Parenting can be challenging and stressful. This can be especially true for working and/or single parents. When these stressors become overwhelming, they can lead to parental burnout, which can have detrimental effects on parents and their children. Studies have shown that parents who experience burnout are more likely to experience marital conflict, have an unhealthy sleeping pattern, be depressed and have suicidal ideations. Parents who experience burnout are also more likely to unintentionally neglect their children, such as by sleeping on the couch while their child is unsupervised, and are more likely to yell or insult their child as a result of feeling angry and overwhelmed.
So, how can parents overcome and even prevent parental burnout? Fortunately, healthcare providers have come up with a list of tips and behaviors that parents can adopt when they experience burnout symptoms. According to an article published on WebMD, parents can start by communicating their feelings with their partner and ask for support. Parents who experience exhaustion are encouraged to maintain a healthy and balanced diet rather than reaching out for coffee and/or sugary snacks, which is only a momentary solution that eventually leads to a crash. Instead, parents are encouraged to consume a mix of protein, whole grains, fiber and carbohydrates. For example, fruits and vegetables constitute a good example of healthy snacks. Exercise, on the other hand, can help reduce stress and depression.
Most importantly, parents should refrain from feeling guilty for experiencing burnout. Instead, they should remember that burnout is more common than they think and that this does not make them less of a good parent. Instead of feeling guilty, parents should focus on ways to overcome what they are feeling, such as by taking some time for themselves for self-care, asking for help from a sitter and setting realistic expectations instead of trying to adhere to idealistic societal expectations. If you are a parent and you are unsure of your symptoms, you can fill the Parental Burnout Assessment attached below. It is available in English and in Arabic. A score that is higher than 76 would likely indicate that you are experiencing parental burnout. Stay connected with your feelings and learn what coping strategies best work for you.
PBA - Algerian Arabic
PBA - English
Gannagé, M., Besson, E., Harfouche, J., Roskam, I., & Mikolajczak, M. (2020). Parental burnout in Lebanon: Validation psychometric properties of the Lebanese Arabic version of the Parental Burnout Assessment. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, (174), 51-65. https://doi.org/10.1002/cad.20383
Lebert-Charron, A., Dorard, G., Boujut, E., & Wendland. (2018). Maternal Burnout Syndrome: Contextual and Psychological Associated Factors. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00885
Mikolajczak, M., Brianda, M. E., Avalosse, H., & Roskam, I. (2018). Conequences of parental burnout : Its specific effect on child neglect and violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 80, 134-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.03.025
Roskam, I., Raes, M.-E., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Exhausted Parents: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Parental Burnout Inventory. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00163