How to Deal With Parental Exhaustion
There is no one rule book for parenting, which makes it a life-changing, overwhelming, and rewarding adventure. You can only learn by doing, which gets exhausting at times. But what happens if you reach parental exhaustion?
The number of children is projected to increase to 6.4 million in Australia by 2048. Deciding to become a parent or guardian is a huge undertaking, but with the rise of social media, sometimes it is easy to forget you are not alone.
It is important to remember every parent is tired, no matter how ideal their life looks. However, there are also times when that tiredness becomes parental exhaustion, which is important to address. After all, you cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself.
The good news is that there are ways for dealing with parental exhaustion. Below is a parental exhaustion guide with everything you need to know about the subject.
What Is Parental Exhaustion?
Parental exhaustion is also known as parental burnout, and you may have experienced burnout in different ways throughout your life. As any parent knows, there are many non-joyous moments. There are times when sleepless nights, temper tantrums, grappling with maths homework, and countless clothes changes make even the calmest person stressed.
And then, you have to consider the social pressures of parenting. Around 51 percent of surveyed parents report feeling intense social pressure on how they are raising their children, and 43% said becoming a parent was more challenging than they thought.
When all the stress becomes overwhelming, you can reach a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. You have nothing left to give, which can also lead to feelings of guilt.
Parental exhaustion is when you have had prolonged periods of stress without ways to compensate for the stress. While it is incredible to focus on your child’s needs, when you neglect your own for an extended period, it leads to parental burnout. The good news is that parent exhaustion is temporary if you take steps to address it.
Causes of Parental Exhaustion Explained
There are many causes of parental exhaustion. Simply navigating the world of being a parent is challenging enough. However, some causes of parental exhaustion can include:
- Societal pressures
- Lack of communication
- Limited support or resources
- No boundaries
- People pleasing
- Unrealistic expectations on self or others
None of the causes of parental exhaustion is your fault. Many reasons are out of your control. It can impact any parent or caregiver, but risk factors can include financial status, cultural background, number of children, and age of children.
Signs of Parental Exhaustion
So, how can you tell when you just need another coffee or when you have reached parental exhaustion? Warning signs can appear slowly and can be confused with other illnesses.
Although stress impacts people in different ways, here are some of the common signs of burnout to look out for:
- Mental and physical exhaustion
- Isolation or avoiding others
- No motivation or interest
- Feeling isolated
- Changes to appetite
- Feeling a disconnect with your children
- Distancing self from children
- Memory loss
- Feelings of guilt, self-doubt, or shame
- Sleep problems
- Frustration and irritability
- Feelings of resentment
- Loss of pleasure in parenting
- Difficulty remembering information and making decisions
As you can tell, there is a long list of parental exhaustion warning signs. Parent exhaustion can show up in different ways; on emotional, cognitive, and physical levels. You may find you are using negative coping behaviours, such as misusing alcohol or drugs to cope.
Symptoms often overlap with other mental and physical health disorders too. And some parents think this is a normal aspect of parenting. However, if you feel you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to take action.
Impact of Parental Exhaustion
If you do not address your exhaustion, the impact of parental exhaustion can worsen. It will impact you and your family. That is why it is so important to care for yourself and show yourself the same love you give to others.
Along with the signs of parental exhaustion, other consequences include:
- Disconnect from partner
- Sleep disorders
- Physical health issues
- Mental health issues
- Suicidal thoughts
Parental exhaustion can severely impact your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And without addressing the exhaustion, your symptoms can cause the burnout cycle to continue. For example, if you are not getting enough sleep, you will continue to feel exhausted and experience brain fog.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is important to seek urgent support. You can contact your primary health physician, reach out to a loved one, or call a mental health helpline.
Dealing With Parental Exhaustion
The good news is that you can take steps if you are experiencing parental exhaustion or have begun to recognise some warning signs. At least one-third of men and two-thirds of women experience parental exhaustion at some point. Here are the top parental exhaustion tips to help you recover.
One of the best parental exhaustion remedies is support. It is essential to verbalise how you feel with someone. Reach out to a loved one or a friend, and express that you need help.
It is important to remember there is no shame in expressing how you feel. It does not make you a bad parent. Vulnerability is power, and seeking support will help you recover faster.
If you do not feel able to communicate with a loved one or friend, consider reaching out to a therapist. They will help provide the space to voice your feelings and prepare to tell people around you. If you are experiencing mental or physical health symptoms, contact your primary health physician immediately, so they can help address the issue and prevent it from worsening.
Once you seek the support, you can also make a contingency plan to avoid parental exhaustion in the future. It is important to remember that people do not know how you feel unless you speak up, so you need to express your feelings in order for things to change.
Find a Village
If you sit a group of parents down and discuss parenting, you can guarantee they will quickly move away from the picture-perfect social media portrayal. It can help to speak to other parents, so you know you are not alone.
We stand by that it takes a village to raise a child. Community is essential and often lacking for many parents. However, there are many ways to build support networks nowadays.
If you cannot make it to an in-person group, check out the many groups online. You might need to try several groups to find the right fit for your needs.
Expand Your Techniques
Parental exhaustion can also signify it is time to make some changes. Talk to your support network, partner, read parenting resources, look online, or talk to a counsellor. Review what parenting techniques are working for you and if there are any changes to make.
Some changes will take time to implement. There is no shame in reviewing parenting techniques. You, your partner, and your children are constantly changing, so it is always helpful to take time to review parenting techniques.
Also, consider what personal coping techniques and routines you have in place. Along with building a support network, consider other personal coping tools to help manage your stress. This could be starting an exercise routine, trying a meditation technique, or changing your family’s diet.
Allow Self-Care Time
It can be hard to find five minutes of the day to rest when parenting. But allocating some self-care time each week will do wonders for your mental health. Self-care time can include exercise, taking five extra minutes in the shower, doing an activity you enjoy, or taking some time away from your children to meet with friends.
Not all self-care activities are possible for parents. But review what is possible for you; if you have a partner or someone who can watch your children, ask for support.
When you become a parent, your identity naturally changes. However, it is essential not to lose sight of your individual needs. Giving yourself some self-care time will help revitalise you and give you the energy you need to care for others.
Practice Compassion and Patience
If you had a job and have chosen to take maternity leave, remember your relationship with your
Sometimes, the best parental exhaustion remedies are compassion and patience. Surrender to the fact there is no perfect parenting technique. If there was, everyone would use it!
Parenting is a lifetime of lessons, and you are trying your best. Recognise all the fantastic work you are doing and how your children. When you notice negative thoughts, take a deep breath, forgive yourself, and focus on the present; you are doing a great job.
Parental Exhaustion Remedies
Parental exhaustion can happen to anyone. What matters is how you respond to it. Do not put it off, as it will not go away without changes. There is help out there.
We are here to provide nutritional support for your family. Check out our organic nutrition range, village resources, and expert recipes to get started.
This article is designed to provide general advice for parents and guardians, for specific health advice, please consult with your child’s healthcare practitioner.