If you’re feeling exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed, you’re not alone! Many parents experience burnout – especially after parenting through a pandemic. Use these tips to cope with burnout, and enjoy your kid again!
Do you ever feel like you just cannot do it anymore?
The lunchbox packing.
The teeth brushing.
The pandemic pushed many of us to the brink of exhaustion, but feeling burned out is not a new experience for parents.
Raising kids takes emotional and physical energy. It requires you to be present and involved. And, while it would be nice to expect kids just to “behave,” that’s not how development works.
If you are feeling burnout, you are not alone.
Unfortunately, taking a break from parenting isn’t usually an option. While some parents have supportive family and community, many parents are going it alone – juggling childcare, work schedules, and school drop-offs without the support of others.
Escaping burnout may feel like an impossible task.
I recognize that there are no easy answers here, and I also know that your mental health is the most important key to parenting with a calm confidence.
Feeling burned out is a sign that something needs to change. Something in your life needs to be addressed.
It doesn’t mean that you are a failure or that there is something wrong with you.
It means this part of you needs kind, compassionate attention.
Coping With Burnout
Most of the time, you function fairly well. You’re able to tolerate sensory input, stay on top of your workload, and respond to your kids’ persistent demands for more screentime.
Of course, there are moments when you feel overwhelmed and tense, but with a few deep breaths, you come back to your calm baseline.
When we’re feeling burnout, the space between calm and stress feels nonexistent. Little things aggravate you more than they used to, mundane tasks feel exhausting, and yelling becomes your go-to response.
Rather than experiencing periods of calm and relaxation, your brain is stuck in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze.
For parents experiencing burnout, this is your everyday existence.
Unfortunately, your body is not designed to manage extreme stress for prolonged periods of time. Without returning to a calm baseline, your body responds in unhealthy ways – emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Emily and Amelia Nagoski‘s book “Burnout” is my go-to resource. The authors suggest moving through a stress cycle as one way to cope with burnout.
To move through a stress cycle: you experience a stressor, your body reacts with a fight, flight, or freeze response, you manage the stressful situation and engage in an activity that gives your brain an “all-clear” signal – helping the brain realize that you are safe and sending the message that the body can go back to a calm state again.
There are seven ways to move through a stress cycle:
- Physical activity
- Positive Social Interaction
- Creative Expression
As you move through stress cycles more often, you may widen the space between calm and fight, flight, or freeze, making is possible for you to see beyond the burnout.
Being Curious About Burnout
Moving through stress cycles consistently is just the beginning. Once you’ve reminded your body and brain how it feels to be calm again, it may be time to take a closer look at the things that led to your feelings of burnout in the first place.
Everyone’s situation is different, but here are a few questions to consider:
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Is there a medical or mental health concern that needs attention?
- Am I connected and involved with a supportive community?
- How is my alcohol use?
- Is my schedule or my family’s schedule too busy?
- Are the expectations I live up to reasonable?
- How is my screentime and social media use?
- Where do I need to ask for help or support?
- What assumptions drive my behavior, thoughts, or way I view myself?
- How can I treat myself with self-compassion?
- In what ways has the pandemic impacted my feelings of burnout?
Explore these questions, and any others that come up, with kindness, not judgment. It’s not easy to take an honest look at your thoughts, feelings, relationships, and daily experiences. Use your answers to decide how to move forward in a positive direction.
Coping with burnout may feel overwhelming in light of everything you have going on right now, and that’s normal.
It’s OK if you don’t have an amazing solution yet. Sometimes, just noticing and naming things is a good place to start.
Take it slow.
Go back to the strategies listed above for moving through the stress cycle. Pick one or two to try this week.
Your health matters.
Your mental health matters.
You are not alone.
How Can I Help?
If you would like support to manage your feelings of burnout, I would love to meet with you for an online Parent Coaching session. We can talk about your current challenges and find solutions that work for your unique family. Get more information and schedule a session today!