Parental burnout is a real thing, and it could be caused by several factors, one of which includes not being able to take care of one’s own needs. This can easily happen to parents, especially mothers, as their priority is tending to their kids. The amount of work that has to be done (aka household chores topped with job responsibilities) gets overwhelming, leaving moms with little time (to none) to take care of themselves.
Consequences of parental burnout can be serious as it impacts not only the adults but the kids as well. It can make parents feel detached from their children, leading to parental neglect, harm, and thoughts of escape. It can also manifest physically through headaches, sleep disturbance, weight gain, greater susceptibility to illness, and overall poorer health.
Kids would also be at the receiving end of the accumulating stress of the adults as parents who lack enough time for themselves are likely to use poorer parenting practices, exhibit less patience, and experience less satisfaction and joy in their roles as parents. This may eventually worsen into child abuse.
Where to begin
The first step to taking care of yourself is recognizing that you have needs. One of these topmost needs is having sufficient emotional and mental support from loved ones.
Women who have inadequate support from family and friends are more prone to depression during and post-pregnancy. Symptoms could include crying a lot, feelings of worthlessness and guilt (about not being a good mother), suicidal thoughts, restlessness and irritability, and trouble with making decisions.
Getting the alone time
Moms, take note that alone time is not an indulgence but a necessity. Being a mother is a full-time job that almost requires you to be a superwoman 24/7 but you have to remember that you can’t take care of your child if you’re not able to take good care of yourself to begin with.
An effective alone time is not just about being alone in a room with you doing nothing. Alone time could constitute watching your favorite show by yourself, reading a book, or by simply taking a bath. It should be spent doing something that nourishes you and helps you refill your depleted energy level. In order to do that, you must be able to identify your needs at the moment and make sure they’re met and prioritized in that same moment, too.
Leaving their child to get some alone time can be tougher for first-time moms as they find it difficult to let other people (for example, a nanny or a caregiver) take care of their baby. This can be stressful and nerve-racking at first, and it is okay. However, this is important for establishing trust in people who are capable of taking care of their baby. Moms, you need to recharge, too, and the only way to do this is to let someone step in for you.
Since you may find it difficult to take time out for yourself (and leaving your child for that period of time), try to take it in short increments at first. Say, for this day, take five minutes of alone time per hour. Tomorrow, make it ten minutes every two or three hours. It’s really up to you, but this method can help you adapt better to taking chunks of alone time and increasing it as you get used to it.
Sometimes, having alone time may feel insufficient—like there’s something missing. In this light, you may be looking for emotional support from loved ones while you’re taking time to rest. This is totally okay, and you should ring up a friend, your spouse, or family members to help you feel better. Talk or hug it out to ease the tension and stress.
Now, if you feel like your anxiety and feelings of stress are getting too much to handle, it’s recommended that you reach out to loved ones and see a therapist for professional help. You should recognize this as doing yourself a favor; it will be a tendency for you to blame yourself for feeling the way you’re feeling, and let me tell you that you’re not at fault. Just like your kids and everybody else, you are human. You are capable of feeling things, and these things can be suffocating at times.
Taking a break from taking care of your family to tend to your needs isn’t something you should be ashamed of. Just like them, you have physiological needs, and you shouldn’t wait to reach your breaking point before you put self-care in your priorities. Having enough time for yourself only makes you a happier and healthier mom for your family. Oh, and don’t forget to ask help! All moms are superheroes, but even superheroes need a professional sidekick. If you’re up against something nasty, like mold, then it’s better to call the professionals. Here’s a company that does mold inspection in Tampa for example.