Parenting is a real job indeed and realer is the consequences availed out of it- and not just in terms that speak of how good or bad parents have been in moulding their child. The consequences instead entail also as something that one reaps through the very process itself of mothering a fathering a whole individual. So whether it be the laughs and joys of what one proudly receives as a parent or suffer instead an overwhelming deal through something occurring as parental burnout, the reality is one of greater universality.
It occurs as no surprise indeed that this burnout of what effects the parents is also a case concerning as well the children themselves as being dependent on the people nurturing them. Equally obvious it would be also that the exhaustion experienced through this term of interpretation is one of physical as well mental attributes. Raising children is a job that is exerting beyond limits- a constant 24X7 schedule of mindful attending to curious minds and energetic bodies interspersed also with bouts of crying and whimpering and tantrums is more than enough ingredients for a recipe of feeling the heat. That said though, it isn’t necessarily only such adults who are in the stage of parenting a younger child that bears the brunt. ‘Elder’ parents too can be quite susceptible to feeling burnt out from the responsibility of what is a lifelong identity.
The premise upon which parental burnout finds expression is one queer idea in exploring. Despite it being seemingly developed in a stance of being ‘bored with the job’ as atypical of the representation that burnout generally, the reasons for its stemming are rather rooted in almost contrary a ground in treading. The sometimes conscious, otherwise subconsciously working aspiration in becoming better or even perfect parents happens to be one of the core issues triggering this experience in exhaustion. Add to this the additional avenues of stress being characteristic of the present day lifestyle and parenting happens as not so exciting an experience that one would have wanted it to be.
The prospects in facing burnout might seem to increase manifold with working parents constantly needing to shuffle between personal commitments and professional responsibilities. That indeed is one significant strand through which this modern ‘trend’ of parental burnout occurs as most apparent. But stress being a composite alluding to the pressures of dealing with life in general and stressors in this regard need not be relying on multiple sources of its origin.
Coursing along the rugged road of what parental burnout is a continuous experience all through is trickier an aspect considering that one has a life outside of their own to be affected by. And that’s perhaps what makes it even more difficult to cope with the burnout that one experiences in their parental capacity. You are torn between the equally pressing needs of wanting time for yourself vs the want that your children bear in coveting for your time and attention. As a parent you do want to give them all but are so limited by your own energy and existence that you feel like you are barely doing the minimum for them. And that has you spiraling even deeper into the abyss of this uncomfortable existence burdened with the guilt of a traumatic realisation in inadequacy and inefficiency of identity.
And that exactly is the irony of parental burnout- so stirred are you by the incapabilities of your perceiving that you further feed those thoughts and grow to fit- or rather shrink yourself into that set image of despair. The irony rules also in parental burnout being considered a ‘normal’ experience even when that necessarily belies the belief of parenting being the ultimate, absolute and immensely blissful experience there ever can be.
As something part of the routine then, there does not happen to be much emphasis in discussing and deciphering the way out of this reality because you are only expected to go through it. Even when that breeds an agonising feeling of wanting to distance yourself from your very children and leads you thus to question your own worth and/ or ‘status’ of being a parent, you are left with no option but to deal with the unexpected darks lurking in the shadows of a light many times more magnified in its glow.
Ambiguous also is the nature in which parental burnout might express its intent, ranging from the most commonest of symptoms in physical discomfort to intenser feels of emotional and psychological bearing. This means that it might even be not so easy to ascertain whether one is experiencing indeed that debilitating dilemma of greater concern or is reading too much into a general feeling of the blues. Leaving then the very cause of it unattended such that it grows and blows out of proportion is what makes parental stress take on the menacing identity of a burnout.
Parental burnout is more critical in the effects of its leading than what would be obvious. The parental assertion might speak only of the impact that the parent feels for their own selves and the experience of the children. It might also then play upon the greater dynamics of the entire parent- child relationship as an enduring effect but that is not the end of it. Beyond the personal and filial strains experienced, parental burnout can also be as conducive a case as other such instances of burnout in impairing also social and personal relationships as well as the spectrum of efficient human functionability.
Parental burnout asserts in different degrees and levels of working. The effects that one experiences as a result of the condition is also ‘personalised’ therefore. From headaches and muscle pains to changes in appetite and sleeping schedule, the body experiences a toss through this struggle in enduring. Exhaustion and irritability are the most common psychological effects, even as conditions like OCD and brain fog as well as depression and anxiety are concerningly prevalent. One feels also a greater sense of worthlessness or doubt coming to characterise their self perception, even when chasing by themselves the core of an existence that is isolated from the rest of the world. That, even when they already are struggling to cope with the depressively detaching association and it does not come as a surprise that those experiencing burnout from parenting are at greater risk in harbouring thoughts of suicide or self harm.
Hormonal imbalances too arise in the body due to this disturbed dwelling of the being, opening up an even greater expanse for health complications to follow. The relationship within the parental set can also be unfavourably affected even when the symptoms accrue to only one of the involved individuals. To cope up with these ill feelings, one relies on unhealthier habits and patterns of alcohol or drug consumption, even as comfort eating too can assume indispensability. As the fatigue intensifies over time, so does the ‘deadliness’ of this manifestation, making it present as a hopeless situation one is doomed in for the remainder of their lives during which they will never cease to be a parent.
That one does not cease to be a parent indeed once they have come to ‘achieve’ that standing might be more or less the reality everywhere. But the fact that they cannot claw their way back to their own selves just because they identify as someone more responsible in their identity is pretty much a myth. Parental burnout can be dealt with indeed in healthy mannerism, so that children continue to present as being the blessing they have forever been regarded as. Talking one’s way out of something as disabling as the burden of burnout might seem to be too much to ask for. But words indeed have the power to heal as much as they have in wounding and speaking to a therapist might sometimes be all it takes to emerge from the proverbial ashes perhaps.
Nothing functions excessively well in isolation though which is why making conscious efforts in regaining your old self too needs to be a careful consideration in your specifically curated routine. Seeking some solace from your partner can also have quite the therapeutic effect and perhaps even more so since it strengthens also the relationship through a trust fostered in vulnerability, which really is intimacy of a different kind. Equally important is to cherish and nurture the relationship held with the self and to take it slow. Allowing then for exhaustion and fatigue to be experienced as ordinary occurrences and taking the time to heal from them presents as a really important case.
Through this run of what you undertake as self care, it also would be necessary that you sometimes disengage also from the children themselves. You of course would be present for them all the time but there is a difference between being available and being imposing of yourself to such extents that harm both you and your kids. Making the younger ones realise that they can turn to you anytime they want but need not necessarily make it a habit of their existence is rewarding not just in the manner of granting you some me time but also in preparing them to emerge as independent individuals. That this act in disengaging saves you not only from the exhaustion you experience in all overwhelmingness but also has you gaining greater probability in emerging as a better parent indeed is enough premise for parental burnout to lose its hold over your human.
The greater practices in emotional self care and therapy taken care of, parental burnout can also be disexperienced and disengaged with by physical activities of exercise and healthy eating while allowing also for indulgences to validate the feel good assertion. Seeking out fun acts that calms your being while involving also your children can be such a reward in reaping, one that drives away the parental blues and bring you closer to the younglings. Parental burnout might be real but trust the unique experience of this journey to redefine as well your life in such terms that speaks forever in a childlike enthusiasm of ebullient expressing.