Parenting woes: Whether you feel mild fatigue or are close to a burnout, here are eight tips to prevent emotional exhaustion
The chronic stress of parenting can turn into parental burnout, which can be emotionally exhausting
Parents might not think of providing for, taking care of and guiding the all-round development of children as a “job” — in fact, most parents don’t even think of it as work. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that bringing up healthy children in safe spaces is hard work. In fact, the chronic stress of parenting can turn into parental burnout, which can be emotionally exhausting. We spoke with Geetika Kapoor, consultant school and child Psychologist, to understand the emotional needs of parents and how they can be met. The following are her recommendations:
Emotional exhaustion can be a big deal
It's important for parents to learn to recognise the signs of emotional exhaustion. If you are irritable through most of the waking hours of the day, have anger outbursts, feel emotionally numb, feel like withdrawing from the world and people, have a pessimistic outlook towards situations and feel incapable of concentrating on one thing at a time, it’s quite likely that you’re facing an emotional burnout.
While you might think it's just a phase that'll end itself or that you can power through this, emotional exhaustion is not that easy to resolve if you don’t give it enough attention. Yes, you still need to take care of your child/children and there’s technically no demarcated time or space to take a break. But you still need to take some time and work towards self-care because this basic premise will help you take better care of your children and others who depend on you.
Emotional care tips you absolutely need
The following eight tips can help you take better emotional care and deal with emotional exhaustion as well as all types of burnouts better:
1. Physical self-care is a good starting point because it soothes you without requiring you to immediately deal with emotions and feelings — which can be overwhelming. A spa date, a favourite meal by yourself or just a massage can help you relax physically and take some of that stress away.
2. Identify situations under your control and take a step back if you face a situation where your child refuses to accept help or wants to do things their own way. You can still be nurturing in a way that resonates with your sense of care, but forcing your decisions might not help you or your child and can be even more stressful.
3. Parents always feel there was more they could have done, but you need to recognise that there are just 24 hours to your day as well and draw the line after a point. Learning to go to sleep with some tasks or chores still left undone is something you need to make peace with, for your physical and emotional wellbeing.
4. Listen to your body for signs of physical or mental fatigue. Your mind and body are sending these signals for a reason. You are nearing exhaustion, and need to take a break — short or long — immediately to avoid more complications.
5. Give sleep the priority it deserves, because your system needs this downtime to rejuvenate and be able to get back to work the next day. Stick to a fixed bedtime, take a warm shower, dim the lights, stay away from blue lights and caffeine, and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Accept that while children need your help, you too deserve some. There’s no shame in asking for help, particularly in situations where you’re overwhelmed or your family is going through a stressful event or circumstances.
7. Instead of just waiting on your children, involve them in your family routines and teach them chores and habits as they grow older. Remember that cooking meals, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, caring for a sick family member and getting groceries are not just chores. They are life skills your child will need to perform on their own sooner or later, so let them learn and let this ease your life a little too.
8. Learn to accept that every parent learns on the job and there will be mistakes now and then. Instead of beating yourself up about them, learn from them and move on.
For more information, read our article on Emotional care for parents.
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