I had not heard of the phrase "parental burnout" until quite recently but as soon as I heard it, I knew that I had experienced it. Fatigue, lack of motivation, and lack of energy to do things that are normally fun and exciting are just a few signs of parental burnout. I know I am not unique in having experienced these symptoms; statistics are abundant about how parents are experiencing burnout more seriously than ever before. And of course, COVID has not helped one bit!
I have been researching ways to prevent parental burnout and have put some practices to use which have been very helpful. I won't claim to be an expert; I am learning as I go and some days are easier than others. That said, in general, I have found some approaches quite effective which I will share below. My hope is to provide you, busy parents, with quick and actionable ways to overcome parental burnout so you can thrive and change the world for the better.
Figure Out the One Thing You Need As Your Sacred Source of Energy
For me, it is my space and time each morning. I need to have 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted time every morning so I can begin my day with intention. I get energy from my quiet morning ritual; I get to reflect on the day before and draw wisdom to apply to my day ahead. I have had lots of epitomai during my morning sessions and I look forward to them the night prior. For you, it might be your daily jog or walk your quiet bath, time with friends, or time alone every afternoon. Whatever it is, protect it, keep it consistent and make it non-negotiable. Your family will soon conform to the routine and will benefit from you being energetic, upbeat, and motivated.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
I have a friend who refuses to read the news for this exact reason. While I am not suggesting that parents should do the same, I am highly recommending that you detach yourself from toxic people and negative energy. Nothing drains a human of light and energy more than negative thoughts and words. If your coworker starts to talk about doom and gloom, politely excuse yourself. If your best friend does the same, kindly and lovingly tell them that you are not into it. Additionally, inject yourself with the positive thought-serum every single day. Find the beauties of your life no matter how hard you have it and remind yourself to appreciate those, every single day.
Create a "To Don't" List
Do you really need to volunteer for that 18th school activity? What about taking that extra assignment at work that no one else raised their hand for? How about organizing your neighborhood's annual garage sale? Put things that you feel pressured to do on your To-Don't list. What you spend your time on should move the needle for you and your family, first. If it doesn't, it does not belong on your To-Do list. Compare the length of your To-Do list with your To-Don't list daily and make sure there are at least as many items on your To-Don't list as it is on the To-Do. Preventing parental burnout means ruthlessly prioritizing.
Outsource What You Can
I get it, outsourcing is expensive but so is your time! I am not suggesting that you should outsource everything in your household (although wouldn't that be nice?!) but perhaps a day of chores or once per month cleaning or organizing your closet. Many people refrain from hiring outside help because let's face it, bringing a perfect stranger into your home and giving them access to the most personal areas inside your walls is a big risk. At Call Emmy, safety is our number one priority, and the type of background checks, skill tests, behavior assessments, and psychometric evaluations that we do on our Fairies are second to none. Our company was founded to help busy parents overcome the overwhelm of modern parenting and take a load (big or small) off of their shoulders. Here is where you can read about how we evaluate our Fairies.
Have a System for Sharing the Load
Studies show that a joint, easy-to-use, and accessible repository for household chores enables more sharing of tasks among household members. You can use the old-fashion paper and pen method and stick the list on the fridge. Or, if you want to use a really cool system that allows free exchange of notes and managing the list dynamically, not to mention other cool features such as texting tasks or reminders, integrating with Google calendar, and much more, you should download Maple. Maple is a startup like us and they are passionate about gender equity within the walls of every home. Their platform is 100% free to use and is available on desktop as well as on mobile.
Final Thoughts on Preventing Parental Burnout
Our society encourages us to do more, be more, and give more. This is all great if our batteries are fully charged and our buckets are full. In order for us to change the world for the better for our children, we have to be able to function as healthy adults. Preventing burnout should be a priority for every parent. Use this guide and get a head start on your preventative action steps and kick burnout to the curb, unapologetically. Your children will thank you for it.
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