1. Preventing Parental Burnout

    When you’re trying to juggle parenting duties, personal concerns, and a career, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you subject yourself to this kind of grind week after week, it’s a sure way to get burnt out. And although you may be able to quit your job, you can never quit being a parent, so it’s important to develop strategies to overcome parental burnout. Check out some of these ideas. 

    First, make time for daily breaks. Going from your job straight to parenting commitments without a break will burn you out quickly. Instead, schedule some relaxation time between work and home every day – put it in your calendar, make a note, do whatever you have to do to remember. As little as ten minutes of break time will make a big difference in your stress level. Hitting the gym, running, or doing yoga before you get home can be a great way to lower stress and reenergize, but if you need an even briefer break, try walking around the block a few times, or just sitting somewhere and listening to calming music. 

    Do you ever worry about not doing enough for your kids? Try to leave those concerns at the door. Comparing yourself to “perfect” parents you know or overachieving moms on TV is rarely a positive way to improve your parenting, and certainly not something to stress over. Instead, create your own personal parenting goals and work toward them at your own pace. Your kids will appreciate this approach much more.  

    Having a strong support network can be the key to beating parental burnout. Share your parenting woes and triumphs with your spouse, friends, family, and whoever else you’re close with. Even if you just vent to them, it can be a relief, but they’ll often have valuable advice to share, too. They might even offer to take the kids for a weekend, a great opportunity to spend some personal time.

    Ultimately, if you don’t take care of yourself, you risk sabotaging the quality of your parenting. You know best what you need to do to stay relaxed and focused. Do these things. Even if you have to take a break from the kids for a little while sometimes, they’ll thank you for it later.  


  2. Taking Time for You

    Your daughter’s school just emailed you a reminder that tomorrow night is the annual parent-teacher conference. Your toddler is tugging at your pant leg – she wants to watch “Finding Nemo” for the umpteenth time. Dinnertime is in ten minutes, and of course you forgot to run the dishwasher. Is it time to scream yet? Maybe. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by life’s constant balancing act, so sometimes taking a “parent time-out” is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.

    When you get stressed, it shows. You’re a lot more likely to have trouble sleeping, eat poorly, and lose your temper. There’s lots of pressure to be SuperParent, and guilt when you feel you don’t live up to what you think that should be. But it’s unhealthy to pursue such an impossible goal, since it can cause you to lose sight of yourself. Remember: taking a break every now and then to rest and relax is NOT selfish; it’s smart. And necessary.  

    You don’t need to visit a five-star hotel to get some rest and relaxation. Look for those little breaks in the day: try cozying up with a book while your little one is down for a nap, or pick up that long-neglected scrapbooking project while they’re finishing their homework. Try to establish a routine with your children so they know when you’re going to be “on break.” Anxious kids will want to know exactly when you’ll be back, so give them an accurate estimate (not “whenever”). Once they realize that you’re happier and more engaged with them after a short break, they’ll be less likely to interrupt your quiet time.

    A weekly night to catch up with friends and fellow parents can help give you perspective and strengthen relationships outside the home. Other parents go through the same problems, so there should be no shortage of commiseration. Try trading baby-sitting duties with another mom or dad one evening a week, and settle in for a movie night, complete with candy and popcorn. Or have a kid-friendly get-together at an art studio, where you can catch up with a friend and the kids can go crazy with the finger-paint.

    For many parents, it’s a completely natural impulse to want to help everyone before you. But taking time explore your own interests is a great way to show your children that doing things on their own can be a lot of fun. They’ll be eager to develop their own hobbies and passions, which in turn boost their self-esteem, confidence, and budding independence. By putting yourself first now and then, you’ll be showing your loved ones how much you care.