6 Real Moms on How They Deal with Parental Burnout

Whether you’re exhausted from a sleep regression or a kid calendar on overdrive with friend birthday parties, parental burnout is real—and it’s becoming more rampant, according to studies. A recent report published in Clinical Psychological Science describes parental burnout as the moment “when the daily stress of parenting becomes chronic” causing an “intense exhaustion that can lead parents to feel detached from their children and unsure of their parenting abilities.”

The scary part? The impact of parental burnout can have consequences—not just on mom and dad, but on the child, too. That’s why lead researcher Moïra Mikolajczak tells Science Daily that parents should do “whatever allows [them] to recharge their batteries and avoid exhaustion.”

That’s why we decided to check in with real moms who have found their own practical solutions for when they need a minute to reboot.

6 Ways to Recover from Parental Burnout

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The Mom Who Swears In Her Texts (but Not At Her Kid)

“I try to remember that it’s my job to understand my daughter’s context, but that she can’t understand mine when she’s so little. In other words, if I yell at her, she won’t understand why. She’ll also feel really scared. So, when I feel the burnout creeping up, this thought helps me squirrel away my anger and replace it with the empathy I have for her. But I’m a firm believer in not bottling it up. So, I dial—or text—a friend and bitch at FULL VOLUME and with all the four-letter words, so that whatever it was that I’m momentarily frustrated or overwhelmed with doesn’t simmer and repeat.” — Jenna, mom of one

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The Mom Who Goes To The Movies

“Ever since becoming a parent, I’ve had a really hard time disconnecting from the worry that I’m responsible and accountable for another human being at all times, whether I’m in their presence or not. To be honest, that’s where the parental burnout creeps in. But for my entire life, slipping out to see a movie is the only time that I truly feel like I can log off. (I won’t even text.) So, I try to slip out to see a movie at the theater at least a couple of times a month. I strive to find movies that are in the 90-minute range (definitely not more than two hours) since I’m OK being unreachable, but not too unreachable, but this allows me to have a mini-break in a dark theater and feel swept away by what’s happening on-screen versus in my own life. I always feel like a new person when I come out.” — Kate, mom of one

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The Mom Who Relaxes With Retail Therapy—but Not For Her

“I have a standing date with another mom friend to hit up a really good crop of outlets in a nearby town. It’s about an hour drive and I pick her up, so we ride together and chat and decompress. Then, we shop—but not for us, for our kids. They outgrow things so fast and always have an item they need like new shoes or a snowsuit. The errand is social and separate from them, but it’s also related to them, so I don’t feel totally guilty about leaving them with my spouse or the nanny and giving myself a physical break. When I get back, I feel refreshed from the social time, but also accomplished since I can cross something off my to-do list, too.” — Margaret, mom of two

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The Mom Who Goes On 15-minute Runs

“This has become a lifeline—and something that’s highly coordinated with my husband. Three (sometimes four) times a week, I get out for a 15-minute run before work. It clears my head while also giving me the mental space to work out things in my mind that are stressing me out. Say, a child care issue. Or irritation with my kid over their picky eating tendencies. Those 15 minutes feel like a reset button, but also something where I do something for myself. When I return, if my kid won’t eat his veggies or my nanny runs late, I have a bit more patience and perspective because I’ve already checked in physically and emotionally with myself.” — Jordan, mom of one

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The Mom Who Lets Someone Else Take The Reins

“One of the things that is a struggle for me is letting go. I work, so I want to be with my kid all the other moments when I’m not at the office, but that’s the burnout risk. I need time away. So, I force myself randomly to sit activities out. The payoff is two-fold. For example, when I opt out of a baby birthday—and let me husband take my daughter instead—it gives me a break to sit at home, to clean, to potter and listen to a podcast. But it also ups my husband’s expertise and limits any gatekeeping on my end. Parenting solo is hard work, after all!” — Stephanie, mom of one

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The Mom Who Gets Regular Foot Rubs

“Yes, this is an indulgence that costs money. But there’s a place near me that does 30 minutes for $25 in spa-like conditions (i.e., talking and phone use is discouraged). Those 30 minutes can feel like a rebirth.” — Genevieve, mom of three

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...