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A REALISTIC Parent’s Guide to Burnout Recovery

A dark image of a person's profile resting their head on the wall.

This is probably a topic that you have been hearing a lot about. We keep reading that “everyone is burnt out.” While it is nice that people are talking about burn out so much, there are rarely ever tangible ways listed to help that would actually fit into your lifestyle. I mean really, when was the last time you could take a bubble bath without your children interrupting? When was the last day you took off work to actually relax and not to drive your child to an appointment?

Parents get burnt out just like everyone else but it can be hard to relate to some of the ways to alleviate burnout when you just don’t have the time to do them. While we wish every parent got an all expenses paid trip to lay in the sun and recharge-that's sadly not the reality many of us live in. That is why we broke down 5 steps that you can take to help address and alleviate some of the burnout you have been feeling. We promise facials and long walks on the beach are nowhere on this list!

These down and dirty tips will help you get on the right path to alleviating your burnout but give yourself some grace as you put them into practice. It didn’t take you just one day to burn out and it won’t take you just one day to solve it. If you are concerned about your mental health the number one thing you can do to help yourself is to seek professional help.

1. Recognize the signs of burnout

It is important that you can recognize that what you are feeling is actually burnout and not another underlying issue. You may think someone who is burnt out is just generally sleepier than normal and maybe even a little crabby. While fatigue and irritability are both very common signs of burnout they are far from the only ones. A person who is burnt out may be having trouble sleeping, having stomach issues, feeling shortness of breath, and much more. The very first step that you should do to address burnout is to make sure that it is actually what you are dealing with.

A person writing their burn out list with a pen and paper and a beverage

2. Identify your stressors

After you figure out that you are burnt out the next helpful step would be to sit down and write down your stressors. We get it, there is barely enough paper in the world for a parent to list out everything that causes them stress- but give it a try. And we mean everything! Work related stress (be as granular as you want and list out specific projects/tasks that are causing you stress), parenting related stress, relationship stress, financial stress, etc.

A good way to do this is to think about an average day, as you go through all of the motions in your head that you generally do write down the stressful ones. If you want you can even go a step farther and highlight the ones that cause you an excessive amount of stress.

While it can be overwhelming to do this and look at a piece of paper full of stress but it can also be an empowering and cathartic experience. Look at all of the stuff that you have to do on a daily basis and truly give yourself a pat on the back. Parenting is not easy, especially through a pandemic and you deserve an award for everything that you do.

3. Evaluate what stressors can be removed

Even if you did have the time to take a day off - it would not help your burnout long term. The current tasks that you do have burnt you out and if you don’t change how you are doing things you will burn out again, or make it worse. You need to figure out what those sources of burnout are so you can address them and figure out a way for them to cause you less stress than they currently do.

Once you have your list written out take a good hard look at it and ask yourself some questions. What tasks are essential and which ones are not? What task’s outcomes are maybe not worth the stress it causes you? What tasks are time sensitive? What tasks could be taken on by someone else? What tasks are not that necessary at the end of the day? Be honest with yourself as you think through some of these questions.

Once you answer these questions look for the things you can change or weed out of your day. Be brutal. It's ok to take things off your list temporarily until you catch your breath. You will be a better parent, partner, and employee if you get those overly stressful and somewhat unnecessary tasks off of your to do list.

A black and white image of the backs of people in a group hug.

4. Lean on your support system

Some things are overly stressful but also entirely necessary. For those items consider who could help you with them? You do not have to do everything alone. You may feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders but one person cannot run a household by themselves.

This could also be a really great time to open up a healthy dialogue in your household. Talk to your partner and your kids about how you are feeling. Tell them that you are really struggling with burn out and you could use some help. Not only will this hopefully help with your burnout by getting some of those stressors off your list but it shows your children that you prioritize your mental health, and you are okay to talk about the topic. This will show them that you are someone they can go to when they are struggling because you get it, and you know that those struggles are valid.

If you have an older child who is able to, ask if they would handle car pool or dinner one night a week. If your partner passes a pizza shop on the way home maybe they could pick up dinner one night a week. If you need some alone time, consider asking a trusted neighbor to watch your kids after school and maybe even offer to watch their kids on a different day so you both get a little break. Assign chores so your kids step up more around the house.

5. Take care of your mental AND physical health

Mental health and physical health are BOTH very important in general, but especially when dealing with burnout. You cannot keep pouring from an empty glass so right now it’s really important that you are taking care of and nurturing yourself. This is a time where you want to try to be in tune with your mind and body as much as possible. A very common symptom of burnout is experiencing low energy levels so you want to do everything in your power to combat that.

Just like you worry about your children getting the nutrients they need - make sure you do too. Don’t skip meals because you are too busy and when you do eat meals try and make sure that they are giving you the nutrients that can help carry you through the rest of your day. Just like you would think ahead and bring granola bars in case your kids get hungry - take care of yourself in that way. Add in a couple of extra fruits and veggies, and a whole lot of water throughout your own day.

The legs of a walker in the outdoors

Get your body moving when you can too. Take the dog on a long walk around the neighborhood with some headphones and your favorite song/podcast on. Get up 15 minutes early and start your morning with some low impact stretching. Look up free workouts on YouTube to do while you have a couple of minutes to yourself. Move your body in a way that you enjoy. This physical activity will do wonders for your mental clarity and your overall energy levels.

Being a parent is tough, and functioning while burnt out is also very hard. Doing both at once feels nearly impossible. Do not wait to address your burn out until you have “more time” because you never will. Prioritize yourself and address it before it gets even worse - you deserve it.

Are you concerned about your child's mental health but not sure where to turn?

Are you a parent who's overwhelmed trying to help your child who has been diagnosed with a mental health challenge or you're concerned that they may struggle with one?

Are you tired of the red tape you get as you just try to get your child the help they need?

At the Parent Alliance we get it. We've been there and we are here to support you. Join the FREE community of parents just like you here.


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