Parents know that the parenting journey isn’t easy, and some stages seem harder than others. You don’t have much extra time with the late nights, meltdowns, homework, sporting events, and other commitments. It’s easy to place your needs last, even when you know you’re an overwhelmed parent.
When you experience burnout as a parent, you’ve reached a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. It can lead to depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, and illness. You might zone out, show minimal emotions, and offer little support to those around you.
After a while, you might have feelings of shame, guilt, and resentment. When you feel like you’re always doing things for others, it’s hard not to feel like a personal assistant 24-hours a day. Eventually, you won’t have anything left to give your children and partner.
Luckily, if you feel overwhelmed, you can make some changes to improve your situation. With self-care, better communication, and processing of your feelings, you’ll begin feeling better. You can identify the signs of an overwhelmed parent in yourself and others, allowing you to address your situation.
Why Does Being an Overwhelmed Parent Happen
Sometimes society will put pressure on you based on their expectations of parenting. Likewise, you might pressure yourself because of your perception of what parenting should look like. Either way, being pushed to be a certain way certainly doesn’t help.
You’ll become overwhelmed because of prolonged stress. With constant demands, it’s easy to feel like you can’t meet the expectations. Your family looks to you to take the lead, leaving you feeling like the scheduler, planner, organizer, and everything in between.
However, don’t lose hope because being an overwhelmed parent is temporary. You can make changes that will shift the way you feel, helping you live a more fulfilling life. Determining the causes and risk factors of parental burnout can help you identify and address the issue.
Who is at Risk of Being an Overwhelmed Parent?
All parents are at risk of parental burnout, but some are more susceptible than others. While it doesn’t target any specific group, the risk factors include:
- Not having the necessary resources to care for a child
- Inability to handle child-related stress
- Lack of employment
- Being an older parent
- Having multiple children
- Lack of support from other trusted adults
- Experiencing financial concerns
- Working too much or in a stressful environment
- Having poor boundaries
- Being a people-pleaser
- Lack of communication
- Unrealistic expectations from yourself or others
- Scheduling conflicts that require missing an event or stressful planning
- Not trusting others
While these risk factors increase your chances of being an overwhelmed parent, it can happen to anyone. You might not identify with any risk factors and still experience burnout. Look for the signs of an overwhelmed parent to know if you need to make any lifestyle changes.
Eleven Signs of an Overwhelmed Parent
Do these signs sound familiar to you?
1. An Overwhelmed Parent May Feel too Tired to Speak
If you ever feel like you don’t even want to talk to anyone because you’re so tired, it’s a sure sign of being overwhelmed. Even when you want to tell someone something, you won’t want to put in the effort. Plus, you may have already had to talk to your kids so much today that you need a few minutes of silence.
2. You Cringe When You Hear Your Child Yell for You
You know you need a break if you cringe when your child calls your name from the other room. Even parents who love having kids will feel this way sometimes. There are days when it seems like your kids need you every second, and it can be enough to cause burnout.
Every time your child calls your name, you can guess what they want. It’s not usually to tell you they love you, as more often it’s because there’s a problem. You’ll cringe because you know they need something, want to whine, or something happened. It often signals that something more gets added to your already overflowing plate.
3. You Over-Caffeinate
If you need three cups of coffee before you can function and communicate, it’s a sign of an overwhelmed parent. While you might not think it’s a problem, too much caffeine has detrimental effects. Sure, it helps you get through your morning with kids, but it’s not a fix-all.
4. You Wonder if You Need Professional Help
If you ever wonder if you need professional help, you should probably reach out. You should seek help before you reach your breaking point. If it crosses your mind, there’s no reason not to start on a treatment plan.
It’s easier to find the help you need before reaching crisis mode. You’ll think more clearly and identify your needs easier if you get a head start. Parenthood is challenging for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with getting professional help.
Preventative care can help you get ahead of worsening emotions. A professional can help you find coping mechanisms that work for you, helping you feel better and take care of yourself.
5. You Pretend Things Are Broken
If you pretend things your kids want to do aren’t working just so you don’t have to do it, you might be overwhelmed. Think about if you’ve told your kids the slide at the park is broken, and you can’t go that day. Or, you might have said that an annoying toy doesn’t work anymore.
Anytime you pretend things don’t work so that you don’t have to deal with it, it’s time to make some changes. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with disliking that annoying toy, but it shouldn’t cause a problem unless you’re overwhelmed.
6. You Don’t Have Time to Feed Your Kids Breakfast
You’ll know your life is too busy, and you’ve become overwhelmed if you don’t have time to feed your children breakfast. If the beginning of your day is so hectic that breakfast often goes uneaten, it’s time to make a change.
Your children won’t starve over missing one meal, but you don’t want to send them to school hungry. Having time to slow down in the mornings will improve your family life.
7. Parenting Is Hard and You Just Want to Get Away
You know you’re an overwhelmed parent when you feel like you can’t be around them anymore. The frustration becomes so intense that you want to get away however you can. When this happens, you’ll take your time grocery shopping alone or running to the post office because it’s the only chance you have.
You might feel like your kids don’t understand personal space, and you want some time to be alone for a minute. They come in the bathroom when you’re there, hang on your legs when you cook dinner, and always want you. Understandably, you want to get away sometimes.
8. You Experience Outbursts and Violent Urges
You likely try to hold it together, but sometimes you’ll be so overwhelmed that you experience intense emotions. It can manifest as emotional outbursts or violent urges. You might find yourself swearing at your child, losing your temper, or snapping over something minor.
If you experience violent urges, you should immediately remove yourself from the situation. It can be dangerous, and your first priority is to make sure your child is safe. Be honest with yourself if you experience these urges because they could intensify.
9. You Neglect Yourself if You Are an Overwhelmed Parent
One sign of an overwhelmed parent is self-neglect. You won’t take care of your needs, leaving you stuck in a depressive state. Taking care of yourself means eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough rest. If you stop doing these things, it’s clear that you need to make a change.
Parents often leave the house with spit-up or other stains on their clothes. Some parents don’t even get dressed or wait until late in the day to get ready. If you can’t bring yourself to change clothes or take care of yourself, it’s a sign of being overwhelmed.
10. It’s Not Worth the Effort to Move to the Next Stage
Overwhelmed parents often avoid taking the next step with their children because it’ll be more work. Mothers might continue breastfeeding even after they’re ready to stop because weaning their child seems like it’ll take too much work. Likewise, parents sometimes allow their children to continue using pacifiers or sippy cups even when it’s time to move on.
11. An Overwhelmed Parend Feels Constantly Exhausted
Constant exhaustion is a sure sign of an overwhelmed parent. You might lack the energy to cook dinner, so you resort to takeout more often than not. Additionally, exhaustion causes you to miss appointments, forget names, and show up late. Other people might not understand it, but other overwhelmed parents do.
Final Thoughts on Signs of an Overwhelmed Parent
The challenges in parenting are common, and burnout happens to many of us. If you’re an overwhelmed parent, remember that you can make beneficial changes. Identify your sources of stress and then find ways to alleviate the negativity.
You deserve to be happy and enjoy your journey. Don’t let the exhausting and overwhelming feelings get the best of you. Once you identify if you’re an overwhelmed parent, you can start making the necessary changes to enjoy your life again.