To become a parent is such a blessing. This new role of being a "mom" or "dad" is wonderful and full of adventures. This new role is also exhausting, stressful and there are moments where I feel incapable. When I also take into consideration the past few years and how these events have impacted parenting, there is no wonder why I (and I think safe to say we) feel insane at times. Life and all of its demands keep going. So what can we do when we reach a breaking point or find ourselves on the edge of a breakdown?
1. Stop Should-ing on Yourself.
What does should-ing on yourself sound like? Examples include "I should be taking them to the park instead of having them watch T.V" or "I should be like that parent over there, why can't I be like them?!" or "I should be ____" you fill in the blank. Often times these "should" statements come from a unrealistic expectation of ourselves. Instead try reframing, for example "It would be wonderful if I had the time to take them to the park" or "It would be nice if I had energy like that parent over there." Release yourself from should-ing.
2. Take Breaks
This may look like locking yourself in the bathroom or bedroom for a few minutes so that you can catch your breath and calm your nervous system down. There are moments that I will let my child know that I love him and will be back in a few minutes and I will remove myself from his tantrum when possible. What are some ways you can prioritize a few minutes to relax and enjoy something? I don't enjoy waking up early, but I do enjoy drinking coffee alone before my little one wakes up. I encourage you to make the time and take the time to have your parenting breaks.
3. Share with Trusted People
When we are able to talk about the wonderful and challenging things of parenting, this act of talking does the opposite of what shame wants you to do which is isolate yourself from others. Often times when parent burnout occurs shame is ever so present. I like to think of shame as an island in the middle of no where and there is only you and a newborn baby all alone. How lonely right?! How scary! Shame wants us to hide away. When we experience burnout, the last thing we want to do is reach out. If you lack a safe and supportive community then ask your midwife or pediatrician for resources. If you attend a church, ask your church leaders if there are parenting groups available. Google, yes I am encouraging you to Google things like "parenting groups near me" or "parenting support." Overall do the opposite of shame and start talking.
May you experience moments of peace.
May you receive hope and strength.
Mariesa Hipolito, MA, LPCC