Expectful Interview with CEO Nathalie Walton on Parental Burnout

I am thrilled to share my LinkedIn interview with Nathalie Walton, CEO & Co-founder of Expectful. Our conversation focuses on parental burnout and the ways that we can maximize our own resources to decrease the amount of stress we absorb or encounter on a regular basis.

We spent some time talking about the prevalence of burnout in the United States and some of the stressors parents are currently navigating. A recent report released in April 2022 by The Ohio State University Office of the Chief Wellness Officer & College of Nursing found that 66% of working parents surveyed met the criteria for burnout.* Some of the strongest associations noted in the survey were: "being female, the number of children living within the household, parental anxiety, having children with either diagnosed anxiety or ADHD and parental concern that their children may have an undiagnosed mental health disorder".*

Based on these findings, how can we better support working parents that are navigating "working-parent burnout"? 

  1. Assemble a supportive social safety net- Right now it might feel like you are alone or ill-supported in your parenting journey and maybe that's why you are reading this! I want to let you know that there are so many parents out there, just like you, who are in search of a reliable, responsive, compassionate support circle but may not know where to turn. Social media is a mixed bag of this- there is no "real way" to vet support groups or "circles" but there are ways to narrow this search down. Consider these factors: your location, your own personal interests, and if you are comfortable socializing in-person vs. virtually right now. If you are looking for virtual support, Postpartum Support International is a great place to start. Another way to narrow your search is to engage or even interview local parent groups that have in-person vs. virtual gatherings and see what types of options they offer.
  2. Shifting the conversation within the workplace: In an occupational sense, how are we addressing burnout and is it even working? In a recent publication from Gallup, here are some highlights from results obtained from a survey conducted between Aug. 23-Sept. 7, 2022 based on 15,809 U.S. working adults:

- Employees with inadequate mental health miss 4x more work**- when this occurs, not only am I thinking about the direct impact of work losses due to poor mental health, I am also thinking about the financial impact of what these losses accrue for the businesses impacted. Why not invest in your employee's wellbeing if the added benefit is revenue saved on the business's behalf? The financial cost of a missed workday is estimated at ~$340 per day for full-time employees and approximately $170 per day for part-time employees.** It almost seems like a no-brainer to me, although it would take more than a pizza party or a coffee gift card to work towards reversal of occupational burnout and more financial stability within the workplace.

- Workers say their job is more likely to hurt mental health than to help it**- This begs the question: what mental health resources are available within one's workplace and are employees guided (and supported) on how to access these resources? According to the same Gallup study: "57% were unable to confirm the existence of easily accessible mental health support services in their workplace" and as much as 24% responded that they lack resources altogther while 33% were completely unaware if anything was even available within their workplace.** If we want workplace retention and employee satisfaction, we have to think of the employee as a valued human and an asset, not a productivity measure or a "goal driver".

- Over half of workers do not have easily accessible support services**- Back to the previous bulletpoint: what are we prioritizing within the workforce and where's the tenacity to fix these glaring issues? Some thoughts: carving out a specific budget for workplace wellbeing- mental health resources, onsite training for burnout prevention, discussion groups on household equity (helping to alleviate / decrease stress levels for parents that fall into the "default parent" category), and ways to help further support families who have unique child-related considerations that may impact their daily work commitments. We cannot "fix burnout" if we don't think about the person as a whole person. Each individual showing up to work has a life that exists outside of work, they have responsibilities, and more likely than not, they have others reliant upon them to live (i.e. KIDS).

  1. If we want to heal from burnout, we need to invest in our own wellbeing and our periods of restfulness and replenishment. I can't define that for you because it looks & feels different for everyone. What I can offer you is what works personally for me---I meditate every morning for 6-10 minutes. I use the Insight Timer app to access a free meditation that sets my intention for the day. Following my meditation, I pull my window shades open and expose my face to some natural sunlight. This helps to set my circadian rhythm and it's a great alternative to scrolling any social media feed first thing in the morning. I also exercise multiple times a week- I alternate between different modalities (HIIT workouts, cycling, stair-climbing, and barre classes) in order to get some variety.
  2. Optimizing sleep quantity and quality is another important consideration. This is understandably difficult with younger children, however there is significant benefit from addressing sleep hygiene such that the amount of sleep we are able to obtain is of high quality. If you have specific sleep questions or concerns, connect with your healthcare team as they may have specific recommendations for you.

Addressing parental burnout requires an intentional and deliberate incorporation of available resources and developing additional strategies on an individual specific basis. Many of these points are summarized on the Expectful app. Here's a link to the app if you are interested in exploring how Expectful's app of evidence-based resources can help you decrease your stress levels as a parent and / or expectant parent!

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Disclaimer: The information on this platform is not intended or implied to be a substitute for personal professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All platform content including text, graphics, images, and information is for general information purposes only & does not replace clinical consultation with your own doctor/mental health professional.




#parenting #parentalburnout #burnoutprevention #burnoutcoach #burnoutsupport