Juggling the responsibilities of parenting, work, relationships, and other commitments can be overwhelming at the best of times. Even if you have great support from your co-parent and have plenty of other family and community support. But then, add in the stress and frustration of parenting a teen with issues, and you will soon find yourself feeling exhausted, burned out, and possibly struggling with your own mental health. For many parents, prioritizing their own mental wellness and practicing self-care is simply impossible. Who has the time? Where do you even get started?
While it may take a bit of extra planning and thought, self-care is such an important part of coping with everything that parenthood and life, in general, have to throw your way. We’ve got a few tips to get you started so that you can either get out of feeling completely burned out or even keep burnout at bay.
What does burnout look and feel like?
The struggles you’re trying to cope with right now may feel so familiar that they almost feel like it’s your version of what is completely normal. This sense of constantly being stressed, feeling like you want to burst into tears or run away entirely. But it’s not. Parental burnout, while common, doesn’t need to be your normal.
What could it look like?
- Feeling overwhelming exhaustion when it comes to every aspect of parenting.
- Feeling an emotional distance between your children and yourself, even your children who are not troubled teens.
- Doubting your ability to be a good parent to your troubled teen and your other children.
- Feeling trapped.
- A start or increase in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking or drinking.
- Feeling an increase in both physical and mental exhaustion. You may feel tired and drained, no matter how much sleep you get.
- An increased risk of developing or worsening of the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Feeling irritable and frustrated. You may also snap at your family and friends over even the smallest of frustrations.
- Struggling to sleep, no matter how tired you are.
- Difficulty concentrating at work or on other important tasks.
Mental fatigue, particularly when related to parental burnout will often see you in a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.
What’s to blame for your parental burnout?
If you’re feeling burned out at work, it’s usually easy to figure out why you’re burned out. You’re working long hours, with little to no support, and you’re not getting adequate downtime. The same theory applies to parental burnout. You’re putting in long hours, dealing with high levels of stress, and you’re not getting enough time to rest and recover between needing to handle issues with your troubled teen.
All parenting, no matter the ages of your children, will involve challenges and some level of stress. However, the positives of parenting generally outweigh the negative aspects of parenting kids. The problem is that sometimes the parenting scale tips too far into the negative aspects. You’ll feel more stress than you’re feeling rewards, putting you at an increased risk of burnout.
Other stress factors could include the following.
- One or more children with physical, emotional, or mental health concerns.
- Feeling pressured to be the perfect parent all the time constantly.
- A lack of support from co-parents and other members of the family.
- Struggling to balance work, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities.
When you’re at the point of feeling parental burnout, it’s important that you take steps to reverse the burnout and learn effective methods of keeping it at bay in the future.
Decreasing stress, coping with mental fatigue and burnout
If you’re snapping at people around you, feeling constantly tired and stressed, and need a break from everything that you’re trying to deal with, it might be time to consider ways to cope better. It’s easy to simply say, “Take a break.” If it were that simple, you’d do it. It’s going to be a process for you to learn how to better cope with mental fatigue and how to keep burnout at bay.
How do you get started?
- Take it easy on yourself. It’s all too easy to hold yourself to an exceptional and unrealistic standard. You’re human, and it’s okay if something is not perfect or if something doesn’t go according to plan. What’s important is how you respond to these situations.
- Seek out support where you can. This may mean you ask your co-parent to step up or take on other tasks around the house or within the family. It could also mean reaching out to family and friends for the type of support that you need.
- Prioritize downtime for yourself. This is definitely easier said than done. However, downtime doesn’t need to mean a full day of self-care. It could be as brief as allowing yourself a longer shower, a walk around the block, or just an hour of guilty-pleasure television in the evening. The focus should be on giving yourself just a bit of freedom from the stress that you’re facing. Self-care can mean a hot soak in the tub, but it can also mean getting yourself into individual therapy or seeking out a support group with other parents of troubled teens.
Parental burnout can take a toll on everyone in the house. Parents aren’t superhuman and shouldn’t expect superhuman coping skills from themselves. It’s understandable if you’re tired or emotionally drained and simply cannot make another single decision some days. Remember that you’re not alone. Parent burnout is much more common than many of us will admit to. Let go of some of the guilt and shame that you feel about it and rather focus on what you can do to move forward with the confidence and strength you need to tackle dealing with your troubled teen.
You don’t need to tackle everything on your own when there are options for guidance and help. At HelpYourTeenNow, we can connect parents and troubled teens with the needed resources. Whether you’re interested in learning how and why a residential treatment center can help or looking to take the next step in your teen’s treatment plan, we can guide you along the way.
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