This episode is about Burnout in Parenting!
Some days, no matter how much sleep you’ve had, you feel exhausted!
And while you love and adore your children, you desperately need a break from parenting.
On top of feeling exhausted and needing a break, at the end of the day, there’s more work to be done and without feeling a sense of accomplishment.
If you can relate to this, then this episode about Burnout in Parenting is going to be very helpful!
Let me start by asking you a few questions.
Do you feel irritated, annoyed or stressed most days?
Do you find yourself snapping at your children, partner/spouse, friends or co-workers?
Do you feel exhausted most days regardless of how much rest and sleep you get?
Have you lost interest in doing activities you once enjoyed?
Do you have difficulty taking care of your children and find their needs overwhelming?
Do you believe you have to be perfect?
If you answered ‘yes’ to feeling exhausted most of the time and ‘yes’ to any other of the questions, you might be experiencing burnout.
After listening to this episode I want you to visit MomsWellbeing.com where you can take a detailed quiz which I developed and created, called Are You a Burned Out Mom? and Are You a Burned Out Dad?
The quiz is free and should take you about ten minutes or less to complete.
When you’re finished, you’ll be given personalized scores on your level of burnout and suggestions, skills and self-care strategies to help you decrease burnout and increase well-being.
Ok, let’s talk about burnout. I hear parents say and I’ve said it myself, I’m so burned out and I need a break.
Burnout is a syndrome, or state of being, that is chronic, characterized by:
- Exhaustion (Emotional and/or Physical)
- Having little or no sense of personal accomplishment
- Feeling disconnected from others
- Not feeling effective at your role and responsibilities
- Lack of empathy
- Use of Sarcasm, the hurtful, cynical kind of sarcasm
Burnout was a term coined decades ago by researchers who found this syndrome to cluster in helping professions; careers where people take care of other people.
Some examples of helping professions include nurses, social workers, physicians, psychologists, therapists, first responders such as police, rescue, and firefighters. What we do know from decades of research, if you are caring for and helping others, you could be at risk for burnout.
So how does burnout apply to parenting?
Being a mom or dad is the ultimate caring and helping profession!
Let’s face it being a parent is a 24-hour/7 day a week/yearly responsibility of nurturing, caring, protecting, supporting and doing all of the supporting roles as well; working, cleaning, shopping, cooking, chaffering, you name it!
And the work is never completed; there is always some role a mother and father provides to their child across a lifetime. Which contributes to the likelihood of parents experiencing burnout at some point in parenthood.
The good news is you can manage your level of stress and reduce the potential of experiencing burnout by increasing self-care.
The biggest sign of burnout for parents is exhaustion.
If you feel so tired during the day, regardless of how much sleep you had the night before, and all you can do is think about when you are going to get more sleep, this is exhaustion. Most parents experience exhaustion at some point, for example, caring for a newborn, the first year of their child’s life, and during the process of adoption. Sometimes we can identify where our stress is coming from: a change in job, partner/spouse traveling, demands caring for a sick child, financial stress, changes in support with friends and family, which can include conflict and fighting. However, if you are experiencing fatigue and exhaustion without being able to pinpoint the source, for example, getting up in the middle of the night to care for your child, then exhaustion from stress and not taking care of yourself adequately, could be the reason.
As parents, we all have challenging days when we experience some of the symptoms of burnout. The key here is to understand how often and for how long we experience the symptoms. Feeling exhausted and irritable every now and then in parenting is to be expected. But, if you find that you have these symptoms several times a week, for many weeks at a time, then this could signal serious stress. And you’ll need to develop coping skills to manage stress and decrease burnout.
And if symptoms of burnout aren’t treated, these symptoms can develop into a mental health issue, such as depression.
As a Clinical Psychologist and mother, I am constantly in roles of caring for people. I love my job, and I love my children. Sounds like a disclaimer, right? The truth is, sometimes, I am so exhausted from the amount of giving and nurturing in my life that I begin to notice symptoms of burnout in my own life. For me, burnout shows up with being overly tired, irritable and wanting to be alone. Taking care of my children, tolerating their moods, remember I have two teenagers in the house, and being around them can be so overwhelming when I am burned-out.
I watch carefully for the signs of burnout in my life.
Overtime, I have come to understand my subtle symptoms of burnout: such as drinking more than two cups of coffee a day to increase energy, feeling tearful after intense work weeks, especially when driving, and wasting time surfing the internet as a way to cope with stress.It is amazing how much time you can spend on Facebook and Instagram!
When I notice these behaviors in myself, I do more to take care of myself through exercise, yoga, getting enough rest and to reaching out to friends, family and co-workers. And, I also learn to say no to over-committing myself.
Take a moment and think about how symptoms of burnout shows up in your life.
Make a list and keep a mental note. If you can’t think of any symptoms, pay attention this week to how stress impacts you.
Try to notice patterns in your thinking or behavior which signal potential burnout.
Sometimes just paying attention to when you are doing too much can help you plan to organize your time differently.
So what do you do if you notice you are experiencing burnout?
1. Identify the source of stress.
2. Are you able to reduce the stress?
3. Next I want to recommend reaching out to supportive friends, family or a therapist, to share how you are feeling. Talking about your feelings and what’s bothering you can be so helpful in reducing stress.
4. Make a list of the helpful ways you cope with stress. (If you need a few ideas, check out this list of ways to cope with stress, here.) At MomsWellBeing.com there is a downloadable resource: 55 Ways to Cope with Stress, free by signing up for posts and newsletters.
Burnout can happen at some point in parenthood. When it happens, suspend judging yourself negatively and harshly.
You are not a failure as a mom or a dad because you experience symptoms of burnout.
Instead, be compassionate to yourself, increase self-care and coping, and make small changes to manage the stress in your life.
Parenting is not an event; it is a journey, take care of yourself.
Please take the quiz I’ve developed, designed to tell you if you are burned out and what you can do to improve your well-being and prevent and reduce burnout in parenthood.
Thank you for listening to this episode of In-Session with Dr. Claire.
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2017