3 Signs You're Experiencing Parental Burnout And What To Do About It

Sometimes, you need to be selfish.
Tired and worried mother working at home
damircudic via Getty Images
Tired and worried mother working at home

Being a parent often means giving up a lot of yourself for a tiny human. This can mean your time, your space and at times, even mental wellbeing.

Without the right support, you may find yourself experiencing parental burnout without even realising it. And even though you might understand that you might be experiencing symptoms of parental burnout, it’s not necessarily easy to get out of the cycle.

What is parental burnout?

Amanda Jenner, who is a Parenting expert says parental burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion related to your parental responsibilities.

1. You are likely to feel exhausted all the time, even if rested, and find it hard to enjoy activities with your children.

2. Those experiencing parental exhaustion are likely to feel disconnected, easily irritated or angry over small things with zero patience in everything you do.

3. Parental burnout will leave you feeling overwhelmed with parenting and might mean you find it difficult to manage stress and your negative thoughts.

Amanda says if you believe you have parental burnout it’s best to seek support from mental health professionals, family and friends.

Additionally, taking breaks, establishing what self care options might be useful, and establishing a support system can help if you’re experiencing burnout.

How can I prevent parental burnout?

Neurodiversity consultant Madeleine Woolgar says: “Avoiding parental burn out means challenging the dominant societal narrative that parents who put themselves last are the ‘good parents’.

“They’re not the good ones, they are, in my experience, the burnt out ones. Everyone in the family benefits from a parent who has taken time to take care of themselves, but trusting in that is an act of rebellion, frankly. And without having had this modelled to them by their parents, most parents have no idea where to start.”

Likewise, Rychel Johnson who is a mental health expert, licensed clinical professional counsellor in Kansas, and a senior contributor at Our Public Records says you need to be a bit selfish to avoid parental burnout.

Her advice is to pause everything and regroup if you find yourself drained. She also says you should try simple everyday rechargers to help you through.

  • For some, it’s reclaiming a beloved hobby or creative outlet.
  • For others, it’s giving yourself a free pass to face plant on the couch and binge-watch a show you love.
  • Some swear by the magic of an utterly indulgent but very much-needed 30-minute power nap!
  • The other big piece is teamwork. Ditch that martyr mindset about doing it all alone. Let your partner take over for a bit. Call in grandparents for reinforcements for some prime coddling.
  • Swap babysitting days with your mum friends – having a solid support system makes riding out these draining seasons so much easier.

The bottom line is, parental burnout is nothing to beat yourself up over says Rychel. The real test is catching yourself before you tumble into full-blown burnout territory.

Don’t ignore those warning signs. Get selfish, ask for help, and watch how quickly you can replenish the well.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.