For many days Sujata Singh was feeling completely exhausted. The doctors could find nothing wrong with her, but she felt chronically drained out, tired, and fatigued.
With a prescription of supplements, the doctor told her to take it easy and consult a therapist.
After visiting the therapist, Sujata discovered that she was suffering from a parental burnout.
It made complete sense.
With work from home and school happening for the last 20 months, her plate was overflowing.
She did not even have time to think and was almost working on autopilot.
What is Parental Burnout?
Parental burnout is a state of extreme mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion experienced by parents.
This can be accompanied by depression, sadness, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Parenting is a mundane experience, however, many sociological changes in the past years have drastically changed the parenting system in terms of effort and become quite intensive.
To understand this phenomenon researchers from UCLouvain in Belgium surveyed over 17,000 parents living in 42 countries between 2018 and March 2020.
It was found that the incidence of burnout varies from country to country depending on the cultural values and attributes across countries.
The World Health Organization recognized burnout syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases in the year 2019 as an occupational phenomenon that is connected to many health issues.
How to Deal?
Extensive focussing on kids often becomes an obsession with parents allowing no time for other activities.
Most parents believe that parental burnout is a normal part of parenting and don't feel uncomfortable voicing their feelings.
If this syndrome is not handled and addressed correctly it can result in serious mental and physical health issues.
If you are going through any of the mentioned symptoms take stock. Talk with your spouse, family, and friends. Do not harbour feelings of guilt or incapability.
Tips and Suggestions
Prevention is always a good approach. However, the following ideas facilitate both preventing and overcoming this issue.
Have a routine
A routine offers a clear idea to kids especially the young kids to expect what is coming next. Toddlers do not like a frequent change in timetables.
If you make a point of following regular a meal, play and sleep time your toddler will be happy, preventing stress and burnout for yourself.
This is difficult for parents of toddlers and very young kids. Try to create a support system to lean on when required.
For example, requesting a friend to look after your kid for an hour twice a month or hiring a helper to look after the kid for some time every week could be possible. Grandparents can help if they reside in the same city.
Don't be there, always
Being constantly present for your kids is bad for both, parents, and kids. As a parent when you overfill your plate you are in trouble.
When kids become too dependent, they do not learn life skills like creative thinking, decision-making, entertaining themselves and patience. They refrain from trying out things to explore solutions.
Instead of constantly monitoring, assisting, and suggesting just let go. Your kids can think independently.
Ensuring that they are in a safe place let them try things unaided. Engage them in age-relevant tasks and appreciate their accomplishments.
Comprehend the Reality
Parenting is supposed to be just wonderful. This isn't true. Being a parent is a lovely experience, but it is also a demanding job for parents, especially mothers who society accepts to be the epitome of selflessness.
There is nothing like a being perfect parent. We grow and learn as a parent with the child.
Parents do not prioritize self-care which often is an important cause of burnout. Making time for physical, mental, and emotional health is crucial.
A twenty-minute workout in the morning will do wonders. Regular meditation can relieve stress and tension.
Hobbies like reading, painting, journaling, or singing help to unwind and de-stress.
Tips to Prevent Parental Burnout
Have normal expectations from yourself
Do not compare with other parents
Get out of the loop of perfect parenting
Have regular rest breaks even for just a few minutes
Do not nag or monitor kids all the time
Don’t overprotect your kids and do everything
Let kids explore in a safe environment
Be kind and nurture yourself
Parental burnout doesn't only distress the parent but the whole family. Whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious do not ignore the symptoms.
Share and discuss with someone and if required visit a therapist. Afterall, parenting is a rewarding but a fleeting experience.
Time flies and kids grow up. Create happy memories to cherish in the future.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)