Recognizing and combating parental fatigue
When you’re a parent, your children are your world. They consume much of your time, headspace and resources. Raising a child can feel like a thankless job—aside from the occasional hug, and “I love you!”, your child may not outwardly appreciate all that you do. People are born self-centered in order to survive, and have to be taught to be grateful, respectful and empathetic. Teenagers and young adults can seem especially unappreciative, retreating from your attempts to parent them as they become more independent. When you’re parenting a child with ADHD, your job is often more difficult. Yet you do it all willingly (and most days with a smile) because you love them—sometimes so much that you give all of yourself to keep them safe and happy.
Parenting under pressure
What do you do when you lose your job, a loved one gets sick, or disaster strikes? Financial strain or caring for an elderly adult or a child with special needs can bring even the strongest person to their knees. The global pandemic has isolated, stressed, and depressed many of us, as we’ve all had to cope with worry, anxiety, and stress. Parenting under added pressures like these can make even the simplest daily tasks overwhelming.
Parental fatigue or burnout is when the job of parenting leads to extreme stress in our bodies and minds. Caring for children with physical, cognitive, or behavior challenges, combined with the other stressors of life, can quickly push parents past their breaking point. Even everyday tasks like laundry and cooking can be exhausting. Depression, detachment, and emotional outbursts are common symptoms and without attention, parental fatigue can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.
Strategies to cope with parental fatigue
Nobody wants to explode on their kids—or worse, have a physical or mental breakdown. Your family needs you, so what do you do?
- Recognize that parenting is hard. Even in the best of circumstances, the sleepless nights, endless loads of laundry, and constant cooking and cleaning are exhausting. Remote learning, school activities, parent-teacher meetings, doctor appointments, and endless errands can have you running around in circles. You’re not a bad parent if you’re tired—with all there is to be done in a day, even a superhero would be spent.
- Give yourself a break—literally and figuratively. Don’t carry the burden alone. Delegate chores and tasks to your partner, family members, friends, neighbors, spiritual community, or anyone else who is willing to help. There’s a reason they say it takes a village to raise a child. Teach your children to be self-sufficient in as many ways as they are able. Teenagers and young adults should be caring for their own things in addition to daily household chores that benefit the whole family. They will grow into more capable adults when they learn how to share the load at home first. If you feel like you’re having to micro-manage your child in order for them to get things done, maybe an EFS Coach could be a good fit. A coach can help students learn self-regulation in their academics and in their lives. This can really help you lighten your load.
- Practice self-care. It might feel selfish, but it’s not—who will care for your family if you’re too fatigued to get out of bed? Drink lots of water, eat healthy, exercise, sleep as much as you can, unplug, get outside and let nature refresh you. Meet up with friends, laugh often, join a support group, pursue hobbies, and connect with your spirituality. If you’ve lost yourself, find yourself again—it might be easier than you think.
Parental fatigue is very real and can make every day seem endless. But with a few adjustments, you can overcome it. In an extreme case, seek professional help and don’t ever, ever give up. You and your family deserve the best you possible.
M.Ed., BCC, CSS and Co-founder of Thrivister
As co-founder of Thrivister, my purpose and passion is to help young adults with executive function challenges to thrive: manage, organize and be successful in their academics, careers and life. My successful EFS Coaching Method and journey as an ADHD coach, career service specialist, author, blogger, podcaster and board-certified coach for over a decade, has laid the foundation for our platform.
We believe opportunities are plentiful for someone with executive function challenges when they have the support and resources behind them. It is our mission through Thrivister to help as many people as possible be successful academically and into their future careers and life.
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