Resource Blog/Media/MARNI Wald Parent Burnout HERO


Help for Parents Feeling Burnout, Isolation and Loneliness

Baptist Health Marcus Neuroscience Institute

The baby is crying, demanding to be fed. If you’re not out the door in five minutes, your older child will be late to his baseball game. And then your phone rings and it’s a work colleague with an emergency request. It’s no wonder that parents these days are feeling more overwhelmed, isolated and depressed than ever before.


Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently published the results of a national study showing that 66 percent of parents frequently feel lonely and isolated and that 62 percent are experiencing burnout because of their parenting responsibilities.


Their findings are particularly relevant as the summer months drag on. Less structure and more erratic summer schedules can make it difficult for parents as they piece together child care or camp programs, the planning and execution of a family vacation can be stressful and plain unaffordable, and requesting time off can test the skills of even the best negotiators.


While parent burnout isn’t new, there is a better understanding today of what parents go through as they struggle to balance it all, and often without the support of family or friends, says Raphi Wald, Psy.D., a board-certified neuropsychologist with Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health.



Dr. Raphi Wald Headshot

Raphi Wald, Psy.D., a board-certified neuropsychologist with Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health


“Being surrounded by a lot of work and stress ― and your kids whom you love but can push you to the edge ― can make those feelings of isolation worse,” Dr. Wald says. “There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling alone but not being alone. It’s like the college student who has no friends at a university of 30,000 kids.”


The survey also revealed that 38 percent of participants said there was no one to support them in their parenting role and 79 percent said they would benefit by connecting with other parents outside of work and home.


As parents grapple with these issues, the first things they should consider are cutting themselves some slack and doing some self-care, which could include exercise, meditation or an activity they enjoy, Dr. Wald advises.


“There’s more of a focus today on the fact that we don’t need to be perfect parents, we just need to be good enough,” he says. “Do you provide your child with a stable home, a bed, food and as much support as possible? Are you not neglecting or abusing them? Are you giving them opportunities to thrive? Perhaps that is good enough.”


The father of three children ranging in age from 8 to 13, Dr. Wald said good communication and the divide-and-conquer method of handling all of the kids’ activities are practices that he and his wife put into play. While they realize they are fortunate to have additional family support, they’ve also found that becoming friends with the parents of kids on their children’s sports teams has been beneficial.


“It checks so many boxes,” he says. “You’re going to be spending a lot of time together anyway and the kids are already friends.” Arranging play dates and rides to and from practices and games is easier when you’re already close.


In two-parent households, one partner can often be found carrying a larger childcare burden than the other, not always without reason. But it’s important, Dr. Wald says, to acknowledge the tasks you are both doing, to work together and to look for ways to alleviate some of the stress for when responsibilities can’t be shifted. This might include a night out with friends for the partner carrying the heavy load. It’s common for single parents and those who have children with disabilities or illnesses to face even greater challenges.


So how do you know when it’s time to find help, whether that means hiring a sitter or a driver, finding support through your church or another organization or seeking out a therapist? “If it seems like too much for one person to manage, it probably is,” he says. “Rather than banging your head against the wall, look for help.”


No one makes it through parenthood without some stress, doubt or exhaustion, but professional help is extremely important when you find your life being impacted by:

·      Depression – a general feeling of sadness or unhappiness and a loss of enjoyment in things you once found pleasure in

·      Changes in appetite

·      Changes in sleep patterns

·      Feelings of guilt or remorse

·      Feelings of isolation and emotional detachment

·      Thoughts of self-harm or suicide


Today’s technology makes it easier to find a therapist such as a psychologist, family counselor or other mental health counselor. Word-of-mouth, your company’s employee assistance program or wellness plan, telehealth or other online services can be useful, as well as a referral from your primary care physician.


“It never hurts to have a session with a psychologist or counselor, and there are many no- or low-cost options available,” Dr. Wald says. “Keep in mind that psychology and psychiatry in the old days kind of blamed the parents for everything that was wrong in a family. It doesn’t really work that way anymore. Good psychologists don’t blame life problems on the parent unless there is a really good reason. You shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.”

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