Direct from
Dr. Lowenstein

Parental Burnout

Burnout is common, and it occurs for a number of reasons. Perhaps best defined as a form of exhaustion that stems from physical, emotional, and mental stress, burnout is often the result of feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with what’s happening in your life. Parents are highly susceptible to burnout, which can result in a general feeling of inadequacy as a parent and an inability to connect with your children in a meaningful way. Women are more at risk than men, primarily because they still shoulder a majority of the at-home responsibilities. Single and divorced parents are especially vulnerable as well.

If you’re experiencing the signs of parental burnout, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s more common than you might think. Most parents complain about not having enough hours in the day to get everything done. Add to that the demands of a career, and it’s no wonder they are often frustrated and exhausted. If you’re a single parent or recently divorced, you may be navigating the challenges of single parenting, so try not to be too critical of yourself. Regardless of your situation, the signs of burnout are unmistakable and range from physical and emotional exhaustion to a feeling of hopelessness.

What can you do if you’re experiencing the signs of parental burnout? Let’s take a closer look at some tips:

  • Get help from others. Talk with your spouse or ex-spouse about dividing the parenting responsibilities in a more equitable manner. Don’t hesitate to also ask a relative, neighbor, or friend to step in and lend a helping hand. There’s a reason many argue that it takes a village to raise a child. Ideally, people close to you will recognize that you need help and offer assistance. When they do, let them. Your children will benefit greatly, and so will you.
  • Connect with other parents. Parenting support groups can be a great resource, so ask your child’s pediatrician if he or she can recommend one near you. Or simply look for ways to connect with other parents at your child’s school. It can be therapeutic to talk with other parents who share some of your frustrations. When you realize that other parents occasionally struggle as well, it helps diminish some of the inadequacy you may be feeling.    
  • Take care of yourself. Parents typically put their children first, and that often means placing their own needs on the back burner. But that’s not the best thing for you and your well-being, and it definitely is not the best thing for your children. When you’re physically and emotionally up to the task, your ability to cope with the daily challenges of parenting increases significantly. So get plenty of sleep, exercise to keep your energy levels high and reduce stress, and pay attention to what you eat. When life gets particularly challenging, a short walk, a few minutes of meditation, or coffee with a friend can help reduce your stress levels.

Parenting a child at any age is no easy task, and you will hit many bumps in the road as you strive to raise happy, well-adjusted kids who can succeed as adults. In the process, try not to be too hard on yourself. And don’t hesitate to ask for help or see a mental health professional for support.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.