A mother and daughter sitting at a table painting a glass cactus together.
Navigating Parenthood: Recognizing Signs of Stress and Preventing Burnout
Written by Omni-Rose Clayton, LGPC.
Clinically reviewed by Jacqueline Mitchell, LMSW

At some point or another, a person has questioned themselves about children. Some dreamt of having multiples, while some dreamt of a life full of independence instead. Personally, I dreamt of having four children, two girls and two boys. Needless to say, I am currently a mom of three girls. Well, that wasn’t the plan you say? No, it wasn’t. Did I mention in that “dream,” my children would be no more than two years apart? My children are 10, 7, and 1.

To take it a step further, I dreamt that my babies would be like the baby dolls I received for Christmas. I am here to tell you, everything I “dreamt” was, in fact, a dream. My babies spit up, kept me up throughout the night, had me in the emergency room in the “wee” hours of the morning, and I could go on. I experienced parental burnout on numerous occasions and that was not a part of the plan either and no one is quite ready for that.

We make plans, but as we know and as I have mentioned above, plans don’t always go as planned. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, parental burnout has been defined as exhaustion that occurs as a result of being physically and emotionally overwhelmed by one’s parental role. Parental burnout is common amongst caregivers. It can affect a parent physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here, I will discuss the signs of stress or burnout and ways to prevent burnout.

What are the signs of stress & burnout?

Are you a caregiver? Do you find yourself “hiding out” in the bathroom occasionally, taking a quick drive to the store, or screaming into a pillow? Please note, you are not alone. I have answered yes to these questions on multiple occasions. If you, too, answered yes to either of those questions, you may be dealing with stress. Stress is defined as a state of worry caused by a difficult situation. Some common signs of stress are sleeping issues, fatigue, difficulty breathing, irritability, depression, panic attacks, social isolation, chest pains, high blood pressure, blurred eyesight, muscle aches, headaches, indigestion, and heartburn. Let me share with you ways to assist with these symptoms.

What are some small, everyday actions that can help prevent burnout?

  1. Take it easy.
    Parenting is the hardest job. Mainly because no one is ever prepared for it. We pay attention to our upbringing and we try to either duplicate or “rewrite” the journey. There’s no rule book or guide. Mistakes will happen, while apologies may or may not be a piece of the journey. Remember that parenting is difficult. Focus on your achievements and pat yourself on the back.
  2. Set Boundaries.
    Learn that saying “No” is okay. Don’t force yourself to take on more than you can handle. For instance, if your best friend needs a babysitter for their two-year-old, but you are exhausted with your children, telling them “no” is okay. Eliminate volunteering time you could use for self-care.
  3. Ask for help–don’t be ashamed.
    As parents, we want our children to view us as their ‘hero.’ We want them to recognize that we provide all they want or need. Asking for help is difficult for some. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Parental burnout could lead to depression and other wellness concerns. The more that you show up for yourself, the more you will be able to show up for your children. We have all heard that it takes a village, and it surely does. If you have people who you trust with your children, reach out, ask for help, to avoid burnout.


If you or someone you know are experiencing the signs of parental burnout, I encourage you to seek professional support. Backpack Healthcare makes therapy accessible for parent training, individuals, and families. Therapy can be a valuable resource and Backpack offers clinicians who are dependable, understanding, and flexible. Visit our website at hellobackpack.com for additional resources.

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