Parenthood begins the moment a child enters this world and its parents are tasked with the immensely important job of keeping that child well and happy. With that comes the obvious responsibilities of maintaining shelter, food, clothing, education, and a loving environment. Of course, with that comes providing the child with extended relationships, extra-curricular activities, and a variety of different experiences while avoiding your inevitable burn out as a parent.
Are you feeling the burn out yet?
There is so much pressure when it comes to raising a child. Parents do what they can to make sure that their child is well-cared for, but also make sure that they grow into productive, respected members of society. As if keeping them alive and well wasn’t enough!
There is a riddling of guilt that comes with these parental duties; Are you doing enough? Are you doing too much? Are you making too many mistakes? Are you doing the right things? The expectations of yourself become crushing. That, on top of all the external demands- household, career, personal concerns, etc- the role of being a parent becomes incredibly daunting.
Over time, these duties that require so much attention will begin to wear parents down and they will begin to burn out. Parental tasks are a priority and become so consuming that the degradation of the parents themselves often isn’t noticed until it has reached a crucial point. Parents reach a point of burn out completely; their tasks become impossible to conquer and their ability to manage becomes intrinsically challenging. While it may seem that the hole is inescapable, it’s not. There is hope.
How to avoid burn out as a parent
There are steps that parents can take to ensure they are capable of giving their children- and themselves- the proper care they need to be able to be positive parents:
Talk to someone
Confide in someone who can empathize with your situation. Typically, this will be another parent that you know that can lend a supportive ear. Aim for a time when the kids are entertained so that you can have a candid phone call or coffee date. Be honest with your friend, and with yourself. Make sure you’re talking to someone you trust won’t pass judgment. This will ensure that you’re able to be as truthful to yourself as possible.
Take care of yourself
When was the last time you went out with your friends without the kids or did something just for adults? When did you last shoot some hoops or read a book in the park? Take care of yourself. If you want to be the best you can be, you’re going to need to show yourself the same love you show your children. Give yourself time to explore who you are. Yes, you’re a parent, but don’t forget who you were before you became a parent.
The burden of your mile-long to-do list is disheartening. Make sure that everyone in the family is pitching in to help. Create chore charts. Establish roles for each family member and make sure they understand and agree. If possible, try hiring a cleaner or another service that will ease the burden of everything that needs to get done.
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Take a social media break
There’s nothing better to make you feel inadequate as a parent than a newsfeed filled with information telling you that you are. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; you just don’t need to be exposed to all of them. Stay true to what you believe in and don’t let outside influences sway how you feel.
Just Say No
You’ve been asked again to chair the fundraising committee for the school. You do it- again- because you feel obligated. Just like we tell our children: Use your words! Taking on extra tasks that don’t immediately benefit you and your family isn’t going to make you a hero- it’s going to make you exhausted and lead to complete burn out.
Enjoy lazy days
Don’t feel guilty when you and the kids don’t get out of your pajamas AT ALL on a Saturday. Don’t worry about keeping track of the hours of t.v. they’ve watched. Enjoy some downtime. If you’re feeling tired by the weekend, it’s likely your kids are, too. Do everyone a favor and literally relax!
Seek professional help
If you’re finding that the overwhelm of parenthood is dragging you down into a depression be sure to discuss that with your healthcare practitioner or counselling services. Don’t be embarrassed. You reaching out is indicative of you as a parent; it means that you care enough about the well-being of your children that you’re attempting to help yourself. That’s commendable.
Always know that you’re not alone. We are often led to believe that other parents are having a much easier time with parenting than we are, but in reality, the majority of us are all dealing with a struggle. Remember that when you see a Mom or Dad having a difficult time. It’s possible they are on the brink of burn out. Give them a kind, knowing smile. It will make all the difference in their world.