Burnout caused by work is better known and more talked about than parental burnout. However, the lockdown period has put a spotlight on the difficulty of living together as a family (even as a couple). Today, more people have discovered the danger of family stress which can definitely lead to a burnout. Here is how to protect yourself from parental burnout and how to recognize that you are suffering from it.
First Thing to Do: Learn How to Breathe
Parents who suddenly had to become superhuman, having to handle their job and the education of their kids full-time, were placed under a lot of stress. As September came, there are still some countries in the world in lockdown where this situation occurs. If you don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed by the situation, the first thing you need to do is learn how to breathe.
Yes, it may sound simple. But when you are in a panic state, or you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulder, you may go into hyperventilation or you simply not breathe right, which will affect your body and increase the tension you feel. Intermittent Breathing is the solution you should look for.
When you start hyperventilating, you increase your heart rate. Although it is not possible to slow it down just by your own will, it can be done through intermittent breathing, which reduces your intake of air and calms the heart down.
How to Recognize Parental Burnout?
The symptoms of parental burnout are similar to the ones you would feel if it was caused by work. The first one is exhaustion. That is the sensation that you are physically and chronically drained and at the breaking point. When that happens, individuals suffering from burnout will start distancing themselves from the people around them – in the case of parental burnout: from their spouse and children. They won’t be able to recognize their qualities anymore. Everything they do will bother them and get on their nerves. They won’t empathize and care for the rest of the family members anymore.
The second symptom is inefficacy. When you suffer from parental burnout, all you used to do around the house, or for family members, become suddenly pointless. You start thinking that nobody cares, so there is no use to complete the tasks or provide the care that you usually give to others. Rapidly, you lose the sense of accomplishment that you found in parenting.
Look for Balance
The main cause of parental burnout is an imbalance between the daily demands of the household and the time you take for yourself, to re-energize. Therefore, the key to protect yourself is to look for equilibrium. In order to achieve this result, all members of the family should be given tasks (daily or weekly) and provided with down time of their own.
In normal life, when kids are at school and adults at work, there is often no need to clarify these points. But with the lockdown, the differences in roles, between each member of the family, have come to light. As life gets back to normal, it will be important to share the load more equally.