Dr. Yen also noted other specific warning signs of parental burnout, such as feeling angry or resentful at having to care for their children and starting to isolate themselves from them physically or emotionally. Parents with burnout may also feel trapped or fantasize about leaving, she added.
While the new report may be useful to doctors, the researchers wrote it directly for working parents. Includes a new scale of burnout they hope parents will use them to gauge how they are doing, which includes 10 statements like, “I wake up exhausted at the thought of another day with my kids” or “I feel like I’m in survival mode as a parent.” Parents can agree or disagree with each on a scale of “not at all” to “very much”. They are then assigned a final score that can help indicate whether they have what researchers would consider mild, moderate, or severe burnout.
What to do for parental burnout
No matter where working parents fall on that spectrum, it can be helpful for them to first recognize that many of the challenges they are facing are beyond their control. It is impossible to be a dedicated employee and a dedicated caregiver at the same time without adequate support. Self-compassion is important, Dr. Melnyk said.
But parents facing mild burnout may be able to make immediate changes that will prevent more severe burnout. Find little ways to ask for help, researchers say. If you can, ask a family member or neighbor to take care of childcare, if only to give you a short break. If you’re responsible for taking your kids to and from school, activities, and play dates, find others to carpool with so you don’t run alone.
The report found that 68% of working moms say they are exhausted compared to 42% of working fathers, so it may be especially important for women to take breaks and ask for help, even though it may not be straightforward or easy.
Stressed parents may also find it helpful to tap into a sense of calm and calm by practicing mindfulness. Research shows that awareness can help reduce parental stress, which in turn can help improve children’s psychological outcomes. It can be as simple as intentionally feeling the sole of your foot on the floor and taking a deep breath, Ms. Kripke said.
But breathing alone will not solve this. Parents with more severe burnout should contact a primary care physician or mental health provider immediately. They can screen for problems like anxiety and depression. (If you are unsure of how to find a mental health providerit may be helpful to start by looking for free online directories, such as alma, ZocDoc, monarch or progress.)