“I just can’t stand this place anymore. I am the one who always has to be responsible. No one else seems to help or care. Everyone depends on me to get things done. When am I going to have time for myself? I hate my job and I don’t want to do this anymore!”
I’m sure that many of us have had similar feelings about our jobs at one time or another. Burnout is common with the massive amount of responsibilities, expectations, and pressures — internal and external — we all feel. In our 9 to 5 jobs, we often deal with burnout by changing employers. But when your job title is “Mama” or “Daddy,” finding another “job” is simply not an option.
It has been my experience that parents are reluctant to talk about the burnout in our profession. Our society portrays parenthood as a fulfilling and rewarding experience — the most enlightened thing that can happen to a person. Indeed, it can be. But it is also one of the hardest and most tiring jobs there is … and there are many days that are neither fulfilling nor rewarding.
The taboo of talking about the hard spots in honest ways can make many parents feel guilty and reluctant to reach out to others for help. Sometimes, they become angry or try to overcompensate to make up for the very normal feelings of burnout.
People who describe feeling burnout have some common characteristics: they consistently feel negative about themselves and their environment; they have difficulty asking for help; they feel overwhelmed, powerless, out of control and feel as though they have no separate life from their job. Often, they become depressed and lose energy to the point that it is difficult to complete their duties. In addition, they become angry or consistently irritable at people around them and feel that no one cares as they do.
There is no easy cure for burnout, whether you are experiencing it in your professional or parenting life. However, there are some steps you can take to journey out of the feeling of overwhelm.
♦ Admit that you feel tired of this job and it is no longer enjoyable. For many people, simply acknowledging the feeling of burnout can be healing. When we deny our feelings, we spend a lot of energy trying to keep things under control. When you acknowledge how you feel, you release this energy to actually begin working on the problem.
♦ Explore the reasons for the burnout. Take a hard look at your schedule, your beliefs, and responsibilities. Many people operate from a belief that they are only one that can do the job correctly. They never give others a change to help. Their expectations of themselves and others are often unrealistic. If your beliefs are leading to overwork and an imbalance in your care of you, perhaps it is time to evaluate your beliefs.
♦ Make a list of things that you do or that must be done. Write down all the projects and activities that fall on your shoulders. Which are frivolous and can be deleted? Which can be given to someone else? Which are actually the responsibility of other people? Which things can be hired out? Once you examine your list, take action on it by actually deleting the things that can be deleted and asking for help where you can.
♦ Take care of you. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, find an exercise that you enjoy, eat good and nutritious foods, move and breathe. Seek a friend or counselor to talk with them about how you feel or call the Exchange Club Family Resource Center for extra support (706-290-0764).
♦ Spend time with other adults. Grown up people need to spend time with other grown-up people from time to time. As a parent, you need to occasionally spend some time away from your children as much as your children need to spend time away from you. This is difficult in a COVID-19 world and may take a different format now, but having at least some period of time to get together with other adults can provide a needed bit of downtime and support.
♦ Count your blessings. Our feelings about life are often connected to our perception of what is going on around us and the point on which we focus. If we see only the bad points, we fail to see the good ones. Each day, write down 3 to 5 things for which you are thankful. These things do not have to be related to parenting. They may be thankfulness for blue skies or a good cup of coffee. Gratefulness can help ground us.
You have a major job as a parent. This job carries a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility. There is little time to rest. What is important is that we realize that it is okay to resent this job and its pressures from time to time. It is okay to get tired. Most of all, it is OK to reach out for help and surround yourself with support. You are normal and you are not alone.