Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when a person feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands. After months of staying at home amid the Covid 19 Pandemic, family burnout is becoming an additional challenged in some households. Families across the nation are experiencing symptoms of family burnout these days. Now that schools are out for the summer and millions are currently unemployed, Partners, Parents and Children who are together 24/7 may soon feel even more desperate for a few moments alone and a return to their pre-Covid19 routines. But the current rise in cases and the delay of reopening plans in several states may signal that families will need to remain together at home even longer than they realized. However, households that are feeling togetherness fatigue can take steps to alleviate family burnout and ease the strain on their relationships.
The additional toll faced by single parents
For single parents still working, now depleted of their normal childcare assistance, the pandemic may mean more to do and fewer opportunities for self-care than ever before. “In a two-parent household, division of tasks allows each parent to have some relief, but single-parent households typically take on all of these tasks themselves, which can absolutely lead to burnout quicker.” For single parents in a pandemic, there’s no partner to help, share responsibilities and there are few, if any, opportunities to get away and breathe by oneself. The result can easily lead to family burnout.
Family burnout can affect romantic relationships too
Months together in quarantine can also be a strain on romantic relationships. “When one person in a relationship is experiencing burnout, the other can typically pick up the slack, but when both are, it can be a struggle to connect and feel your best.” The impact on marriages and romantic relationships is considered part of the collateral damage of COVID-19. In times of high stress, it may not always be the best thing to be locked at home together, incapable of getting the space and clear head that’s often needed to work through marital discord.
It’s not just parents and adults — kids can experience family burnout as well
“Burnout in children often presents as anxiety, being irritable, poor academic performance, or staying isolated from peers and not expressing interest in playing.” A recent survey in Italy found that children are experiencing psychological impacts as a result of lockdown. They’re more irritable, having trouble sleeping, and many are regressing developmentally. “Compared to younger children, teenagers may be more likely to experience burnout due to higher academic workload, greater need for peer interaction, and more frequent conflicts with parents.”
How to reduce the impact of burnout in your household?
But just because so many are experiencing burnout doesn’t mean it can’t be helped. Burnout can be prevented by having a better balance between family time versus me time. When dealing with kids who may be acting out as a result of lockdown stress, parents should try using encouragement and positive reinforcement over punishment techniques. “Having a routine for sleep, meals, and study time can help children feel prepared for the next activity and avoid some conflicts.”