Parenting undoubtedly brings immeasurable joy to your life. Watching your children learn new things about the world and carve their places in it is its own special kind of magic. Many people list parenthood as the most rewarding thing they've ever done.
It can also be one of the most difficult responsibilities in your life. Juggling work and family life is always a challenge, and burnout is more common than you think, particularly when family members experience upheavals such as the transition to working from home. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to combat burnout and regain your vigor for life.
Lose the Perfectionism
You probably have your own vision of what ideal parenting entails. Maybe you want to be the outstanding PTA mom who organizes memorable class parties. Perhaps you pride yourself on always feeding your children wholesome, organic foods. Of course, there's nothing wrong with either of those things, but beating yourself up any time you don't do something perfectly only leads to unnecessary guilt and, ultimately, a breaking point.
Instead, focus on effects instead of arbitrary outcomes. Are your children happy? Are they healthy? Do you have a good relationship with them? If the answers to these questions are affirmative, rest assured that you are doing a good job, and that is good enough.
It may seem exciting to have some new adventure every weekend or to always keep dinner a mystery. While it's great to remain open to new experiences, constant novelty is overrated. Most people (and especially children) tend to thrive within a simple, reliable structure. If you find yourself pushing yourself and the rest of the family to take on new projects or ideas, consider going back to the basics of routine instead.
For example, you can simplify meal planning by introducing theme nights and capitalizing on leftovers. Save the new meals you want to try for the weekends or the days when you have more time. During the week, pack up leftovers for lunch and lean on your family's favorites for dinner:
- Monday - pasta and salad
- Tuesday - tacos
- Wednesday - stir-fry on rice or quinoa
- Thursday - baked potatoes with leftovers as toppings
- Friday - take-out or sandwiches
Seek Help From Others
Another important truth to remember is that you don't have to do everything by yourself. If you have a partner, you have someone not only to help make decisions but also to carry them out. If you are a single parent, you likely have friends, family and church members who would love to take some tasks off your hands.
If you can afford to do so, you may even consider hiring someone to help. A clean house may be important to you, but there's no rule that says you're the one who has to do it. The same goes for certain errands, such as grocery shopping. Even if you have a pretty strict budget, you may be surprised how affordable some services are when you start shopping around.
Take Care of Yourself
You never stop being a parent, but that doesn't mean you don't need to take a break occasionally. Remember to do the things you find relaxing. Join a book club or make a weekly date to have coffee with a friend. Make a luxurious bath part of your nightly routine. Taking care of yourself is not just helpful because it rejuvenates you to serve others. It is a noble goal on its own, because your peace and mental health are worth the effort.
If you are drowning in parental burnout, you are not alone. Many people experience it. With a few small changes, you can find your way back to the surface so you can breathe again.