Parenting is one of the most stressful and taxing jobs imaginable. Although raising children is incredibly rewarding, the challenges of caring tirelessly for another person can take their toll. If you’re experiencing parental burnout, you’re not alone. Many people fear that admitting to burnout will make them look like a bad parent, but exhaustion is a completely normal and common experience. What’s most important is that you’re honest with yourself and you seek the support you need to overcome the burnout.
What Is Parental Burnout?
Parental burnout is physical, mental, or emotional fatigue that occurs as a result of parenting. Being a parent is a never-ending responsibility, and the constant demands of raising a child without any relief can lead to severe exhaustion. When the expectations and responsibilities of parenting outweigh your capabilities, you can feel completely drained.
All parents are vulnerable to burnout. No one can provide constant care to another person without support and not experience exhaustion. Burnout often happens after a particularly stressful period of time, and the symptoms can persist for weeks, months, or even years if you don’t receive support.
6 Signs of Parental Burnout
Parental burnout looks different for everyone, but there are some key signs and symptoms that you’re too stressed and overwhelmed. The following are some of the most typical symptoms of parental burnout:
1. You never feel well-rested.
Parental burnout can cause mental, emotional, and physical fatigue. Exhaustion is a normal part of parenting to some extent, but you shouldn’t feel tired every second of every day. When you’re struggling with burnout, you might feel like you’re fighting off exhaustion with every task you complete, or you may feel tired no matter how much you sleep.
2. You’re more moody or irritable than usual.
The stress of parenting can take an emotional toll, especially if you don’t have opportunities to rest and recuperate. When you’re completely drained, you don’t have the energy to properly regulate your emotions. You might break down at a slight inconvenience, or you might lash out in anger over a minor mistake. A short fuse is an extremely common result of parental burnout.
3. You feel isolated or detached.
Sometimes, parental burnout results in more intense and volatile emotions. For other parents, though, burnout can cause feelings of numbness, emptiness, or isolation. You might physically or emotionally distance yourself from your family and friends until you feel entirely alone.
4. You’re not taking care of your health.
As a parent, you probably put your entire family before yourself. Neglecting self-care can be a major contributor to burnout, though. Then, once you’re already in the throes of burnout, you may feel far too exhausted to keep up with your self-care.
You might notice that you’re sleeping less than you used to or that you’ve stopped exercising or eating healthy meals. You may forgot to schedule your own doctor’s appointments or take prescription medications. Self-care is often the first task to go when you’re struggling, so changes in your own health, hygiene, or personal care are classic signs of burnout.
5. You feel like you’re on autopilot.
Many parents who have suffered from burnout compare the experience to being on autopilot. You want to be fully present in your and your children’s lives, but you’re so fatigued that you feel like you’re just going through the motions. The days can start to blur together, and you might find it difficult to get excited for important events or milestones.
6. You daydream about escaping.
Fantasizing about escaping from your family is a very common sign of burnout. No one wants to admit that they have these thoughts, but many exhausted parents think about what life would be like without their family responsibilities. You might daydream about having time to yourself and having more freedom, and you may imagine what would happen if you left parenting behind.
While these thoughts are typical among those with extreme burnout, they can become very dangerous if you have any intention of making the daydream a reality. If you’re so drained that you’re truly thinking about escaping from your family, you should reach out to a mental health professional for support right away.
Overcoming Parental Burnout
Recovering from parental burnout is possible with support from others. Burnout usually happens when you feel like you have to manage everything on your own, so sharing the load with trusted loved ones is essential.
If you’re struggling with parental burnout, you should start by talking to someone about how you feel. Parents often dedicate their entire lives to their children, so it’s rare for them to get to focus on themselves and their own experiences. Opening up to your partner, friend, parent, or other loved one about how you’re feeling can provide a sense of relief. Then, you and your loved ones can make a plan to ease your burden.
Sometimes, parents feel like asking for help is giving up. Everyone needs support from time to time, though. Your partner or co-parent should be your first resource if you’re feeling burned out. You share equal responsibility for your children, but to be a healthy team, one partner should be ready to provide extra support if the other is struggling. If you need additional support, reach out to friends or family members who are willing to help. Even a simple task, like running an errand or cooking a meal, can ease some of your stress.
Parental burnout can be emotionally devastating. If burnout is taking a toll on your mental health, consider reaching out to a counselor. Therapy for parental burnout is an opportunity for you to express your emotions, acknowledge your own needs, and figure out how to live in a more manageable, sustainable way.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides therapy for parental burnout. We know how challenging parenting can be, and we’re happy to offer support as you process your experiences and work toward your mental health goals. If you’re looking for therapy in Los Angeles, contact us today.