What is Parental Burnout?

burnout genius greatness grind knowledge research tips work-life May 02, 2022
Burnout mom at laptop with iron and pile of clothes

Where do you fall? True or false.

  • T/F – I feel emotionally drained by my parental role. 
  • T/F – I feel as though I am taking care of my kids on autopilot
  • T/F – I accomplish many worthwhile things as a parent.

TIP: We encourage active engagement rather than passive reading to support you in being and becoming incredible, positive, and strengths-based parents.

What is Parental Burnout?

Step back and consider, what is parental burnout? Any parent knows that parenting can be stressful. When parents lack the resources needed to handle stressors related to parenting, they may develop parental burnout. This condition is characterized by an overwhelming exhaustion related to one’s parental role, an emotional distancing from one’s children, and a sense of parental ineffectiveness

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

83% of moms expressed burnout from pandemic parenting

The US has one of the highest levels of burnout  due to increased demands and pressure.

Work-parent reality:

  • Parenting years come at the same time career growth happens
  • Workday is longer than a child’s school day
  • Family units live farther apart making support difficult
  • Most US families need two incomes to survive
  • Increased demands both at work and at home

Often parents will bring up the idea that time is their most precious and valuable resource. We would like to get you thinking a little differently. 

Before we tell you what we think the most precious and valuable resource is, here’s an activity for you to think through. Answer these questions.:

  • What provides you energy with your kids?
  • What provides you energy at work?
  • Where does your power source come from?
  • What drains your energy quickly?

The reality is that energy is your most important resource. But, one of the things that can eat away at our energy as parents is what we call the grind.

Get your journal handy because we are going to help you overcome the grind.

First things first.

Take just 3 minutes and unload on all those things you hate to do as a parent! NO judgement zone here! Write and even discuss with a friend near you.

Keep your list handy to use in just a moment.

Welcome back from your journaling experience. 🙂

Here is a bit of context before we do the next step.

What gives you energy vs what takes away your energy?

The goal for us as parents is to live 70% of our time in the Greatness/Genius Zones and only 30% of our time in the Grind Zone. (We’ll teach you about greatness and genius zones in just a moment.)

The reality is we spend a lot more time in the Grind Zone doing the things that drain us of our energy, our happiness. Our children realize this much more frequently than we’d like to admit. They usually bear the brunt of that low energy. We raise our voices, snap at them for little things, or just can’t seem to find time for them in our hectic schedule. The reality is we can reapportion our parenting time so that we do have the luxury of 70% of our time being spent in the Greatness/Genius Zones!

Let’s get to know those zones.

  • Grind Zone: Things you do as a part but don’t necessarily make you strong.
  • Greatness Zone: Activities that make you feel strong, give you energy, are easy for you, you excel at doing them.
  • Genius Zone: Best of the Best. Prolific. What you are known for.

Now, break apart a typical week of activities to see where you are in the percentages of time you spend in these zones.

List three columns side by side.

  • Grind list of activities for the week (Pull from your first brainstorming activity.)
  • Greatness list of activities for the week (Good stuff that may or may not be perfect, but you do well at it and it’s fairly easy.)
  • Genius list of activities for the week (You could do this all day and it never gets old.)

Estimate the hours or percentages of your week you spend on each task. Then add up your totals.

  • Grind = ____ hours or ____ % of the week’s activities
  • Greatness = _____ hours or ____ % of the week’s activities
  • Genius = _____ hours or ____ % of the week’s activities

So, where are you today? Have you already achieved the healthy balance of 70% of your time in the Greatness and Genius Zones? Or, is too much living in the grind?

Parental burnout is real. This article is designed to help you know your risks and where you need some support to avoid burnout.

The Working Parent Institute is all about helping working parents discover and access the resources they need to find freedom from and avoid burnout. We offer training and support to organizations who want to advocate for the needs of current and future working parents and their families. Whether you want to be that support person among your staff as a certified Working Parent Advocate or be the organization that provides vital resources like one-to-one coaching, webinars, and training events, we want to help you be the support people and network that working parents need.

Just three times a year we offer a parenting webinar series. Don't miss your opportunity to join us.

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