The pandemic didn’t just affect our physical health across the world. It’s had a profound effect on our mental health. Even though we’re emerging from the more intense restrictions, you still might be experiencing burnout by how difficult parenting became.
If so, you should take steps to heal yourself so you can be the best parent for your child.
What is burnout?
While it’s mostly associated with high-intensity, high-stress careers such as healthcare, law, or corporate executive positions, anyone can experience burnout, including parents. It’s a feeling of helplessness, frustration, a lack of control, and worsening motivation.
Burnout can affect your relationship with your child. Kids are in tune with their parents’ moods, and you may see increased bad behavior. They might be vying for any kind of attention from you, even negative. You and your child likely feel emotionally distant. In the worst-case scenario, parental burnout can escalate to abuse.
It also affects your relationship with your partner. You both probably feel de-prioritized, since all your energy is going to parenting. This can lead to conflict, further widening the emotional gulf between you.
Lastly, burnout affects you. You’ll feel less interest in what you once enjoyed. You’ve got less time for yourself, meaning you might lose a sense of individuality. You probably feel lethargic and less capable of interacting with others. So what can you do if you’re feeling burnt out?
Commit to less
It’s okay to take a step back from your responsibilities if they’re overwhelming you. See what you can put off for right now. If you volunteered to take on an extra project for the PTA, it might be best for you to postpone it or find a replacement. Check with the rest of your family. Maybe your kids aren’t so into soccer practice at the moment, either.
Schedule dates with friends
This might seem contradictory if you’re trying to lighten your schedule, but feeling isolated can take a huge toll. The pandemic most likely stopped you from having a normal social life. Making dates with friends to grab dinner, play games, and watch movies will destress and take your mind off parenting. You and your friends can also be a support system for each other.
You probably all have things you’d like second opinions on, and input from your friends on how to handle work, relationships, and parenting can be great advice.
…And with your partner
Parenting during the pandemic probably put a strain on your relationship with your spouse or partner. Intimacy takes a backseat when you’re focused on keeping your kids involved in school, juggling work meetings, and stressing about getting sick.
Try setting aside a couple nights a month for you two to get out of the house. While you’re together, try to focus on topics that stay away from your daily responsibilities, parenting, and other obligations. Make the evening about getting closer together.
Start a new hobby
It’s an act of self-care to do something just for yourself. Burnout can make you feel stagnant, like you’re doing the same things over and over again. Try something new. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up something creative, like needlepoint or jewelry-making. A new hobby could even be starting to read a new fantasy series. Studies show spending time on hobbies decreases stress and increases positive moods.
Get into therapy
If none of your tactics are working, or if you want a more targeted approach to addressing your burnout, counseling might be right for you. A mental health professional can help you refocus your energy and to de-prioritize things that are causing you stress. They’ll also work with you on developing healthy coping mechanisms to use when your anxiety is high.