How do I combat parenting burnout?
Being parents of young children isn’t easy, and it’s important to find moments in your day to recover from the stress. Learn tips from CareNectar expert Martha Tyler on how to combat parenting burnout.
I’m a mom with 2 children under the age of 7, and also work a full-time job. And I’m just so tired! As much as I hate to admit it, I’m nearly to the point of giving up on being a “good parent” and find myself almost giving in to all of the kids’ constant requests for more screen time or a dinner of chocolate pudding and popsicles. The complaining is constant, and most days I struggle to find time to escape it. Sometimes upon returning home from work, I sit in my car because I know going inside the house means arguing with tiny humans about broccoli and baths and brushing teeth. It feels good to vent, but what else can I do to keep myself sane while also helping me be a better parent?
Thanks so much for the question! Caregiver burnout is definitely a common topic of discussion, so first, know that you are not alone! By reaching out, you have already accomplished the first step of recognizing that something in your life has to change. And you are also acknowledging that your own health and wellbeing is important to helping you provide the best care for your family. Coming to this conclusion, for so many, is often the most difficult part.
Let’s start by talking about boundaries. It’s important for you to understand that setting boundaries for yourself is not selfish. Caregivers by nature are typically not selfish people, so for them, setting boundaries isn’t easy. In fact, many caregivers tend to struggle with setting boundaries with their kids, spouses, work, friends, and hobbies. Society tells us that primary caregivers are supposed to be a never-ending well of resources and support without needing to be filled themselves. And when you operate from this mindset, you can easily feel burnt out and undervalued. And it sounds like this is what’s happening with you.
Now, let’s talk about self-care. It’s too easy to dismiss self-care as something you don’t have time for. But really, it is as simple as finding small moments of time in your daily or weekly routine to recover and recharge from your stressors. It could be a long walk, an hour-long soak in the tub, or giving yourself time to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Remind yourself that it’s not selfish to take this time for yourself. Instead, it’s just part of what you need to destress and reenergize yourself. CareNectar published the Self-Care for Parents and Caregivers Kit, which includes a number of activities that can help you identify and prioritize self-care activities that work for you.
So this next week, I challenge you to find the small moments in your day to recenter your thoughts and energy back to yourself. Try waking up 15 minutes earlier to do a mindfulness activity—such as journaling, listening to calming music, setting your daily attention, doing some yoga stretches, or enjoying your favorite cup of coffee—before the kids wake up. Starting your day off with a mindfulness activity can help you feel more centered and less frazzled throughout the day. And not all mindfulness activities will work for you. So if writing in a journal in the morning isn’t working for you or isn’t something you are able to do every day, try something else. Take the time you need to find something that works for you.
Additionally, as you move forward throughout your day, allow yourself a few moments to take several deep breaths, focusing on breathing in your daily intention and breathing out one piece of stress with each exhale. If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget to find the time to do this. So I suggest setting a daily reminder on your calendar if you think this will be a useful tool for you. Actively being more mindful about what you need to function at your best for yourself and your family is the first step to creating a healthier life!
We hope these tools work for you. And remember that the fact that you reached out is an amazing first step. We are here for you as you navigate self-care and your journey toward destressing, avoiding burnout, and promoting self-care.
Meet The Expert
Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!