Emotional Wellbeing

Parental Burnout is REAL: How to Tell if You Have it & What to Do About it

Parenting is stressful. Like pull-your-hair-out-hide-in-the-pantry-guzzle-ALL-the-coffee stressful. 

We all have those days where we don’t want to do it anymore. Where we want to crawl under our doonas and stay there forever.

Well, mums, as it turns out, there is a name for this. It’s called parental burnout. And it’s something that we need to keep on our radar.

What is it?

Parental burnout is basically just the fancy name for when you are too tired to give a sh*t anymore. Also known as “Zero F*cks Given.”

sorry not sorry

Okay, so this is my made-up definition but parental burnout does come with an actual definition: “A unique and context-specific syndrome resulting from enduring exposure to chronic parenting stress.”

Parental burnout is SO REAL, it even comes with some facts and figures to back it up. According to studies, approximately 8% to 36% of parents suffer from parental burnout.

What’s causing it?

One study suggests that the reason mums and dads are experiencing parental burnout is because of the “imbalance between parental risks and protection factors.”

Wondering what that means? Yeah, us too.

Thankfully, another study explains that it’s simply because there is TOO MUCH PRESSURE put on parents these days:

Important sociological changes in recent decades have increased pressure on parents to bring up healthy, secure and successful children who will become well-rounded and engaged citizens. Combined with a drastic decrease in stay-at-home mothers, these changes have made parenting both increasingly demanding and increasingly difficult.” – Frontiers in Psychology

Can I get a #hellYAS to this?

Under too much parental pressure?

We’re so busy trying to get the perfect balance between work and family life that sometimes (okay, often) we get just a little bit STRESSED OUT.

There are healthy meals to prepare, fundraisers to bake for, laundry to fold, legs to wax, homework to help with, work functions to attend, sporting activities to drive to, skinny jeans to fit into.

We all have a to-do list a mile long:

– Meet work deadlines.
– Make time for friends.
– Find time for your partner.
– Practice self-care.
– Avoid takeaway.
– Get a night of good sleep.
– Limit screentime.
– Exercise daily.
– Meditate often.
– Be grateful, be present, be there for your kids (but not too much or they won’t be self-sufficient).
– Do ALL the things.
– And, whatever you do, don’t fall apart.

It’s no wonder we’re all slowly losing the plot and succumbing to parental burnout.

to do list on car steering wheel, parental burnout

How to tell if you have it

The main parental burnout symptoms include feeling overwhelming exhaustion related to your role as a parent and feeling fed up with it. Wanting to run away or sell your kids on eBay are also common. Which, let’s face it, we all want to do sometimes.

But parental burnout symptoms can be more serious and can manifest into:

  • Feeling emotionally distant from your children
  • Difficulties in completing tasks related to parenting
  • Losing one’s sense of accomplishment from parenting
  • A general dislike for being a parent

These thoughts aren’t something to joke about, especially if they are ruining your ability to enjoy your kids and see your worth as a mum. Plus, studies suggest that parental burnout can lead to depression, risk of addition and deteriorating health. What’s more, it can impact your relationship with your kids.

mom out of order sign, parental burnout

What to do if you have parental burnout

Peace out – Seriously, run away. For a night or two – or just a couple of hours. There have been heaps of studies supporting the mental health benefits of going out with your friends twice a week. So ditch the guilt and let Dad take over so you can take a much-needed break. If you can’t escape at night, then grab a bottle of wine and head outside for some ‘alone time’. We insist.

Cut things out – If it’s not sparking joy, get rid of it. It’s time to go Marie Kondo on your life and de-clutter some of that added stress. This may mean cutting back on the kids’ extra-curricular activities or your involvement in the P&F Association. It’s okay to NOT sit through those meetings. In fact, it’s better than okay!

Outsource – Consider a cleaner to help at home, look into a carpool with other sport-mums so you don’t have to drive to and from every single practice, look into a food prep service that can cut back on meal planning and grocery shopping.

Focus on how awesome you are as a mum – Rather than worrying about what you DIDN’T achieve or what went wrong, concentrate on what matters. Did the kids get fed today? Were they loved? Did they make it to the end of the day without you selling them? Then you did good, mum.

Get help – If you are consistently overwhelmed and feeling like this parenting gig is simply too hard (we feel ya!), talk to your GP about it. You may need more than just a night off with the gals and, if this is the case, a GP is your first port-of-call to make it happen.

All mums lose their cool sometimes. Especially when our kids are acting like little arseholes. But if it’s all a bit too much, wave the parental burnout white flag and ask for help. Or, in the very least, demand a night off. In a hotel. Alone. 

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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