Sometimes life can be thought to be overwhelming due to: work, relationships, routine, stress, and in general trying to make ends meet. Top all of this off with – trying to be the best role model for one’s kid/s, helping them with everything that they need, be it their; educational, health, or social needs. Simply reading that made me slightly anxious!
Hence one can begin to understand that being a parent is a difficult role to take on. Needless to say it’s exhausting and at times some parents feel like they cannot take it anymore. This is what is known as parental burnout, and in fact it’s more common than one thinks. The literature suggests that parental burnout ranges between 8-36% amongst all parents (Mikolajczak & Roskam, 2018). The symptoms of parental burnout include feelings of: inefficiency as a parent, detachment from one’s kid/s and resentment towards one’s kid/s.
Evidence based research and individuals who experienced this recommend the practice of self-care. By self-care I am referring to doing activities which nourish the individual. Take some time away from the children and reach out to your close ones, perhaps they can help out by looking after the children for an hour or two. These activities may include; exercise, meditation, enjoying a hobby, enjoying a nice bath, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle amongst others. Some might say, “oh but I do not have time for self care!” I find it hard to believe this, I am a firm believer of the saying; “where there is a will there’s a way”. If it is true that one cannot find any help in terms of looking after the kid/s, then perhaps one can engage in self-care rituals with the kid/s. Such as going for a walk in the countryside, painting, and learning an instrument with your kid/s amongst others.
Having rigid expectations of yourself as a parent also increases the pressure which sometimes might not be necessarily needed. Thoughts about being the perfect parent and doing things exactly the way they need to be are not helpful to parents. These tend to cause unnecessary stress and may cause tension in the dynamic of the parents. Remember the aim is to be good enough! Whatever that may mean to each and every one of us.
Having certain routines help to keep things working like clockwork. However sometimes it’s not always possible to do all the tasks which one needs to do. Examples of these include; making sure every chore gets done on time, attending to the kid/s every requirement, spending adequate time with the children and partner, and making sure everyone is okay whilst ignoring your own needs, amongst others. I invite you to allow yourself to be flexible and prioritise what you think is important, most things can wait till tomorrow. It doesn’t make you less of a parent if the house is not in tip top condition, or if things are going to be delayed by an hour or two, or if a chore needs to be done tomorrow instead of today.
It would be beneficial to have an individual in which one could be vulnerable with, in which the individual can discuss their worries and truly be themselves. This eases the stress as one feels as if there is somebody who understands their specific situation and feels supported in their journey as a parent. Whilst also celebrating the positive things that occur as a parent as opposed to focussing on what one needs to do better. Explore the positive experiences which occur as a parent and count your wins! Focussing on the positive things which one does as a parent will definitely increase motivation to engage with your kid/s and ultimately enjoy the role of being a parent.
Mikolajczak, M., & Roskam, I. (2018). A theoretical and clinical framework for parental burnout: The Balance between Risks and Resources (BR²). Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 886.
Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.