Parental burnout: Mother holding baby while resting her hand against her forehead in show of discomfort

How to Avoid Parental Burnout: 9 Ways to Stay Ahead

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Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Samantha Flores

Being a parent is tough and can quickly lead to parental burnout. Parenting can be particularly challenging with young kids who are fully dependent on you. Trying to also juggle housework, a job, and other commitments may seem impossible. You may find yourself having to give up hobbies, socializing, and other things that bring you joy.

To top it all off, you may not be getting enough sleep if you’re having to wake up for night feeds or disturbances. All of this work and responsibility combined with no relaxation and freedom can lead to parental burnout.

Parental burnout is when you become so exhausted that you are forced to take a rest. Burnout can cause all of your hard work to unravel and inevitably friends and family will have to step in – whether you want them to or not.

9 Ways to Avoid Parental Burnout

It’s important to not let the stress of parenthood reach the burnout. But just how can you prevent parental burnout?

Talk to someone

A problem shared is often a problem solved. Sometimes just being able to vent our feelings can be a huge burden off our shoulders because we no longer feel alone. Other people can also offer motivation and encouragement that can make it easier to overcome the stresses of parenthood.

Depression and burnout are closely linked, so in some cases, it may be worth seeing a therapist to get treatment for depression. Alternatively, you may find that talking to close friends and family who you trust can get you out of your low.

Accept help

If people offer their help to you and you need it, be willing to accept their help. Many of us think that we have to prove ourselves as parents by doing everything ourselves. In reality, parenthood is not a one-person job.

Historically, raising kids would be something that extended family and the whole community would help with. It is only relatively recently that we have adopted an attitude where the parents must do everything.

Ask for help

This relates to the previous point but involves going one step further than accepting help. Sometimes people won’t offer help, or won’t offer the right help. If you feel parental burnout is approaching, it is important that you ask for help so that you can get the break you need.

Most close friends and family will be happy to help if you ask. This could include asking someone to babysit the kids, asking someone to help with housework or even asking for financial support. 

Lower your expectations

If you feel you have no time to manage everything, consider whether your expectations are too high. It’s okay to fall behind on the laundry, or allow your kids to skip a bath, or not vacuum the carpet for a week if it means that you can get a small break.

Nobody expects a parent to be constantly on top of everything. Focus on the most important pressing needs. As your kids get older, you’ll be able to get back on top of everything.

Eliminate guilt

You will be forced to prioritize things as a parent and you will make mistakes. This can lead to guilt, which can drain us further. Having some guilt can be a good thing, as it shows you that you are a caring parent who wants to do the best for your child. However, too much guilt can be self-destructive and can become part of the reason for parental burnout. Make sure that you’re not wallowing in it. 

Instead, focus on what you are doing right and what you have accomplished. Every day is full of small victories that many of us overlook. Think about everything you have achieved independently and everything you have learned and remind yourself of this when you’re feeling guilty. This can also help when tackling postpartum depression

Watch what you eat/drink

We tend to feel more stressed and exhausted when we’re not eating and drinking the right things. It’s important that you’re not just eating regularly, but also getting all the nutrients you need. Don’t try to get by on unhealthy snacks and fast food. Look into healthy snacks and healthy quick meals.

Make sure to also go easy on coffee when trying to beat exhaustion, and equally be careful of relying on alcohol to make you relaxed. The comedown from each will only make you more exhausted. 

Set boundaries

It’s possible to be too attentive to your kids’ needs. They need to realize that sometimes you have to prioritize other tasks over playing with them or picking them up. Boundaries are hard to set with very young kids because they don’t understand them.

However, as your kids get older you can start to teach them to not come into your bed in the middle of the night, to occupy themselves while you’re cooking/cleaning, and to give you privacy while using the bathroom. This can help you avoid parental burnout.

Multi-task efficiently

There are ways in which you can multi-task to get things done while looking after your kids. This includes finding ways to exercise with kids or letting kids help with housework by turning it into a game.

The key is to know when to multitask and when not to multi-task – some tasks may take longer or be more tiring if you try to do them while also carrying out another task.

Don’t voluntarily sacrifice sleep

You need your sleep to restore your energy. There will be times when your kids keep you awake, in which case you have no option but to sacrifice sleep. What you don’t want to do is start staying up until 2am just so that you can get some downtime to yourself, or work nights while looking after kids during the day to earn some extra money. By prioritizing sleep, you’ll give yourself more energy to face each day and you can fend off parental burnout.