Parents carry a heavy workload these days, often working a full or part time job on top of all the duties of parenthood. When soccer practice piles up against music class and the baby is teething again, it’s easy for parents to become burnt out after weeks and months of rushing from one thing to the other. A burnt out parent is short on patience and has a higher risk of becoming sick, so it’s important for parents to take care of themselves in order to avoid burnout.
Take Time to Stay Healthy
Being sick makes anyone feel burnt out, so taking care of your own health should be top priority alongside taking care of your children’s health. Healthy meals made up of whole grains, vegetables, beans or lean meat help to feed your body the nutrients it needs to stay in top shape. Regular exercise keeps your muscles and bones strong as well as giving your mind a chance to relax for a while. A healthy immune system helps you to fight off the inevitable germs that kids pick up at the park, playgroup or daycare.
Take Time to Recharge Yourself
It’s easy to focus on giving your children what they need to learn, grow and play, such as dance classes or extra math tuition. It’s also important to recognize that parents need to dedicate time to learning and playing as well. So, if you’ve always dreamed of learning how to make pottery or play the cello, sign up for some lessons. Getting out to a class, book club or art gallery can help to recharge your intellectual and creative batteries.
Question the Supermom Ideal
If you’re asking yourself where you’re going to get the time to prepare whole grains for supper and go for a bike ride before dashing out to your creative writing class, remember that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Imperfection is a normal part of life, especially parenting. Pushing yourself to have a spotless house, perfectly behaved children and an immaculate manicure can add extra stress to your life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the duties on your plate, ask yourself what is most important and then make that your priority for a week. When you feel burnout approaching, re-evaluate your priorities and see if you can defer, delegate or discard anything to free up some time and mental space in your life.
Often burnout looms on the horizon when one takes on more than she can handle by herself. Choosing to eat healthy, exercise and recharge the batteries all help combat burnout, but the most permanent solution is to lead a life that is in balance. If working fewer hours, signing the kids up for one class instead of three or mopping the floor once a week instead of every day helps you to feel less stressed, then doing that is an investment in your future health and well-being, and it will help you to avoid burning out along the way.
Originally published on Suite101.com on June 4, 2008