For working mothers, the strain of managing professional responsibilities and the demands of life in today's society often leads to a unique form of parental burnout.
As a therapist, I see this in my clients when they are in a relentless cycle of deadlines, child care, and household duties. My clients do not want to choose between caring for their children and their professional fulfillment. Instead, they often struggle in silence.
In this post, I will further explain the invisible labor that most working mothers face. I will also explore practical ways to prioritize self-care and eliminate parental burnout.
What does parental burnout look like?
The parental burnout my clients often experience accurately represents what most mothers in the United States face.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, women were still responsible for most childcare and housework across all racial and age groups in the United States.
Parental burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion that leads to a sense of ineffectiveness and a feeling of being overwhelmed. It goes beyond the typical challenges and stresses of raising children and becomes a persistent condition that significantly impacts the health of the parent and the family.
The mental and emotional toll working mothers face every day.
Invisible labor is the work that often contributes to parental burnout.
The mental aspect of this involves planning, coordination, and decision-making. Examples of mental labor include creating family schedules, managing finances, planning meals, organizing family events, etc.
Emotional labor comes with nurturing a family and supporting children in their development. Parental emotional labor looks like creating a supportive home environment, resolving conflicts, attuning to the family's emotional needs, etc.
As you can see, the list under invisible labor can quickly add up with tasks. All of which are important. This labor can feel extra burdensome for working mothers, who often complete these tasks alone while managing demanding jobs.
Societal expectations of working mothers
Parental burnout is not just fatigue from long work hours or sleepless nights with a fussy baby; it's also the emotional toll of navigating societal expectations and workplace pressures while striving to be a good parent. Working mothers often end up multitasking and overthinking to get through the day.
Working mothers also usually experience guilt over not spending enough time with their children due to work commitments or feel shame about not dedicating more time to their careers. Societal expectations around the ideal work-life balance often intensify this internal conflict.
Working mothers feel inadequate when they view themselves falling short of these expectations. They often also withdraw and feel less satisfaction at work and home.
Changing expectations for oneself as a form of self-care
For working mothers to recover from parental burnout, it's essential to understand the pressures and demands listed above as unrealistic expectations. Therefore, it's vital to move away from them and determine a new foundation instead.
It's not about achieving a perfect balance but finding a sustainable rhythm that prioritizes well-being. Working mothers can redefine their priorities by focusing on their feelings, limits, and values.
Working mothers can also find validation from others who share their values. Not only can this inspire one to change expectations, but it also builds belonging and community.
Sharing the load as a form of self-care
Since much of parenting and domestic labor is unseen, others can find it difficult to notice the struggle. It's important not to suffer in silence.
Reaching out to a supportive network of friends and family can help break this silence. And this kind of support begins with your partner. It's essential to communicate your feelings and experiences to your partner and gain understanding from them. Your partner has to take on more parenting and domestic labor.
Sharing the load as a form of self-care also means letting go of perfectionism. Learning to let go can help you stay within your limits and build trust in others. This confidence enables you to connect better with yourself, work, and family.
Therapy for Burnout in Mahomet, IL Can Help
Understanding the challenges working mothers face is the first step in change. If you're ready to take the next step in recovery from parental burnout, you can schedule a therapy appointment to receive the support you deserve. You can start your therapy journey with Live Lekko by following these simple steps:
- Take the step by calling or texting 217-402-7817
- Schedule your first appointment at my Illinois-based practice
- Start receiving the self-care you deserve!
Other Services Offered with Live Lekko
Therapy for burnout isn't the only service offered with Live Lekko. You can experience more than one mental health concern, which is why I'm happy to offer help with a variety of mental health services. Other services offered include counseling for women and grief and loss counseling. I also offer counseling for people-pleasing, anxiety treatment, and therapy for childhood emotional neglect. Whether you are in Peoria, Springfield, Mahomet, or elsewhere in Illinois, I can help with teletherapy. I look forward to hearing how I can help you. Please visit my blog to learn more!