up, you can have a more leisurely start to the day. You could start a relaxing morning ritual, such as writing in a journal or doing a little gentle stretching.
Making sure you’re eating a healthy diet is also going to help. This will give you the energy required to keep up with the kids and get everything done that you need to in the day. Regular exercise will also help to boost your energy levels, as well as leave you feeling much happier.
You may also want to try taking a technology time-out. Spending time away from a screen, doing something more creative is a great way to avoid burnout. You could take up painting, gardening or knitting for example. These types of activities can eliminate stress and give the mind something healthy to focus on.
Basically, anything you can do to reduce your stress levels and take a break is a great idea!
What To Do If You’re Already Burnt Out
If you’re already burnt out, it’s crucial you take a break. If you don’t, there’s the chance you could become seriously ill. This wouldn’t be great for you or your children. So, take a step back and be kind to yourself.
Try not to isolate yourself either. You’re going to need plenty of support from friends and family while you’re recovering. Even just talking about the situation and how you are feeling can have positive benefits.
You can use the time you’ve taken to rest, to evaluate your goals and to see where you can make improvements in your life to eliminate stress. Figure out what’s important to you and what you need to do in order to feel happier and to get healthier.
Sometimes a parent burnout can be a fab opportunity to reflect and make changes for the better. The key thing to remember, is that you can’t push through burnout. Trying to ignore it will only make it worse, not better. So, if you recognize the signs of a parent burnout, act now to avoid it seriously damaging you health and well-being.