Parental burnout is becoming all too common. Its definition hits the mark: a unique and context-specific syndrome resulting from enduring exposure to chronic parenting stress. But given everyday stressors made all the more difficult with COVID, is there a way to avoid parental burnout?
Lisa Bodell, author of Why Simple Wins and CEO of FutureThink, believes there is. But first, it’s important to look at the state of parenting today and why so many parents have a surplus of tasks and a shortage of time.
Bodell believes this is due to three key factors:
1. Increased Speed
Technology has moved us forward at such a rapid pace we now have things available to us quicker than ever before. Bodell cautions this may lead to parents putting additional pressure on themselves. “This makes us think, ‘Since I can do things faster, shouldn’t I be doing more?’”
2. Increased Choice
It’s not enough to simply send your child to school anymore. Today’s parents are tasked with creating full and enriching lives for their kids. During normal times this leads to jam-packed calendars of extra-curricular activities, but now they find themselves having to figure out how to do it while trapped at home or without the usual options.
Parents find themselves asking, “What else should I be accomplishing?”
3. Increased Expectations
In this information age, parents are bombarded with input. Bodell tells Parentology, “We get advice from everyone all the time, often conflicting and rarely supportive, about how to do things better, differently, smarter.” The question this brings to the fore — “Am I do everything, or anything, right?”
What results from increased speed, choice and expectations? Being overwhelmed. Bodell says, “Parents have fallen into the complexity trap, feeling their value is in doing as much as possible for their children.”
Bodell says the true path to better parenting lies in simplifying and focusing on what adds value to your child’s life.
How to Avoid Parental Burnout
To begin the simplification process, she recommends examining everyday choices.
Is this valuable? Will this have a lasting impact?
There are so many opportunities to participate in your child’s life, but do these things really make a difference to them? Bodell says, “When I consider all the demands on my time, I’d rather go to less and pay more attention, than attend things my kids won’t remember anyway.”
Stop the obligations.
As parents, we often overcommit. Bodell says take a minute to think about each obligation and its purpose. “I ask myself: will doing this make me or my kid happy?”
Know that an organized life isn’t always a simplified one.
Bodell warns against mistaking organization for simplification.
“When I feel something isn’t working, I ask myself: What serves no purpose and should be stopped? What’s the bare minimum I can do to achieve the same result?”
Simplification offers parents and kids a way to focus on what truly matters. Applying these principles may even make you feel comfortable that you could be doing it “right.”