No one wants to admit weakness, but no one can do it all. From the stay-at-home parent to the career parent, everyone experiences burnout and stress. Parents hope for relief from demanding work schedules when summer comes, but often the summer worsens situational stress. The kids are home and need more attention. So how do you continue to work, plan events for your kids, and provide transportation without getting totally burned out?
Feeling stressed is normal but feeling totally depleted, overwhelmed, and exhausted all the time is not. When your wake up feeling defeated, it’s time to take a break to protect yourself from burnout. Here’s some tips to help you refuel:
Put self-care at the top of the list. Your children and job responsibilities depend on you taking care of you. Making sure everyone else is okay is nurturing, but not if you’re feeling resentful, frustrated, or depleted. Taking time for you is not selfish – it’s a necessity.
Avoid negative people and news. You don’t have to engage negative people. Negative news is contagious and can drain your energy, hope, and optimism.
Spend time with your partner or support network. Feeling connected with your partner will help you feel supported emotionally and physically. Parenting takes teamwork, and it’s important to have supportive help with the kids when you come home.
Take a break from your kids. You love your children, but you need to take time away from them. Studies have shown parents have better relationships and make more effective discipline decisions when they plan a night out or a short weekend away.
Monitor and limit screen time. Constant screen time is stressful and creates anxiety both with adults and children. Children may react to parents’ absorption with their gadgets by acting out to get their needs met, or they may turn inward towards feelings of loneliness and unworthiness.
Don’t over-schedule your family or yourself. You can keep the calm in summer if you don’t over-schedule the kids or yourself. It’s okay to say “no” to taking on more projects or activities. Let the summer be a time for kids to connect with family. Give them chores to do and hold them accountable. Don’t do for them what they’re capable of doing for themselves. Let them be bored as it leads to creativity. It’s not your job to be the entertainment counsel.
Burnout happens when parents forget to take breaks, form social connections, and get sleep. Take time to look for signs of stress within yourself because burnout happens in small, insidious ways. Before you know it, you’ll feel overwhelmed, angry, and out of control. Depression can mimic burnout, so if you’re concerned that you’ve let stress get out of control, talk to a mental health professional. The first step to curing burnout is self-awareness that how you’re feeling isn’t normal. Summer is the perfect time to model what healthy self-care looks like to your children. Give yourself permission to take a break.