As parents, we tend to put ourselves last. We can get so caught up in taking care of everyone else and meeting our obligations, there is little left for ourselves—little time, little energy, and after a while, little joy. With these thoughtful tips, you can hang onto those key resources of time, energy, and joy and prevent parent burnout.
- Find balance. Parents often feel they lead two completely different lives, one at work and one at home. The pull of two separate identities can create such inner turmoil that some experts refer to the hour transitioning from work to home as the “whirlwind hour.” Meeting the needs of family members coming together at the end of the day can mean high levels of stress and emotion. Keep the two lives in balance by not taking your home issues to work with you, and not taking work issues home with you. You may find it helps to pad your work schedule to allow for catching-up tasks through the day and managing surprises. If you have a supervisor who tends to load you with work at the end of your shift, don’t allow it to become a habit. Legitimate emergencies happen, but find ways to tactfully but assertively respond if you are being taken advantage of. For instance, you can say something like, “I’ll be happy to tackle that first thing tomorrow morning.”
- Keep your home healthy. Establish a home environment that reduces stress levels and encourages relaxation, health, and happiness.
- Eat right. Create a home environment that promotes healthy eating with some simple, straightforward changes. Use smaller plates for your everyday meals. Smaller plates help you be full with less food, and you can set aside your large dinner plates for special occasions. Cut back on the amount of snacks and junk foods you buy when you go grocery shopping, and store them out of sight in the pantry so they aren’t too convenient.
- Exercise. Find ways to include more activity in your daily life. You’ll have more energy in addition to being stronger and healthier. You don’t need to reconstruct your schedule to get a workout in, just take advantage of downtime when other things are going on, like when you’re waiting for something to finish baking or downloading software updates. As explained by Parents, the key is to find something you enjoy so you stay motivated and keep a regular program. Clear a little floorspace and opt for some chair exercises or a yoga routine. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just so long as you keep moving. Have fun, and you might even engage the children now and then, like dancing together or going for a walk.
- Laugh. The old expression that “laughter is the best medicine” holds some truth. Some experts suggest making sure you laugh throughout your week as a part of your self-care. You can giggle with the kids during play or chuckle watching videos of pets doing silly things. The key is to laugh, have fun, and find joy.
Make sure you prevent burnout by putting these thoughtful tips into your lifestyle. Balance your life, create a stress-free home environment, eat right, exercise, and make sure you find ways to laugh. You’ll be a happier and healthier parent!