Here are some warning signs of parent burnout

For all the moms and dads feeling exhausted and overwhelmed before the day has even begun, experts say it could be a warning sign of parent burnout.

‘Allow yourself to be less than perfect,’ parenting expert says

Experts say parents can avoid an emotional breakdown by not trying to be perfect. (pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock)

For all the moms and dads feeling exhausted and overwhelmed before the day has even begun, experts say it could be a warning sign of parent burnout.

Parenting expert Ann Douglas spoke with Daybreak Alberta about the extra pressures parents face these days.

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: What do we know about parent burnout and how prevalent it is?

A: A new study published in a journal called Frontiers of Psychology says one in eight parents will struggle with parent burnout. Every parent on the planet knows what it feels like to be a little bit frazzled, frustrated and overwhelmed. That's just normal parenting.

When things get into the territory of parent burnout is when things are more prolonged. Everyday feels like a bad day, drifting into a pattern where you feel emotionally disconnected from your child.

Q: How much of our modern pressures feed this burnout?

A: It's hugely hard now. Heard of Pinterest? It's where you pin the most ideal version of your life. We have this pressure to put out there this image of our 'uber-perfect' lives.

Q: It's become utterly ridiculous to some extent. Parenting used to be simpler.

A: The checklist used to be: keep the kid safe and healthy. Then we started adding on layers and layers of things that are all very important but I think we have to realize that you can't do everything perfectly.

We want to have wonderful experiences, but we can't be super perfect all knowing beings 24-7 because nobody is capable of that.

So many parents are dealing with financial pressures — relationship stress is in the background — but parenting is just one piece of our increasingly stressful and busy lives.

The warning signs

Q: Some parents might not know they have parent burnout. What are some symptoms?

A: If you agree with one or more of these statements you should at least consider the possibility you may be experiencing some amount of burnout:

  • When I think about being a parent, I feel like I'm at the end of my rope.
  • I sometimes feel as though, when I'm parenting, I am on auto-pilot.
  • I feel emotionally drained by my parenting role.

Q: How should parents manage it?

A: Put the brakes on those expectations. Be a bit more realistic of what you are asking of yourself. Allow yourself to be less than perfect. Allow yourself to take time for yourself, so you don't get burnt out.

Realize you can't be all things to all people at all times.

You don't have to do this alone. Every parent struggles with this. No one ever feels completely on top of their parenting game. Don't be afraid to ask for help and extend a helping hand to others.

With files from Daybreak Alberta