Health & Wellbeing

6 strategies for coping with parental burnout

Team Kindship
March 25, 2022
2 minutes

We've all heard the sayings: 'You can't pour from an empty cup' or 'Secure your own oxygen mask first.' They're metaphorical ways of saying you're running on empty, especially true when raising children, more so if your child has a disability. It's a path to parental burnout.

Recognising Burnout

It's easy to brush off the signs of exhaustion, hoping for a spontaneous recovery. However, ignoring these signs often leads to burnout, manifesting as sickness, depression, anxiety, and more. Sometimes, we're so adept at pretending we're okay that we start to believe it, accepting constant exhaustion and overwhelm as our new normal.

Symptoms of Parental Burnout: Parental burnout can present as

  • Being easily triggered or restless
  • Lack of enjoyment and feeling overwhelmed
  • Exhaustion and frustration
  • Difficulty acknowledging emotions
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Low motivation and loss of parenting pleasure
  • Increased anxiety and ongoing fatigue
  • Feeling unable to take time for oneself
  • Doubts about parenting abilities

Addressing Burnout

While self-care is often touted as the cure, it's not always that simple, especially for parents of children with disabilities. Time is a scarce resource, and mental bandwidth is often stretched thin. So, how can you care for yourself amidst such challenges?

Strategies for Combating Burnout

  • Open Communication: Talk about your feelings. Admitting struggles can be empowering.
  • Create a Personal Sanctuary: Carve out a space for yourself, even if it's simple. Start your day there or use it for short breaks.
  • Embrace Music: Use music to uplift your mood. Tailor playlists to fit your emotional needs.
  • Lower Expectations: Sometimes, it's okay to not have everything perfect. Choose your battles and give yourself grace.
  • Stay Active: Incorporate exercise into your routine, whether it's a family walk, home workouts, or joining a sport with friends.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to say no. Minimise commitments that contribute to burnout.
  • Embrace Positivity: Try to maintain a positive outlook, even on tough days.
  • Seek Respite: Utilise available support systems like family, daycare, or respite services for much-needed breaks.

Navigating carer wellbeing isn't about perfection. It's about finding balance and moments of peace amidst the chaos. Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and it's okay to seek help and take a step back when needed. Your wellbeing is as important as your caregiving role.