“I’m so over this.”
“I give up.”
“I don’t care.”
“Do what you want.”
Are you feeling trapped by your life? Do you feel weighed down by the demands and responsibilities that are placed on your shoulders? Do you feel resentful and exhausted; like you can’t ever get a break? Are you impatient? Irritable? Depressed?
You may be suffering from parenting burnout. Here is an extensive list of some of the tell tale signs. Some of them include:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion.
- Detachment and cynicism.
- A feeling of inadequacy.
Parenting is hard work. And dare I say, even more so as a mother. We are women. Women are expected to be natural nurturers. We are expected to be able to give every ounce of our being to our children, and still be able to keep up with the house, hold down a job, look presentable, act appreciative, or have the energy to give to our partners (if we have one). There is so much pressure to be on at all times. So much pressure to be everything to everyone and still manage to keep our wits about us. I’m not sure whether society puts this expectation on us, or we put this expectation on ourselves because society does. Either way, it is too much. We are not superheroes, no matter how much we strive to be.
All of this pressure will inevitably lead to burnout and/or depression. Those feelings of regret, resentment, irritation, and impatience are signs of impending or active burnout. It isn’t some sudden onset disturbance. It is insidious. It can creep up and into your heart without you being any the wiser, until suddenly… SNAP!
What is burnout?
“Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”
How can I avoid or overcome burnout?
You can overcome burnout by taking care of you. I know, that is easier said than done. The only way to keep that light inside shining brightly is by making your mental and physical health a priority.
Some ways that you can take care of yourself are:
- Eating nutritious foods frequently. Oftentimes, weight gain or weight loss accompany burnout and depression. You can fight those by grazing on foods that are good for your body. I like to drink smoothies with fruits and green, leafy veggies together. Snack on nuts. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Burnout can cause a loss of appetite, but all that does is cause your body to become highly alert and go into survival mode; storing fats to keep you alive.
- Sleep. This one sounds like a cruel joke for parents with young children. We are currently in a phase of the toddler wanting to nurse every breathing second of the night which equals no solid, quality sleep for mama. It can feel helpless when you desperately want to sleep, but you aren’t allowed to by forces out of your control. Lately, I’ve been beyond exhausted, but still have trouble falling asleep, and when I finally do fall asleep, the toddler is rousing to nurse. I’ve taken this as my sign that burnout is creeping in. I have felt all of those feelings above, so I am taking this list to heart and taking care of myself. If you are feeling the effects of exhaustion and burnout and you have the choice to stay up past the kids’ bedtime or sleep, choose sleep. If you have to choose between cleaning the house or napping with babies, nap with the babies. Sleep is essential for greater longevity, youthfulness, creativity, patience, and allowing your body to heal and grow.
- Exercise. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of “exercise” as most people know it; lifting weights, running on a treadmill, climbing stairs, etc. These things feel boring and tedious. Instead, soak up the healing powers of nature and go for a walk/run/jog on a nature trail.
- Meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are scientifically proven to actually change the structure of your brain; creating more gray matter (which is a good thing). Here is a way to meditate using those natural healing powers.
- Take inventory of your life. Look at all aspects of your life. Make a list, to make it easier to view. What makes you happy? What makes you miserable? What situations stress you out? Are there any activities that you could cut out? Are there any areas where you are wasting precious time that could be used for things that you truly care about? This is a process, not something that can or should be achieved in one sitting. Burnout doesn’t happen in a day, so expecting to eradicate it within a day will lead to disappointment.
- Do or discover things that bring you joy. And then do them often. I really like to create. Whether it be photography, painting, sewing, or writing, I feel refreshed if I do it. Sometimes I do these things with my kids right beside me doing it too. Other times I do it when I get a chance for a moment alone. If you can’t think of any hobbies or activities that bring you joy, discover some. Sign up for a random dance class, book club, rock climbing meet up, or anything that seems interesting, even if you’ve never done it before.
The only way to fight burnout is by making yourself a priority. You matter too. Your kids seeing you taking time to take care of you will set the foundation for them to take care of them as they get older.
What are some of your favorite ways to take care of you? If you are struggling to take care of you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we can brainstorm ways for you to find yourself and your spark for life again.