Being a parent is not an easy task. Especially when you’re raising a little one while holding down a full time job. It is much more difficult than most people might imagine. Toddlers require constant attention, which can be exhausting. In fact, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that close to 13% of the parents surveyed, 12.9% of mothers and 11.6% of fathers, had what the researchers called “high burnout”. This means that they not only felt exhausted, but less productive, competent and emotionally withdrawn. Not sure if they needed a study for that but parental burnout is a real thing and here’s why scientists suggest that parents take breaks from their kids at least once a year.
According to experts, taking vacations actually benefits the whole family.
Most moms and dads think that taking a break from their young ones might be selfish, but the truth is that it’s one of the best things you can do for your family. Most parents feel guilt and their anxiety levels raise when thinking of being apart from their children. However, taking that small break can re-energize you so you can get back to playing with Legos, reading books and take care of the rest of the family.
“Maintaining the basic day-to-day with no extraordinary circumstances, keeping all those balls in the air, is a really demanding endeavor, and it leaves very little time for moms to be able to have fun, relax, rest and have downtime,” says Aimee Danielson, director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Taking time off also allows a parent to reflect on things in life and make changes if necessary.
We have a hard time making decisions, especially under stress. Taking a break from everything allows us to come to a rational decision, since it gives us time to think of the pros and cons of the decision we wish to make. Unlike the olden days, parents today are expected to be a ‘superhero in everything’. This means that not only do they have to give their best at their workplace, but when they come home exhausted, they have to put up a smile for their partner, and use the remaining energy to play with their kids.
After following the routine of always being there for our family members, it might seem like we are being selfish, for wanting some time alone. But Aimee Danielson says, “You’re allowed to go to a movie with your husband. You’re allowed to go to a movie with your friend without having a breakdown”. According to Vanina Nikolova, senior data analyst for Power to Fly, the “modern mindset” that you have to essentially be a “superhero in everything you do” is part of the problem.
While talking to CNN, Vanina Nikolova explains how real parental burnout really is. According to her, sometimes she wishes that someone would take her away for two or more weeks so she don’t have to deal with housework, co-sleeping, food fights and everything that comes with raising young ones.
“You have to excel at work. You have to excel in your relationship. You have to excel in society. You have to be a great parent who feeds the kids with organic food, stimulates their brains while still in uterus, finds the right balance between protecting them and yet exposing them to the real world, shuttles them to sports, arts,” and the list goes on and on, said Nikolova to CNN. “A supercomputer would go crazy. How about a simple human being!”.
It’s also very important for the younger generation to see balance in life since they are growing up seeing us being frustrated.
Constant housework and life revolving around serving others can cause fatigue. Over time, the fatigue can develop into stress, which is then bottled up until stepping on a LEGO brings it all out as frustration. Scientists say that in order to avoid such situations, we need to stop ourselves from becoming overworked. So, a vacation is not only beneficial for moms and dads, but also for the whole family. Relieving the stress allows one to think rational without breaking down on others.
Numerous studies have shown that taking time away from work and personal life can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. Studies also show that Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world, also take less vacations, work longer days and retire later. If you still need a little convincing, here is a list of some of the additional benefits of taking time away from work and personal life:
- Improved physical health
- Improved mental health
- Greater well-being
- Increased mental power
- Improved familial relationships
- Decreased burnout
- Boost in happiness
The bottom line is, taking time away from the stresses of work and daily life plays a significant role in our overall health, motivation, relationships, job performance, and perspective. It also gives us the break we need to return to our lives and jobs refreshed, and better equipped to handle whatever comes our way.
A caring parent will also take care of themselves.
This doesn’t mean that it should be used as an excuse to go out and spend the entire family budget. We suggest that you take a few days off every now and then to make trips to the beach, spa or wherever that provides you with some peace of mind. During those days, take time to reflect on yourself, forget about parenthood and the things that need to be done at the house. Instead of worrying, try to rejuvenate yourself and regain your physical and mental strength to make better decisions in life.
Especially in this social media age, people might be judgemental of you taking some time off. Regardless of what others think, try to enjoy the time off so you can take better care of your family and focus on things you wish to do.
Finding that “me” time is the key to success.
When parenting, it’s important that both moms and dads receive some time off for themselves. Self-care and ‘me’ time is so important to avoid parental burnout. “Burnout is also fueled by the constant vigilance, the need to deal with the ever-increased speed of technology, the internet and all the dangers in the world we now have to protect our children against”, says Elspas, founder of The Mommy Blog Expert.
If you are feeling burned out as a parent, just hang in there. Bishop, a radio host in Calgary, Alberta, says, “Here’s the thing about burnout: As soon as you’re just about done, things change. An infant eventually learns to sleep through the night; a toddler will become toilet trained. When they walk, you don’t have to pack a stroller when you go out. At meals, they eventually learn to feed themselves.”
So, hang in there, take some time off and spend time with your friends, go on vacations and do whatever that provides you with some energy.