• Ashley Simpson

Parental Burnout

Since the beginning of this pandemic we have been faced with new challenges. Families are staying inside and the burden of care that used to be spread between many is now primarily on the parents. Schools are closed. Many day cares are closed. Many families are social distancing, so aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends are not able to help with childcare. Parents are still being expected to work, teach their children, and do all of the care giving. As well as manage their house.

This is where burnout comes in to play. Burnout was already a concern before the pandemic. With the added social distancing, and therefore isolation, that is happening with the Pandemic, parents are much more at risk for burnout.

Burnout can look differently on different people. Some common symptoms:

-feeling negative and being unable to shake those negative feelings or thoughts

-feeling depressed, not wanting to get out of bed

-not being interested in things that used to give you joy

-irritability, anger at things that maybe would not have made you angry before

-you may find that your use of substances is increasing

-you may be overeating, or not interested in food at all

Here are a few more resources to read about parental and caregiver burnout... articles about parental burnout here and here, and articles about caregiver burnout here and here.

So what do we do about burnout?

1. Recognize the symptoms. The first step is you are reading this article. Think about how you have been feeling and ask yourself if this applies to you.

2. Self-care. I know, I know. Everyone has been talking about self-care. If you follow my IG, I have been talking about self-care a lot. That should tell you how important it is! Because of the stressors and changes with the pandemic, the things that you may have been doing to take care of yourself may not be available.

Think creatively about what you need. If you used to go get a pedicure, why not get a tub or large tupperware, fill it with some warm water and epsom salts, go out on the back deck, and give yourself some pedicure time? If you like to have quiet time to read, why not drive somewhere, park your car, and read your book in quiet for a few hours. If you like to exercise and your gym is closed, try running or biking outside.

3. Re-visit your expectations. Think about how you view your kids, their schooling, the house, family meals, etc. And think about where your expectations can relax. Or if you and your partner can talk about how you can both pitch in to handle family chores. This is an important time for couples to work together and manage the household as a team.

4. Talk it out. Tell someone how you are feeling. Talk to a family member, friend, mom from your kids' class, just talk to someone. Letting out some of your feelings can help, and you will probably find that you are not alone.

5. If you recognize you are having symptoms of burnout, you add in more self-care, you adjust your expectations, you talk about your feelings, and things are still just feeling off, you may need to reach out to your doctor. You may need a little more help to regulate your mood, especially if you have a history of depression, anxiety, etc.

Be well.


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