Anyone can experience symptoms of burnout, but I feel that it’s so common for parents and it isn’t talked about enough. We just take it as part and parcel of the role and often feel guilty for experiencing it. I’m just a Muslim editor, not a mental health practitioner; however, I would like to share my two cents’ worth in this blog of how I cope with these feelings.
For those of you who are not aware of what parental burnout is, I’ve listed a few of the common symptoms below:
- Being unable to concentrate on simple tasks
- Feeling like a failure or like you’re not a good parent
- Having a short temper and feeling irritable
- Feeling exhausted (physically or mentally)
- Having a foggy mind
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling like you need some distance from your children.
I’ve experienced all of the above in the past two years of being a parent and I know now that though these feelings are completely normal, I can do things to avoid feeling burnt out.
I feel like sometimes small changes that we incorporate into our daily routines can help as coping mechanisms and sometimes we need the bigger changes that are key to helping us feel better and more balanced. I would like to share my coping mechanisms with you. Some of which I try to use regularly and others I have used in the past.
Tips To Help
- Try to get some fresh air everyday: as the sun is out more and the temperature is better, I feel myself taking advantage of this more and more. My son absolutely loves spending time outside, so I feel like being in nature is huge for my mental health. When I’m out, it helps clear my mind and I naturally have a more positive attitude to motherhood and everyday life.
- Days out to help you reset: this can be done by yourself or with your family. Though I enjoy a few hours to myself, I enjoy whole days out more with my husband and son. This past weekend we visited Bath (myself and my husband can’t get enough of it!) and it was so helpful taking time out of our normal surroundings and routines to just appreciate and be thankful for the blessings that we do have. This especially helped me because I feel like I have more focus in the run up to Ramadan.
- Don’t expect perfection from yourself: so, I’m actually the worst at this. My expectations of myself are sky-high and sometimes just so unrealistic. So, this is a reminder that it’s okay to not tick every box as a parent. Work to your strengths and know your weaknesses—I am not a morning person, and it’s the time that I struggle most with irritability and snappiness. So, to make my morning easier, I have started to allow my son to have some screen time whilst I sort myself out and have my morning coffee. I used to try to juggle having my own breakfast and trying to keep my son entertained, just to avoid screen time; however, it just wasn’t feasible. I realise that though I am not perfect, I am exactly what my son needs. Sometimes, this looks like screen time in the morning whilst I try to feel more human again!
- Prioritise: this shares similarities with the above point about perfection, in that we often place unrealistic expectations on ourselves as parents. We’re not expected to get everything done in a day, so this is a reminder to prioritise your tasks. Which tasks are at the top of your list to get done? As I’m trying to balance my proofreading and copyediting business with being a full-time parent, I always have a to-do list and not every task is ticked off every single day. However, at the end of the day I feel a sense of accomplishment, as I have completed what I considered to be key for the day.
- Don’t compare yourself to others: yes, it may look like someone else carries the load better, but I feel like parenting never looks the same. I have found that I have become more comfortable with the way I parent because I realise and acknowledge that it works for us as a family. There are so many factors that influence parenting styles, such as cultural expectations, family dynamics, and daily routines to name a few. So, to protect my own mental health, I try not to compare my method of parenting with anyone else’s.
- Rely on your village if you have one: I appreciate that not everybody is blessed with having friends and family nearby who are happy to watch their children when they need some time. But if you have a village then use it. Use it to the extent that you’re comfortable with; for me, this isn’t more than once a week as this is what I prefer. Also, remember that taking time for self-care helps us parent better.
- Speak to a professional if it gets too much: It wasn’t some life-changing moment when I realised that I needed to seek help. It was when I realised that the symptoms became all too familiar to me and were impacting my day-to-day life and relationships. Speaking to a professional helped me identify my negative thought processes and the pitfalls of them. It also gave me the tools to help cope with the feelings of irritability and overwhelm.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and that these tips are useful for you as a parent. I have listed below a few resources that I have used to write this blog, as well as more information on parental burnout.