Friday, July 16, 2010

Suffering from Parental Burnout? Here’s How to Cope

Parenting is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the world. In most jobs, once you spot the signs of burnout, you know that it's time to re-evaluate whether or not the job is right for you. Obviously, with parenting, that is not an option!

Don’t worry, you are not alone. Parental burnout is actually common. Working all day and then coming home to keep the house organized AND tending to your children’s needs is a lot of work. Just like anything that you devote your best efforts to, it can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. In fact, most of the signs of parental burnout are similar to those of any other job burnout. Daniel Buccino, a director of the Baltimore Psychotherapy Institute, agrees that it's probably the hardest job you'll ever have.

According to Robin F. Goodman, PhD., Director of the A Caring Hand, Billy Esposito Foundation Bereavement Center, parental burnout is often linked to the desire to be a good parent. But if you are in chronic stress, it will make it increasingly difficult to be the best parent that you can be.

It is a common dilemma, but it doesn't have to be the norm for you. Here are some tips to help you address parental burnout:

Pacing is key. View parenting as a marathon, not a sprint. You need to pace yourself. Not everything has to be done all at once.

Find a support group. It's not always easy to admit that we need help but for the sake of your sanity, it’s okay to call on family and friends for support.

Realistic expectations. Keep the expectations of yourself as a parent, and those of your children reasonable and manageable.

Don’t compare. Don’t aspire to be somebody you’re not. It’s very unlikely that your neighbor is Super Mom is real life.

“Me” Time. Believe it or not, you do need that vacation. It’s actually good for your over-all well-being when you take a break every now and then. If you really cannot afford to go anywhere, then at least make sure to take a few minutes or a few hours of rest each day.

Distractions. Especially for parents of little ones, sometimes a little time out helps. If your daughter loves to play dress-up, then you can get her some fancy hair accessories to style her hair with so she can pretend to be a princess. If your active boy fantasizes about riding a spaceship, then you can get him toy space shuttles for him to play with. When the little ones are occupied with something, it gives you a little freedom to relax.

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