Being a parent is one of the most difficult but important jobs you will ever have.

By Lynne Jones


Being a parent is one of the most difficult but important jobs you will ever have.

As parents and carers, we have had to become multi-tasking superheroes and the past

few years has seen us juggling home schooling, home keeping and for many home
working too. It has been a time of uncertainty and a stressful time for all concerned;
and that pandemic parenting tested the best of us!

For most, coming out of lockdown was viewed as another huge change, leaving
behind a way of life we have adopted to keep ourselves and our families safe. But
there was no roadmap for parents and carers, no guide to managing the feelings,
emotions and behaviours of our children or ourselves and no framework for
rebalancing work and home and safety.

The mental health of parents is often not considered; however, it is one of the most
important factors in parenting as it effects how we parent, how we shape our
children’s nervous system and how they learn to cope with their own mental health.

Psychologists define burnout in relation to a working environment as a state of
emotional physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged

Parental burnout is all of this too! so, if you are feeling like you are parenting
on automatic pilot, have an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion when with your
children and have lost the pleasure in your parenting you may well be suffering from
some degree of parental burn out and need to take some time to consider your own
mental health.

Parental burn out will undoubtedly affect the relationship between parents and their
children as connection and communication breaks down and through exhaustion and
personal dysregulation parents revert to reacting rather than responding to

The Emotional Road Map For Parents

To begin this journey, we first need to change the focus from the family, from the
children to you! You are important, without you everything else falls apart; you as a
parent or carer are the glue, you are the heart of your family.

Step 1 - Immediately

  • Stop and take time to consider who you are. We spend so much time running around caring for others this is not something that happens often enough. Breathing slowly and deeply can help to calm you; and you can then take your attention to your body and using your senses, connect to the space you are in. This brings you into the present moment.
  • Slow your mind down by letting go of your thoughts, let go of judgment, let go of the regrets of the past and fears for the future. Your body is always in the present moment so sit and listen to it, give your self-time to settle and reset.

Step 2 – As soon as possible

  • Acknowledge what is happening in your life – see nothing as good or bad, but as if everything just is. It is understandable that you could be feeling a wide range of emotions, and it is important to observe and acknowledge them with compassion and love.
  • Consider what you need and make plans to meet your needs. Let go of guilt or self-judgment these are not helpful, instead see this time for you as essential, and adjust your expectations to fit your reality.

Step 3– No earlier than step 2

  • Accept who you are and where you are emotionally and physically right now. Its ok to be ok and its ok and its ok not to be ok. No one is better or worse than you are, just different. When we accept ourselves without judgment, we let go of the heavy weight of resistance, guilt and shame and we can reclaim our energy and move forward with ease.

Step 4 – As soon as you are ready

  • Explore ways to help you build resilience, to heal, to be happy and to be you.Explore social support, self-care, and exercise; examine what you believe to be true and test out other possibilities. Make a new agreement with yourself to put yourself first so that you can be your best self for you and your family.
  • Choose how you want life to be and make choices that move you towards your goals. Make choices that are in line with your value base. When, how you live and who you truly are aligned, life becomes easier to navigate.

When we rediscover the person beneath the parent – we can step back into our
parental presence. Being present is a gift we can give our children; this is important
and powerful at every age.

When we follow the emotional road map and use self- compassion to help us be our best self, as if by magic, we become more present,
and as if by magic so do our children. By calming ourselves (self-regulation) we create space for our children to be calm too (co regulation).

So, the good news is you don’t have to be the #1 parent all the time just because it
says it on your coffee mug! No one signs up to parenting to burn themselves out or
lose themselves completely in everyone else’s needs.

To be a parent means more than just caring for your children and family it means finding yourself, caring for
yourself and showing and allowing your children to do the same.

Lynne Jones is a therapeutic mentor based in South Wales.
For more information on this subject contact her at lynne@lynnejones.org