How do I stop parental burnout?

What's Covered

Have you heard of parental burnout?  If some of us can experience professional burnout caused by our 9-5 jobs, imagine a 24/7, nonstop and no days-off career- Parenthood. Parenting is a gift and blessing. All will agree that it is a remarkable role, however, the daily struggles we face as parents is another topic. It gets the best of us and we may feel desperately helpless. Breathe. It is just a phase. A condition that we can win over. Adequately defining and identifying the signs of parental burnout can further enlighten us to seek helpful ways on how we can avoid or stop it.

What is parental burnout?

Are you juggling a lot of stuff at home and at work? Are you getting irritated and losing patience with almost everything around you including on petty things? Do you often yell at your kids or even at your spouse? Have you lost motivation because of too much responsibilities? Are you experiencing extreme frustration around your household? If your answer is yes to all of these, you might be experiencing parental burnout and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Defining parental burnout

Parental burnout is real and it often catch us off guard. According to studies and research by Moïra Mikolajczak, Ph.D., parental burnout is an overwhelming exhaustion triggered by physical, mental and emotional stress. Questions of “are you a good parent?” or “are you effective enough as a parent?” haunt your thoughts the whole time. No matter what you do, you always second guess yourself. You are more inclined to doubt your parenting style.[1]

Telltale signs of parental burnout

The increasing demands around you, the fear of uncertainties and having no outlet to vent may lead to mistrust and cloudy judgement of your own parental ability. It paralyzes you to the core. You eventually create distance to your very own child(ren) then withdraws from role because of dissatisfaction. You suddenly disconnect either physically or emotionally because of these high conflicts with everyone. The emotional ambivalence, nurturing love and care mixed with guilt, loneliness and anxiousness weighs you more down. This feeling becomes prevalent and it generally affects your day-to-day life.

Some parents may be walking on a slippery and very thin ice. Some might even be at verge of breaking. You and I both know that it can lead to severe damages and lasting consequences to ourselves, the people around us, most especially to our better half and of course our child(ren). Reverse the cycle before you sink and drown in this condition, let us find ways to stop parental burnout by changing the elements of the cycle. [2] Remember, this is not a long-term life sentence. You can do something and do it now.

What are the helpful ways to stop burnout?

Cliché as it may seem, prevention is always better than cure. The stressful events in our lives make the world around us move too fast, we forget what matters most around us. Try to pause if you must. Stress is impossible to eliminate, but we can lessen it by the way we react to different circumstances in our life and our ability to improve how we feel about it. Good news, here are some essentially effective and practical ways on how you can avoid or stop parental burnout.

Avoid comparison

Parenthood is not a competition nor an elusive club of the perfect. There is no such thing, so stop being too obsessed with perfection. You just need to be present as parents, not perfect. It is like chasing the wind nonstop. If you keep being distracted and looking for what you do not have as a parent, you will always be in utmost lack—and that is the trap we want to avoid. Comparing lifestyle and household setting is useless and unwinnable. It is pointless also to pretend and to stand taller than you are. Comparison is like a prison without walls. In this so-called day and age of social media, it is so inevitable not to be pressured to portray a certain image. We see overachievers here and there, so we often equate what we see as a norm for perfect parenting. We all know that it is curated just to satisfy our hunger for perfection. We tend to gravitate to these ideas, but in reality, we all know that perfection does not exist. Not all you see out in the internet is real. DO NOT COMPARE.

Comparison Trap=
This set of videos will give you a whole new perspective about the crossroads and truths about comparison. It is detailed and compiled for easier understanding on how it can be subtle at times and eventually get you trapped in a cycle. This is will help you resolve deep conflicts within yourself, so you can avoid the trap of comparison. It definitely great for everyone, most specially for parents.

Focus on your own

Keeping up with the Joneses is an exhausting and taxing route to take. Impressing other people is also tiresome.  Our role and style as a parent are uniquely suitable for our own family. We might peek at our friends’ parenting style every now and then. Yeah, sure! But keep in mind that is their own parenting style. That style works for their family. If you like theirs, pick-up bits and pieces and make it tailor fit for you and your family. As it is said million times, the grass will always be greener on the other side. Of course, you can admire your neighbor’s lawn, but don’t be too preoccupied enviously staring at it. You have to water and take care of your own lawn too. To put it bluntly, mind your own business. Stop trivializing or minimizing yourself. YOU ARE A GOOD PARENT. Welcome, acknowledge and highlight your strengths as an individual. Pursue a good mindset. Be grateful and start focusing on yourself and your own family.

Let go

Inhale. Exhale. Shake it up. Loosen up a little more. Then say this loud—I AM LETTING GO OF THINGS THAT I CAN’T CONTROL. Louder. You are almost there. Recognize that there are particular areas of your life that you cannot control. Now is time to let it go. Let go of the pressures of being a model parent. Let go of the biases. Let go of the stereotypes. Let go of the stigmas. Let go of social media’s standards. Let go of perfectionism. Let go of what other people will say. You simply have no control of that, why bother in the first place? The actual evidence will say that their opinions will not change anyhow and anyway. Like it is said, a leopard cannot change its spot, so do not consume your time and energy forcing to change others or even yourself just to gain control of things that is beyond your control. That is not a wise battle. All of that will be in vain, so just LET GO.

Set a limit

Be mindful of the daily expectations you set for yourself. Modify that expectations and make it a realistic goal. Make sure that it is attainable and doable. Do not do things all at the same time. It will drain you. SET A LIMIT.  Know when to STOP—Overextending yourself will not do any good. Unreasonable time pressure is basically unnecessary. Yes, we all know that you can multitask, but if you cannot finish your chores in one day, THAT IS OKAY. As been said by many, manage a home that is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy. So, don’t fret. If you had a not so good “parenting” day, THAT IS OKAY TOO. If it is too much to handle, and you feel having a meltdown—don’t be afraid to cry it out. Don’t let the thought of unworthiness nest in your head. You are not a failure as a parent. Practice patience and forgive yourself. Tomorrow is another day. Let it go. Take things one day at a time. [3]

Just say NO

Say NO to things or even people that rob your inner joy and peace. I mean it, even people. Set a clear boundary and maintain it, so you can always enjoy your uninterrupted treasured time. Live and be in the moment. Quality leisure beats quantity all the time. It can be done and it must be done. And at the end of the day, you and your mental health matters.

Self-care

The love you give to yourself is the measure you give to others, so taking care of yourself is imperative. Nurture yourself too. Our often respond is, “Self-care, seriously? Are you crazy, do you think I still have the time for that?” Some tend to be kind to others, but forget to be kind to themselves. Do not deprive yourself with simple, yet so crucial pleasure. You can still have the best time of your life and it does not and will not make you less of a parent.

What are the self-care ways to stop parental burnout?

Being a parent, does not give you the license to neglect yourself. So, cut yourself some slack and say yes to NOT saying NO to yourself, no matter how overcommitted you are. Kindness delayed is kindness denied, so what are you waiting for?[4] Take a break. Be kinder to yourself. It is your decision to engage in a serious self-care and to make it a part of your daily routine. Here are some ways you can practice self-care

Find a hobby or a new interest

Allow yourself to grow and be inspired. Never feel guilty for pursuing a passion outside of your role as a parent. Start painting or dancing or may be gardening. Whatever it is, being a parent is not your full identity. Embrace your individuality outside parenthood. You are still you regardless. You can still do the things you love. Don’t lose YOU in the process.

Have a date with your spouse.

Just the two of you. Give your full undivided attention and show your genuine interest in your spouse. You both need that. It will definitely improve and will have a valuable impact in your marital relationship. It gives both of you the most deserve quality time to unwind and relax.

The Ultimate Game for Couples
This is a perfect game to build deeper lasting connections with your partner. It gives you and your partner to have quality time together, while you get to know each other. It will remove your inhibitions and let you learn new things about your partner.

Me Time

Find a window any time of the day for your meaningful “ME time”. Enjoy that precious alone time. You need that. I know it is easier said than done, but you need to fight and protect that special time. If you can have at least an hour a day to write in your journal or read a book while having coffee in peace—oh, that is an absolute luxury.

Ruled Notebook/Journal
Journaling can help you ease your mind release stress. List down three things you are grateful every day and you will have the road map to self-discovery and reflection. Journaling also helps us organize our plans, thoughts and feelings.

Pamper yourself

Pamper yourself at the salon once in a while. Get your hair or nails done. Have a spa day. A massage day is a winner too, to relieve the tensions in your body. If it is a shoot for the star, try bringing the spa at the comfort of your home. There are a lot of amazing products at Amazon that can you can choose from.

Lavender & Lilac Spa Gift Basket
This Spa Gift basket is the luxury we all need at home. You can pamper yourself all day every day and feel exquisitely fresh and have a younger looking skin every time. This product is a game changer in relaxation especially for the busy parents because it relieves tensions and stress after a long and tedious day.

Healthy lifestyle

Consistently eat a balanced diet, drink a lot of water and take your vitamins. Commit to stretching or exercising at least three times a week, because like any unrelenting stress, burnout may affect and lower our immune system too. As we all know a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, so it is safe to say that having a healthier lifestyle helps our general perspective about life including parenthood.

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Have a goodnight sleep

I know it is simple, yet for some it is so elusive. When it is bedtime, SLEEP. Put your phone down. Leave your worries. Allow your body and mind to recuperate and be recharged. Simple rule of the thumb, if you are tired, rest. If you can have a power nap during the rest of the day, that is also a pure bliss.

OLLY Sleep Melatonin Gummy
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Social connection

Schedule a frequent social connection with your inner circle friends. Any activities that you will be in touch and be with them. Yeah, a vacation to the Mexican Riviera is great, but you can also create simple and feasible fun for the “now”. A big and grand vacation is a double thumbs up, but a little break here and there makes enormous wonders too. Try a playdate or a movie date maybe, set up any movies or games your children will be interested with while you and your friend catch up over with each other.  A stroll and chitchat at the Sephora aisle are great too. Find and create the activities that will motivate you and boost your morale.

Bath Bombs Gift Set
This bath bombs are both for men and women. It can set the mood for deep relaxation that everyone ultimately needs especially after a long stressful day. It will charge your senses, soothes and calms your whole body. A perfect way to end the day or a weekend treat to your spouse or loved ones.

Is asking for help essential to stop parental burnout?

Growing up, we were all taught that no man is an island, so we are all accustomed to the phrase— “it takes a village to raise a child(ren)”. Every one of us need a support system one way or another, whether we like it or not. That is a fact of life so just GO, ASK HELP. Share the load. Your burden is not for you to carry alone. You don’t have to go through parenting alone. Use your resources and don’t let your pride hinder you from asking the most coveted help. There is no shame in asking. Again, it doesn’t make you less of a parent. BE HONEST to yourself and to the people around you. Accept that you need help. Allow others to help you. Appreciate the help you will be given.

First, with your spouse

Communicate your feelings, deepest thoughts, your specific needs and what you exactly want. Sometimes we feel entirely misunderstood, because we fail to communicate. It definitely adds more salt to injury than we expect. Sit down. Start talking and practice active listening too. It is a great privilege to be in a healthy relationship with a mutual understanding about your roles as partners in parenting.

Reach out to your trusted network

If they are part of your circle, close relatives like the grandparents, aunts, uncles and even your closest friends—Ask help. Call them. Have a chat. Never underestimate the wisdom of past experiences and the age that comes with it. If it is not too much of a favor and they are willing, ask if they can babysit for a couple of hours, so you and your spouse can enjoy a date night. It is always nice to have an extra helping hand.

Find a support group

Connect to others. You will discover similar situations and learn from them. Be wise and sensible enough to know what to put into application in your life. Examine and filter it according to your needs. Also, as you share your personal parental experiences, you will be a tremendous help to others as well.  

Seek professional help

Lastly, if all of these helpful tips do not work and you need additional support—SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. There is no better way than to be clinically assessed, measured and diagnosed by mental health specialists including psychologists or psychiatrists. In that way, you will accurately receive the proper guidance, therapeutic care and intervention on how to handle your condition.   

Everything Begins with Asking for Help
This e-book is helpful because it breakdowns the recovery tools to overcome anxiety and depression. It is backed up by medical professionals and mental health experts. This will help you to have a better understanding when to ask help, how to ask help and the value for asking help.

Final thoughts

When you neglect to balance your daily stressors, you become vulnerable and a willing participant to experience parental burnout. Choose to dwell and invest on yourself, so you can further master your own emotions. You just need to be present in your child(ren) lives, not perfect. There is no exact blueprint on how we can exactly be great at our role. That is completely okay. Do not sweat. Enjoy the journey, one day at a time. Nobody told us that parenthood is a walk in a park, just be a good parent, but do not ever waste time proving it.


[1] Mikolajczak, Moïra, et al. “Exhausted parents: sociodemographic, child-related, parent-related, parenting and family-functioning correlates of parental burnout.” Journal of Child and Family Studies 27.2 (2018): 602-614.

[2] Mikolajczak, Moïra, James J. Gross, and Isabelle Roskam. “Parental burnout: What is it, and why does it matter?.” Clinical Psychological Science 7.6 (2019): 1319-1329.

[3] Mikolajczak, Moïra, and Isabelle Roskam. “Parental burnout: Moving the focus from children to parents.” New directions for child and adolescent development (2020).

[4] Hubert, Sarah, and Isabelle Aujoulat. “Parental burnout: When exhausted mothers open up.” Frontiers in psychology 9 (2018): 1021.

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.

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