Do you feel exhausted and impatient as a working parent trying to raise your child? Do you judge yourself as a bad parent? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you ever feel overburdened in your parenting role and wish someone could press the pause button for you? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you might be interested in learning more about parental burnout.
A parent’s role is one of the most challenging and demanding in any person’s life, and sometimes it is met without adequate preparation and family support.1 Parents juggle many tasks at home and work every day, which puts them at risk of burnout.
“Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”2 Parental burnout is a psychological condition resulting from long-term stress in the parenting role. It is characterized by extreme exhaustion from the parental role, emotional distance from children, and a loss of parental fulfillment, all of which contrast with how they felt before about parenting.3,4 Usually, it starts with emotional exhaustion.
Parenting can be particularly challenging for single working parents. They have more demands placed on them, less time available to them, and possibly fewer resources, with little or no help. All of this puts them at a higher risk of parental burnout.5 Parental burnout, however, differs from one parent to the next and is influenced by the availability of resources they have and how well they are able to manage their time and balance their needs and those of their children.4
Combating Parental Burnout as a Single Working Parent
Parental burnout, if not addressed, can lead to severe physical and mental health issues. Some include brain fog, depression, forgetfulness, and sleep disorders.7 It doesn’t stop there; it could impact your relationship with your child. There is a higher likelihood of burned-out parents insulting, scolding, spanking, swearing, and screaming at their children.6 As a result, children may experience serious mental health problems, which could hinder their overall development.6
Here are some tips that can help combat burnout as a single working parent.1,3,4,5,6,7
1. Seek Help From Available Resources: If you are a single working parent, juggling a lot of tasks at home and at work can be challenging. Therefore, when you feel overwhelmed, do not shy away from asking for help from reliable resources, such as friends, family, and coworkers. If you do not have reliable support, you can turn to local support groups where you can meet people sailing in the same boat as you and receive assistance. If you are able, you could, for example, ask your parents or a trusted friend to watch your child while you go on a work trip, or use a grocery delivery service and avoid grocery shopping to save that little time for yourself.
2. Prioritize Self-Care and Take Breaks: When asked to prioritize, many parents put themselves at the bottom of the list. Prioritizing your children, as well as other important things like work and finances, is crucial. However, prioritizing and caring for yourself can help make you feel good about yourself and give you the energy you need to spend quality time with your child. Even though it’s natural to question whether you can find time to unwind and care for yourself as a single working parent, try to find a few minutes here and there. Whether it’s reading a book, catching up on sleep, or something else, practice self-care in a way that works for you. You could also teach your child your favorite hobby so that they may enjoy it with you.
3. Identify Stressors and Work on Decreasing Them: Parental burnout may affect you more or less depending on how you manage your needs, priorities, and resources while raising your child. Therefore, identifying the primary sources of stress and working to reduce them is crucial. If you are able, give yourself the okay to say no to things. If money is an issue, take the time to assess which expenses are more frequent and whether they are necessary. Then, create a budget and set aside funds for an emergency. You can also establish consistent routines for you and your child, like morning and bedtime routines, or write down daily goals for yourself to help lessen some stress.
4. Avoid Negative Self-Talk and Skip the Guilt: If you’ve been judging yourself as a bad parent, blaming yourself for falling short of your child’s expectations, or feeling guilty for taking that vacation away from your child, stop right now. Negative self-talk can have an impact on your mental health and can also affect your child. So, try to keep a positive attitude. For instance, you don’t have to blame yourself if you couldn’t make your child’s favorite breakfast because you worked late last night. It’s completely fine, and you can talk to your child about it and promise to make it another day. Avoid feeling guilty about taking some me time away from your child because these small indulgences are necessary for you to feel relaxed and content.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is NOT medical advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, provide medical or behavioral advice, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, condition, or behavior. You should consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your child’s development to make a medical diagnosis, determine a treatment for a medical condition, or obtain other related advice.
Are you looking for more parenting tips and activities to do with your child? Do you wish to engage your child in learning through fun activities? If so, you should check out BYJU’s FutureSchool Blog.
1. Sadziak Aleksandra, W. W. W. M. (2019). Parental burnout as a health determinant in mothers raising disabled children. Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity, 11(3) from https://www.balticsportscience.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1276&context=journal 2. Burnout | Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout
3. Lin, G., Szczygieł, D., Hansotte, L., roskam, i., & Mikolajczak, M. (2020). PERFECTIONISM AND PARENTAL BURNOUT, from https://psyarxiv.com/xn7qz
4. Frontiers | A Theoretical and Clinical Framework for Parental Burnout: The Balance Between Risks and Resources (BR2). (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00886/full
5. Single Parenting Stress: How to Beat Burnout. (2022). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/single-parenting-stress-how-to-beat-burnout-5216180
6. Examining the Epidemic of Working Parental Burnout and Strategies to Help OFFICE OF THE CHIEF WELLNESS OFFICER and COLLEGE OF NURSING. (2022), from https://wellness.osu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/2022/05/OCWO_ParentalBurnout_3674200_Report_FINAL.pdf
7. Parental Burnout: How it Affects Your Mental Health and What You Can Do to Treat and Prevent It. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/what-to-know-about-parental-burnout