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Hilal Her

Preventing Parental Burnout

February 2024

Parenthood is a profoundly fulfilling experience, but it is also a demanding journey for parents, both emotionally and physically. It can bring you immense joy that you have never experienced, but it also comes with a significant burden of responsibilities. In today’s fast-paced world, where many parents juggle work and family responsibilities, providing for children can be a source of stress and immense challenges. Many times, this leads to parental burnout. When you feel burnt out, your mind will likely focus on the negatives. Try countering this with a gratitude activity when you wake or before bed.  
Parental burnout is a state of extreme exhaustion and fatigue  arising from the demands of parenting, which may feel overwhelming and unmanageable, sometimes, even causing depression. The occurrence of this type of depression is distinct from postpartum depression, as it typically arises in mothers more than 18 months after giving birth. It is primarily associated with parental characteristics and, to a lesser extent, social and marital factors. The depressive feelings are specifically related to the challenges of parenting and do not extend to other aspects of life.
Mothers are widely recognized as the primary caregivers for children in various aspects of their lives. This brings added responsibility and a significant amount of inherent and learned guilt about not meeting the expectations of being a mother. By paying close attention and being mindful of parental burnout, we can gain insight into why we may be experiencing stress, disconnection, and fatigue that leaves us feeling absent and drained.

Picture yourself as a mother, constantly on the move, juggling the needs and routines of two or more children at different stages of development. Imagine yourself working for a company, managing your own business, and or if you are a stay-at-home mom, Understanding and meeting the needs of children while also taking care of yourself, your spouse, and the family can be pretty exhausting. At times, the sheer volume of it all can become overwhelming. The responsibilities that mothers carry are often overlooked. In this era of women being expected to 'do it all,' the burden of disproportionate responsibility seems too much. Perhaps you’ve heard stories from older generations about women successfully raising multiple children and handling all their responsibilities. Nevertheless, the often overlooked factor is the significant disparity in the family support system. During that era, the children were practically raised by the entire village. For most families, this is not the case anymore.
The unrealistic expectations that society has for mothers are internalized so deeply by them that they do not understand where the burnout is coming from. I want to say one thing to the tired, burned-out, disconnected mothers: “You are not a bad mother; you need a little help to get back up and start again, and you can!”
Ongoing high stress levels, whether related to work, financial pressures, interpersonal conflicts, etc., can contribute to parental burnout. Doing your best as a parent can be a great aim. However, perfecting your parenting and not erring at all can be too hard as you are human. Setting unattainable standards for oneself as a parent can create feelings of constant failure and eventually lead to burnout. Social support is critical to bringing up children. You can do it alone, but the cost can be your mental and physical health. Limited support from family, friends, or community can intensify the demands and pressures of parenting, making parents more susceptible to burnout. Therefore, you need to be mindful about asking for help. You can also get guidance from your parents and grandparents. Overburdened parents with non-negotiable responsibilities, such as caring for a child with special needs or other significant challenges, are at a higher risk of burnout. However, the research indicates that all parents can and do feel burnout. 
Being a mother is considered a gift. However, the expectation of not being tired, needing time to recharge, and getting some support can be very stressful. Feelings of guilt and the pressure to be a perfect mother can contribute to burnout, as mothers may constantly feel that their efforts are inadequate. If you are a working mother, you may have a working mother’s guilt of not being available for your child more. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may feel guilty about not pursuing a career or feel isolated, burnt out, and overwhelmed trying to keep everything together. Selfcare is not selfishness. However, taking care of children is a time and energy-consuming task. Neglecting selfcare activities and personal needs can lead to chronic fatigue and emotional exhaustion, increasing the likelihood of experiencing burnout.
Management of Parental Burnout
Now, let's discuss how you can work to prevent parental burnout. 
Setting Realistic Expectations 
Setting realistic expectations is an important strategy for preventing parental burnout. Parents often put undue pressure on themselves to meet unrealistic standards of perfection. By setting achievable goals for themselves and their children, parents can reduce stress and create a more balanced approach to parenting. Recognizing that it is impossible to be a perfect parent all the time is key to preventing burnout.
Prioritizing Selfcare
Taking care of yourself is crucial for preventing parental burnout. Parents often neglect their own needs in favor of meeting the needs of their children. However, neglecting selfcare can lead to exhaustion and burnout. It is important for you to make time for activities that they enjoy, such as hobbies or exercise, and to prioritize rest. Engaging in selfcare activities not only rejuvenates parents but also models healthy behavior for their children. You can take some ‘me time’ while the other parent or a trusted loved one takes care of your children. 
Building a Support System
Parenting is not meant to be done alone. Building a support system of friends, family, or other parents can help prevent feelings of isolation and burnout. Engaging in regular social activities and seeking support from others who understand the challenges of parenting can provide a much-needed outlet for stress and provide perspective on common parenting struggles. Additionally, seeking professional help from therapists or counselors can be beneficial in navigating the difficulties associated with parenting.
Creating Boundaries
Establishing clear boundaries in parenting is fundamental to preventing burnout. Parents need to learn to say no to excessive demands and set limits on their time and energy. By establishing clear boundaries, parents can avoid overextending themselves and create a healthy balance between their parental responsibilities and personal wellbeing. Being a mother, you can reassess and evaluate your boundaries and see where you can draw a line for your mental health. 
Practicing Stress Management Techniques
Learning and practicing stress management techniques is a cornerstone in preventing burnout. Making deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, and engaging in hobbies, etc., a regular part of your routine can help reduce stress levels and promote overall welfare. These strategies can significantly contribute to preventing burnout and maintaining a healthy mindset.

Preventing parental burnout is essential for maintaining overall wellbeing and providing a nurturing environment for your children. By recognizing the signs of burnout and implementing effective strategies and techniques, you can prevent burnout and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling parenting experience. Setting realistic expectations, prioritizing selfcare, building a support system, creating boundaries, and practicing stress management are all valuable tools in preventing parental burnout. By proactively taking care of yourself, you can enhance your happiness, provide a positive example for your children, and foster a healthy and loving family environment.

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