Marriages break up far too frequently around all of us, but probably one of the most common reasons for this is plain and simple parental burnout – a situation that parents can easily prevent. As a parent you may feel the pressure of having to juggle a career, juggle being a parent and juggle being a partner all too consuming for the limited hours in your day.
But if you look closely, parenthood need not be a juggling act – unless you have reached the dreaded parental burnout stage. So be prepared and avoid it at all costs because the price is too high to pay. Keeping focused on taking care of yourself and your relationship with your partner plays a massive role in being a healthy parent.
Physical and psychological
Put simply, burnout arises from situations where our normal methods of coping become weighed down or overwhelmed. Parental burnout is a culmination of both a physical and psychological condition caused from excessive levels of stress and exhaustion. With it comes depression, anxiety, feelings of anger and of being out of control.
Lifestyle changes play into this as the dream picture of -happy families becomes entangled with the agonising reality of sleep deprivation, a heightened noise factor in the home, less money and unpredictable lifestyle patterns. The body will often react by decreasing its immune function, showing an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and sleeplessness. Apart from the obvious decreased quality time you find with your partner, the relationship can often suffer, if not diminish altogether.
Parental burnout is a very real and dangerous condition. Steps need to be put in place before the burnout becomes full blown.
- Not only do parents need time out together, without the kids, but they also need time out alone, to do something that is really pampering to them whether it be vegging on the couch with a soppy movie and a bowl of popcorn, or taking off to the spa or even for a game of golf. Whatever it is, the important thing is that you just do it!
- By listening to your own needs and not just that of your childrens’ you will find the chance to replenish yourself.
- Don’t try to be super parent! No one can be so it’s pointless even trying – and the parents at the park you think are super parents are just faking it! Cut yourself some slack, you’re probably a better parent than you actually even think you are, anyway.
- Learn to use exercise or a meditation of sorts to reduce your stress levels and increase your quality of life.
- Make a date with your partner and stick to it – without calling home to check in with the babysitter. This is the time that couples really need to nurture their relationships because with so much happening all around, if your relationship is not still the most important aspect of your lives, you could risk losing it.
- No one will think poorly of you if you ask for help, and you’ll find others will be happy to watch the children for an hour or two. This could include calling on grandparents, friends, or babysitters – in fact, anyone you know you can trust, to provide you with a little reprieve from the children every now and again so you can recharge your batteries, so to speak. It is important that you use this time in a way to rejuvenate you.
- Some parents believe in allowing their children to stay up really late. This is not necessarily a good idea as not only do children thrive of routine and structure, but by setting them reasonable bedtimes and insisting on this, you and your partner will get a little time together in the evenings too.
Whatever you do, remember that life can catch you up before you’ve got to live it. Don’t let it happen to you. Keep things in perspective so you can dictate to life.