4 Tips to Combat Parental Burnout

Posted in Raising Kids
at 2021.01.23
With 0 Comments

Whether the calls come in late in the evening, first thing in the
morning, or somewhere in between, a common element I hear from
parents—and particularly mothers—who are calling the Parental Support
Line is that they are feeling utterly worn out. Given that parenting
even an average or “easy” child is hard work, parenting a more
challenging or acting-out child is enough to run anyone ragged.

The fatigue that can come with mother or fatherhood (or for whom ever
is doing the primary amount of parenting) is certainly not glamorous or
boast-worthy, but it is a legitimate daily struggle for many of us. It
should be said that there is a range of different types of exhaustion.
The spectrum includes—but is not limited to—physical exhaustion, feeling
burnt out, bored, frustrated, and a feeling of being defeated or
fed-up. Of course, it is highly likely that a parent will have some
blend of a few or even all of these. Understanding what type of
tiredness is plaguing you can in turn lead to picking the approach most
likely to help you reconnect with the energy necessary to face the
challenges of parenthood. Remember, you must secure your own oxygen mask
before assisting others!

From what I have heard from callers, the most taxing form of being
tired is one that leaves them feeling disempowered, defeated, and unable
to easily see a solution—trapped in that black and white thinking that
makes you feel hopeless and alone. Once you find yourself stuck in this
tough spot, it’s difficult to conjure up the energy to set the wheels in
motion to change it. Luckily, the small steps that parents make to
change can quickly add up to a complete overhaul and a renewed sense of

How did I get here?

Think back to the time of B.K. (before kids) and recall the images
and dreams that came to mind when contemplating parenthood. Odds are,
even if you were not wearing those dangerous rose-colored glasses, you
likely did not anticipate the degree to which parenthood would stretch
and test your abilities. How could you? Parenthood is an endurance
marathon that you cannot train for, and certain moments of the journey
will be exhilarating while others will sap your energy. Juggling the
demands of a family is an incredible feat that warrants respect and
appreciation—though you may not see a whole lot of this from your kids
until they are much older. In the meantime, finding ways to refuel and
adjust one’s perspective will help maintain sanity and effectiveness,
while allowing us to tap in to the joy that children can bring. Whether
you have recently found yourself bogged down or it is an accumulation
that occurred over the years, here are a handful of tips that might perk
you up.

1. Be a “Good Enough” Parent

While not a new story, the modern day mother is under so much pressure
to “do it all.” As a culture, we tend to value the image of the parent
who pours every ounce of themselves into providing perfect lives for
their children. However, James Lehman would say that being a “good
enough” parent, who is consistently caring for your kids, is the key.
You don’t have to be a flawless Super Mom to raise your children well.
In fact, attempting to always provide an extraordinary experience for
your children at any cost can lead to burn out. So cut yourself some
slack in order to stay the course! Achieving a relative balance between
meeting the needs of your family as well as caring for yourself may
result in expanded reserves for all.

2. Find Support

When you find that you are running on fumes, utilize supports you
already have in place or seek new ones. This can mean calling on
grandparents, friends, or babysitters to provide you with a little
respite from the kids every so often to recharge. Do your best to use
this time to do something restorative for yourself—exercise, relax, have
lunch with your spouse, grab coffee with a friend—whatever lifts your
spirit. Reconnect with the aspects of yourself that are not exhausted
parenting a difficult child.

Since it is not always a readily available option to have someone
else help with childcare, many parents rely on other methods of support.
Online communities like Empowering Parents, as well as social
networking sites, are a lifeline to a growing number of parents who may
otherwise find themselves somewhat isolated. Advising parents who
contact the Parental Support Line has been a distinct privilege, as I
have been able to lend a kind ear to folks all over the country and
beyond. Having supports in place positively impacts the whole family.

3. Expand Your Toolbox

We all have a unique set of parenting tools that we have acquired along
the way. Some were learned from our parents, some from parenting
resources, education or even media, while others may have been purely
intuitive. If you are similar to most people, you likely have some
skills that are more effective than others. So, while we are just doing
the best we can for our children, experimenting with new approaches to
managing behavior may help you discover what will work best in your
situation. There are resources online, parenting classes, and counselors
who can help. James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program is another
effective tool for parents. It’s designed to provide you with concrete
tools that they can begin utilizing immediately.

At the same time, it is important to understand that change is a
process—certain behaviors may change immediately, while others will
require more time. It is frustrating and disempowering not to know how
to handle the challenges that arise with raising kids and there is no shame in trying to better equip oneself. Making this step could be exactly what is needed to pick up momentum.

4. Recognize and Focus on the Positive

When someone calls the Parental Support Line and shares an extensive
list of problems they are having with their child in rapid-fire style,
finding the right moment to inquire about what is going well for them
can do wonders to soften their stance. When people are discouraged and
tired, it is difficult to see the positive. In those trying times,
practice reminding yourself of some of the areas in which your child
excels or is making progress. Acknowledging small successes and building
off of strengths are the steppingstones to scaling mountains. Do not
forget the power of praise and recognition!

I think the following quote from Mother Teresa explains this aspect
of parenting beautifully: “Do not think that love, in order to be
genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without
getting tired.”

My interpretation of her message is not that we should literally be
able to love without experiencing some fatigue from the output of
energy, but rather, that it is our personal responsibility to be as
balanced as possible in order to consistently offer love. It is
inevitable that parents will encounter stress during the process of
raising their childrenComputer Technology Articles, but it is up to each of us to care for ourselves
so that we may best care our families.

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