I'm So Exhausted: Four Tips to Combat Parental Burnout
Are you often exhausted as a parent? Do you regularly feel drained, overwhelmed and off-balance when it comes to raising your kids? It's hard for every parent, but when your children have tough behavioral problems, like ADHD, frequent defiance or other chronic acting-out behaviors, the task of raising them to adulthood can sometimes feel like you're climbing a mountain without adequate supplies or the right equipment. Erin Schlicher, a mom and parental support line advisor for theThe Total Transformation gives you some concrete advice on how to juice up your parental batteries and get back on firmer ground.
Whether the calls come in late in the evening, first thing in the morning, or somewhere in between, a common element I hear from parents-and particularly mothers who are calling the Parental Support Line-is that they are feeling utterly worn out. Given that parenting even an average or "easy" child is hard work, parenting a more challenging or acting-out child is enough to run anyone ragged.
The fatigue that can come with mother or fatherhood (or for whom ever is doing the primary amount of parenting) is certainly not glamorous or boast-worthy, but it is a legitimate daily struggle for many of us. It should be said that there is a range of different types of exhaustion. The spectrum includes, but is not limited to, physical exhaustion, feeling burnt out, bored, frustrated, and a feeling of being defeated or fed-up. Of course, it is highly likely that a parent will have some blend of a few or even all of these. Understanding what type of tiredness is plaguing you can in turn lead to picking the approach most likely to help you reconnect with the energy necessary to face the challenges of parenthood. Remember, you must secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others!
From what I have heard from callers, the most taxing form of being tired is one that leaves them feeling disempowered, defeated, and unable to easily see a solution-trapped in that black and white thinking that makes you feel hopeless and alone. Once you find yourself stuck in this tough spot, it's difficult to conjure up the energy to set the wheels in motion to change it. Luckily, the small steps that parents make to change can quickly add up to a complete overhaul and a renewed sense of hope.
Since it is not always a readily available option to have someone else help with childcare, many parents rely on other methods of support. Online communities like Empowering Parents, as well as social networking sites, are a lifeline to a growing number of parents who may otherwise find themselves somewhat isolated. Advising parents who contact the Parental Support Line has been a distinct privilege, as I have been able to lend a kind ear to folks all over the country and beyond. Having supports in place positively impacts the whole family.
At the same time, it is important to understand that change is a process-certain behaviors may change immediately, while others will require more time. It is frustrating and disempowering not to know how to handle the challenges that arise with raising kids and there is no shame in trying to better equip oneself. Making this step could be exactly what is needed to pick up momentum.
I think the following quote from Mother Teresa explains this aspect of parenting beautifully: "Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired."
My interpretation of her message is not that we should literally be able to love without experiencing some fatigue from the output of energy, but rather, that it is our personal responsibility to be as balanced as possible in order to consistently offer love. It is inevitable that parents will encounter stress during the process of raising their children, but it is up to each of us to care for ourselves so that we may best care our families.
by by Erin Schlicher