How to manage the emotional exhaustion of parenting

Let’s be honest. Parenting can be exhausting. Physically and emotionally. Here are some simple strategies to help mimimize the stress

Parenting burnout

We all know that being a parent is physically demanding, but what’s often not talked about is the emotional toll that it can take. Think about it — how many things do you find yourself thinking about at once when it comes to your child?  You are constantly planning logistics, routines, activities, and bracing for the curve balls they send your way. Parenting tests your patience and is a constant balancing act.

On top of all of this, the worrying is endless and the pressure from outside sources (i.e. social media) makes us even harsher critics of ourselves. However, despite all of these emotional challenges, we love our children deeply and continue to push ourselves to the limit, sometimes to the point of burnout.

Recent studies have shown that there is such thing as ‘Parental-Burnout’ — the symptoms of which include depression, fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia and hopelessness. So how do we stop ourselves from reaching these extremes while still being the best possible parents and role models for our children?

I don’t know about you, but while I love being a mom of three, there are days when I feel like it catches up to me and I know I’d be a much better mom if I took a break. When I’m emotionally exhausted I’m easily irritated by small things, and unable to be the role model my kids need. Sound familiar?

Here are some simple tips I try to live by:

  • Take a break
    • This is often easier said than done. It’s not always possible to just leave the room for a few minutes to regroup. If I don’t have time, I simply turn my back, I take a deep breath and remember three things I love about being a mom.
    • When possible, I try to find a time where I can have a break. And this doesn’t mean doing chores after the kids have gone to bed but rather something that constitutes real ‘me’ time like reading a book, watching a TV show, meditating, doing some yoga etc.
  • Make a plan for ‘me’
    • As mentioned above, try to schedule time for yourself to do something you enjoy – and don’t feel guilty about it. Everyone deserves ‘me’ time, especially you!
    • Once I make a plan, I make it a priority to stick to it, otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to miss out on this important time to reenergize and recharge.
  • Put less pressure on myself
    • There will always be information out there on how to be a better parent. Just remember that you are doing an amazing job. Prioritize what you feel is important for you and your child and take on one challenge at a time.
    • You have to remember there is only so much you can do. In the end, part of parenting is going with your instincts because you know your child the best. As long as you feel like you are setting a good example, being your best self, and loving your child unconditionally then you are probably already doing it right anyway!
  • Get organized
    • When I’m feeling exhausted, if I can find some time to organize us as a family, then I feel more caught up and calmer.
    • I love finding new tips and tricks that make my life easier. The more organized I am, the easier our days flow and the more fun we have when we’re together.
    • Here are some of my go-to tips for getting organized: 
    • Plan meals on the weekend – is there something you can prep ahead, or need to defrost? I try to plan ahead for the week and freeze a meal or two ahead for the busier days
    • In the evenings, make a plan for the next day. Think of any appointments or errands you have, what’s for lunch/ dinner etc
    • Put out what you need for the next day (extra clothes, jackets, hats, water bottles, an activity for your purse, papers or homework for school)
    • Pack daycare or school back packs
    • Make snacks or lunches
  • Try not to lose my individualized identity
    • This is a hard one, especially when motherhood is all consuming. It’s important to keep your hobbies or find new ones that you can identify with. Part of this includes making time for non-child focussed social settings such as working out, catching up with friends for lunch or whatever it is that works for you.

Hang in there, and don’t forget to ask for help. As the saying goes… It takes a village to raise a child.