At this point in the pandemic, parents experience many struggles. The past year has already been hard for most parents due to the rising concern about jobs, Covid 19 precautions, isolations and current shutdowns.
So many parents were previously burned out by the demands of the pandemic hitting last spring. Parents around the country were suddenly forced to care for their children full time, and often supervise their children, all while continuing to do their own jobs.
In the summer with the school out and many camps closed, there was no relief. Then came fall, with many parents juggling the ins and outs of remote learning and many parents, dropping out of the workforce.
Now it’s February, and parents are still in the same situation they were put into 11 months ago. Parents are trying to balance work, child care, education, and keeping their families safe as the pandemic still has no end in sight.
Parents often feel like they’re not doing enough. Parents kind of decide what’s important in the moment to focus on that and do a good job, but often something else has got to give. Many are not doing that great and experience a lot of burnout symptoms. So many parents have been left to fend for themselves, with their reserves of strength, energy, positivity and sleep tapped out. Especially as a single parent, support is particularly needed.
Others are figuring out ways to lighten their burnout. Some are doing ok. But even though individual families are finding ways to make pandemic a little easier, parents and experts alike agree they need more support than they’re getting with jobs, school and remote learning.
Here are a 5 ways I have come across that might help alleviate some of the stress and burnout as a parent:
Lean into your circle of friends and family - a good first step is asking for help from a friend or family member. Research finds over and over that asking for help and receiving it when experiencing burnout, is something that actually does fill us up. When we can help each other, it feels great too. So, ask for support. Some families are able to come together and help each other out with school by supervising school duties and children of other parents.
Next, making a schedule and keeping structure is important even for the small things - being able to predict things in uncertain times will help alleviate anxiety and burnout. Parents can relax a bit more knowing what’s going to happen. That’s why it’s important to try and get up at the same time every day and make sure you’re doing things you’d normally do, including taking a shower, exercising and eating breakfast. Establishing a sense of normalcy helps, so that way there is a level of control, especially when so much feels out of your control.
Focus on whatever self-care means to you – for some that seems very impractical especially with so many suffering and experiencing complete burnout. Who has the time or money to hit the break or go to a massage? Yet when we are in a collective crisis like right now, it is quite important. That can even just mean, ‘I’m going to turn off my screen and go take a 20-minute walk’. Know that your kids don’t need you constantly. Take a pause on your professional and personal goals. It is ok to not push yourself to the max right now.
Make time for your kids to release any feelings of not doing enough or parent guilt. Rather than being busy and micromanaging and causing additional burnout symptoms, kids often just want quality time with their parents. May it be through play such as a fun pillow fight, chalk messages for friends on the street, facetime sessions with other family members, meal time planning or even reading a book with your kids or taking a few minutes out of the day to have a genuine moment by laughing together, can refuel the whole family.
Make sure to disconnect - unplug. Make a conscious choice to take a brain break even if your children’s schooling or your job requires hours of screen time. Unfollow negative friends and limit your exposure to negative news. By doing that you can avoid adding to the burnout and the traumatic experience we are all going through right now. It is important as a parent to remind yourself to recharge. Know that we are all in this together. Reminding each other that it’s OK to shut down early at the end of a challenging week is vital. Working on the only thing that will matter post-pandemic: our loved ones and our own mental health, is what matters.
These times are weird for sure and can wreak havoc on us. Remember that we are all in this together. The ending is the same, which is hopefully making the choice that we all bond together during this time. Let this be an opportunity for us to forge stronger bonds with family and friends and make sure we take care of ourselves in addition to each other. Ask for help and support if needed so that we can support you during your challenging time and the burnout you are experiencing as a parent.