Exhausted is the best word to describe burnout. If you’ve ever experienced burnout because of your job, then you know it’s not a fun experience and how it leaves you feeling extremely exhausted. Well, that’s exactly how being burnt out as a parent feels. The only difference is you still have little people who depend on you and can’t fend for themselves for more than one or two hours. Therefore, sleeping for an entire day and spontaneously leaving for a relaxing weekend trip is not always easy to do.
The daily activity of taking care of the house, managing the budget, working out of the home, managing your business, constantly running behind others to do as they are told/asked, running up and down the stairs while playing “don’t step on that toy or you’ll crack your back” and “what the heck is for dinner tonight” game can wear a any parent down. It can take a toll on you mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can take more of a toll if you’ve forgotten to put your wants and needs on the forefront like you do everyone else’s wants and needs.
It was in the middle of a discussion when my wife screamed out, “You don’t know how to sit down and just relax. You are constantly cleaning, folding, or putting something up. Running behind the kid and making sure everything is in order. You don’t know how to relax and stop taking life so serious.” My response, “Well hell if y’all helped me. Then maybe I can sit down and stop cleaning, folding, or putting something up.” (Yeah, I know not one of our best moments, but we are working on our communication skills.)
While I was offended and felt like she was taking shots at me, she was very right. I was burning both ends of the candle to keep our house clean, make sure everyone had clean laundry and clean toilet seats to take poops on while trying to maintain what I thought was a stable household. All the while, I was burning myself out and didn’t have energy or the time for anything including myself and my wants.
It’s like when the flight attendant tells you to put your mask on first before attempting to help others. How in the hell was I helping them? By making sure the house was clean? By making sure they had clean underwear and socks? Why was I putting so much emphasis on trying to maintain this lifestyle? It didn’t matter if the house was clean to my son because he would spread his toys all over the floor whether it was recently mopped or vacuumed. And my wife has enough clean clothes and socks to last her an entire two or three weeks (maybe more) before I needed to wash clothes again. Certain household chores that I put an emphasis on didn’t stop them from doing the things they wanted to do. So why should I put so much emphasis on it?
What I’m saying is learn a lesson from my life…. stop putting some things before your own happiness. It’s okay to ignore the pile of unfolded laundry for a day or two or until you get a chance to fold them. Your family doesn’t always need a three course meal. Pizza or Take-out anyone?
As a parent, you need time to yourself and we should schedule time to ourselves religiously. Unless there is a life-threatening event, this time should not be adjusted for anyone. I know it can sometimes feel like you are neglecting your duties as a parent and your kids, and maybe even your spouse, but you can’t give them the 110% they’re use to getting if you aren’t giving 200% to yourself.
A whole weekend or a whole day may not be needed or even possible to take but take a few minutes or hours, on a daily, for yourself. You have to determine how much time is needed to fill up your tank to play your best role as a parent.
Remember put your mask on before attempting to assist others. Enjoy life and stop being consumed by the “perfect family” image that society has forced on us to believe makes us GREAT parents. This image honestly will not have any substantial effect on your life. Your child(ren) and/or spouse will remember the time you spent with them laughing and enjoying life. They won’t remember the time your left the dishes in the sink until the next morning or didn’t clean the bathroom on it’s scheduled day. But it starts with taking care of yourself first and not trying to be Super Woman or Superman every day of the week.
Have you experienced parenting burnout? How do you avoid burnout as a parent and/or spouse? Share your experience in the comments section.