Today children are much more likely to grow up in a home where their parents work. Currently in almost half of the families of two parents, both work full time and have to take care of their children, leading to parental fatigue problems .

Fathers exhausted the first months of the baby.

Over the decades, more and more parents are working, however what has not changed is the difficulty of balancing everything. Working parents say they feel stressed, tired, rushed, and short on quality time with their children, friends, partners, or hobbies.

Parental fatigue

All parents can relate to the feeling of being on the brink of exhaustion or on the brink of defeat.

The parental fatigue is defined as a “unique and specific context resulting from prolonged exposure to chronic parental stress syndrome.” Its main symptom is overwhelming exhaustion related to one’s role as a parent. Other symptoms include: 

  • Emotional distancing from children.
  • Feeling fed up with parenting.
  • Losing the sense of accomplishment of being a parent.

Life with babies and young children is not always easy. Probably the biggest issue here is lack of sleep.
Parents, especially mothers, are always tired, this is often the most talked about, and the worst thing is that fatigue does not last only the first months of the baby, but can become chronic if we do not know how to treat it.

Being a parent really is more exhausting than working

In a study on parental fatigue that was carried out at the University of Leuven in Belgium, more than 2,000 parents were surveyed about their experience raising their children. 1 in 10 stated that caring for children compromises emotional and physical health.

The final results of the research concluded that raising a child is more exhausting than working , and showed that 13% of the participants had high levels of stress and fatigue, with rates ranging from 11.6% for parents to 12.9 % for mothers.

Parental fatigue from a psychological perspective

Psychologists first used the term burnout in the late 1960s to describe the consequences of chronic stress at work. Research showed that especially those who were affected were those who cared for others, such as caring for the elderly and the sick.

Typical signs were exhaustion, indifference, low efficiency, and decreased identification with work . Most of the time it was only those who had previously been the most involved.

In the 1980s, some scientists considered for the first time that parents can also suffer from burnout. However, they initially only screened mothers and fathers of chronically ill children and largely ignored the general public. Researchers at the Research Institute of Psychological Sciences at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium have been investigating parental fatigue for some time.

Since 2011, 3,000 parents have been closely followed. During this time, it was discovered that the characteristic symptoms of parental exhaustion or fatigue can occur in all types of families . Not only is a child’s illness a risk factor, but also a lack of skills to deal with stress, separation from a partner, and a lack of friends they can trust can all be triggers for fatigue.

Coping With Parental Fatigue

The researchers suggest a simultaneous approach to increasing resources and reducing risk factors . For example, if parental chores are weighing you down, consider the help of a daycare center. Or, if parenting rules and ways (for example, five fruits and vegetables a day, no TV watching before age six, warm, positive parenting) are doing more harm than good, consider relaxing your notion of what it means. Being a good father. 

According to this advice, you will have to identify your biggest stressors while caring for your children and take steps to create resources to help you overcome them.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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