I wanted to share my collaboration with Dr. Lisa- She is a Public Health researcher, parent, and Founder of Play Nourish Thrive in Sydney Australia. We are both interested in learning how parents can enhance their own wellbeing by focusing on their current resources, stressors, and what parents can do in order to alleviate the strain without overwhelming themselves.
The last few years have really highlighted and exacerbated the stress parents experience on a broad level. Parents are expected to meet the needs of everyone around them: their employer, their children’s whole emotional and physical well-being, their partner’s, extended family and an incessant need to meet society’s standards. We are expected to be joyful, eternally grateful, and to not complain because this is "what we choose to do". What's missing here? We are missing a that "village" that everyone yearns for when becoming parents, and over the past 2-3 years, we've discovered that much of what may have existed before for parental support has either subsided, decreased in availability, or just frankly was never there in the first place.
While "parental burnout" has been studied since the ~1980s, it has only started to enter our vernacular in the last few years. It is particularly insidious, because unlike occupational burnout that happens as a result of paid work, parenting doesn’t end at 5pm or when one clocks out of their scheduled work shift. Contingent upon the child(ren)’s current age range and developmental needs, a parent may either experience more physical exhaustion during younger stages of development vs. experience more emotional exhaustion due to conflict during the adolescent or teen periods. I also want to state that ALL stages of parenthood can be exhausting at times, but it's clear that certain stages of child development require different skillsets to manage and navigate as mentioned. Whether you are experiencing physical, mental, and / or emotional exhaustion, it is all valid and your experiences are real & shared by many other parents.
Researchers have identified 3 main components of parental burnout:
1. Overwhelming exhaustion in one’s parental role
2. Emotional detachment from children
3. Loss of fulfillment in parental role
In addition, one may find that their parenting style, behavior, and / or level of engagement may contrast with their previous parental “self”. Parental burnout can find you feeling fatigued, irritable, quick to anger etc. Burnout prevention is an important form of family planning, and recognising the signs if it does start to creep in are critical in getting the additional support that you so richly deserve.
We shared some strategies on Instagram to help prevent and/or tackle parental burnout, and often these are incremental changes to your daily life. The goal is to build ease into your daily schedule and to take the pressure off of yourself.
Have you experienced parental burnout? If you are looking for parental burnout resources, visit my Services page here.
Source: Abramson, 2021. The impact of parental burnout. Accessed from apa.org on 16.10.2022
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