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How to Recognize and Avoid Parenting Burnout

The primary caregiver for children — often the mother — has traditionally faced lots of challenges. However, parenting during the pandemic has proved to be incredibly challenging. Both moms and dads have had to navigate new experiences, adapt to numerous and complex changes, and attempt to define and create a new normal for their families.

With digital learning, the uncertainty of finances and the economy, job loss or working from home and more – plus the added anxiety of the pandemic — many parents increasingly find themselves on the threshold of depletion and burnout.

Just a generation ago, mothers were traditionally the ones who balanced most household and caregiving duties with work life. But in recent years, dads have shared those duties equally or even been the one to solely provide them.

Working parents now find themselves attempting to do it all — including working, cooking, cleaning, running errands, taking the kids to appointments, home schooling, supporting their households monetarily and emotionally, and much more.

As a result, parents just like you have far less time to engage in the kinds of self-replenishing activities that would strengthen their own emotional wellbeing and promote self-care.

Do you have these signs of burnout?

  1. Days begin to blur into one another.

  2. Increased irritability and/or being emotionally reactive in ways that are not one’s typical response (i.e., lashing out at your family or partner, increase in anxiety).

  3. Lack of energy to complete self-hygiene or tasks related to carrying for the household.

  4. Sense of hopelessness and apathy.

  5. Neglecting engagement in pleasurable activities such as hobbies and interests.

  6. Utter exhaustion physically, emotionally, spiritually.

  7. Poor sleeping habits.

  8. Negative attitude towards yourself.

  9. Sense of low motivation and a decrease in productivity (i.e., poor work performance).

How to manifest replenishment in your daily life


Focusing on the present can be a powerful tool that shifts one from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Focusing on now allows you to reconnect to your core sense of self. Examples of mindfulness can include taking time to really enjoy a hot shower, spending five minutes in nature, and enjoying the sight of trees and the sounds of birds chirping. There are tons of free resources available on YouTube, etc., that can aid you in becoming more mindful.

Create a routine

Several studies have indicated the benefits of creating a morning and nighttime routine. It does not need to be anything extravagant. Giving yourself just 10 minutes a day to engage in self-care can have immeasurable benefits. Start with creating a daily bedtime and wake-up time to create a better sleep schedule when possible. Start your day by making one small promise to yourself that you can easily achieve, such as drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Building upon these small practices will increase your self-trust and lead to cultivating optimal health.

Find ways to take care of yourself

You are worthy of taking care of yourself so you can be healthy and present for yourself and your family/loved ones. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Breathe more deeply. Learn deep breathing strategies to assist in self-regulation of your central nervous system and see incredible responses physiologically! Close your eyes. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold for five to six seconds, and release.

  • Exercise provides an opportunity to connect and move our bodies. Find movement that you can enjoy, even if it’s only for five to 10 minutes daily.

  • Connect with nature. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine when you can!

  • Learn to play again. Small things bring your joy and fun. Play games with your children, pick up a new hobby, learn something new.

  • Use short moments to engage in activities that create joy, optimal health, self-focus — such as taking five minutes to be present with your cup of tea or coffee. Journal about your intentions and goals using bullets, which only takes a few minutes. Creating small moments during your days can lead to huge changes in your habits and in prioritizing you again without the guilt.

  • Seek and accept support. Learn that it’s okay to ask for help and use your supportive resources such as friends and family.

  • Talk to someone you can trust to express your emotions in a healthy manner.

  • Seek professional support with a trusted therapist or mental health professional.

For parents who feel like they need help coping with burnout, depression, substance abuse and other conditions affecting their life, help is only a phone call away. Willowbrooke at Tanner offers a wide variety of counseling and therapy options, beginning with a free, confidential mental health or substance abuse screening. Call 770-812-3266 now or visit tanner.org/behavioral-health-care to learn more.

Tanner Health System

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