6 Ways to Cope With Parent Burnout When You Co-Parent

By Malcolm Baltar | May 7, 2021

If you are feeling on the edge of burnout, you are far from alone. The recent pandemic events left many parents with a sudden additional workload, and shouldering the burden was not easy — you deserve a medal. 

However, life often gives too few rewards, leaving you to find ways to get what you need to thrive. Perpetually feeling overwhelmed can impact your judgment and overall joy in parenting. Here are six ways to cope with parent burnout when you co-parent. 

1. Open the Communication Channels

You might not have a life partner anymore, but you may still have one when it comes to childrearing. However, if communication failures contributed to the dissolution of your relationship with your co-parent, you might have little idea how the other one feels. Likewise, they may have no clue that you are overwhelmed until you explode in exhaustion and echo the arguments that led to the split in the first place.

As long as your relationship wasn’t abusive, why not set a coffee date to connect and talk about recent changes. For example, if you were one of the many women who lost their job during the pandemic when the reality of juggling a career and homeschool teaching proved too much, discuss changing child support needs when you both feel calm and receptive. 

Try to work together to establish a plan that works for both your changing realities. Perhaps they can afford more financial support, but their time is at a premium — can you help by taking one of “their” weekends? 

2. Cultivate an Understanding Support Network

Being a single parent is often lonely work. You need a support network who can laugh with you about the unique challenges and uplift you when you struggle. 

Fortunately, your new network may be no further away than your fingertips. You can find online support groups for single parents that you can join from your living room. 

If you crave in-person contact the most, you can still begin your search online. Groups like Meetup and Nextdoor help you connect with others in your local community to do things like start a walking club or community garden with fellow single parents. 

3. Develop Relaxing Hobbies 

As much as you love your children, devoting your attention to them 24/7 is a surefire recipe for parent burnout. One of the best coping strategies is cultivating a relaxing hobby that you can turn to when things become overwhelming. 

It’s okay to sometimes share your joy with your little one, but keep part of your escape private. For example, if you take up hiking, you might enjoy Saturday outings with your kid at a nearby nature center. However, when you set out to tackle a tougher trail, hire a sitter so that you can enjoy the wilderness solo or with another adult. 

4. Pool Your Resources

You read a tabloid headline about a woman getting accidentally locked in her trunk, and all you can think is, “Well, at least she had quiet for a few hours.” If you are coping with severe parent burnout, a getaway can restore your spirit — but many single parents don’t have much extra cash for spontaneous trips to Paris. 

If your co-parent won’t cooperate with your requests to take the children long enough to give you a break, get creative. Look around your house — do you have old clothing and toys that you could sell for some sitter cash? Could you babysit a friend’s child for extra money when you are watching yours, anyway — or arrange to swap the favor and help her as well? 

5. Get Creative

When taking a break is impossible, you have to find other ways to ease your parent burnout. One way to do so is by setting aside daily time for self-care. 

This suggestion need not involve money. A vigorous 30-minute workout can release endorphins that improve your mood and leave you with more energy for parenting. Indulging in a bubble bath while your baby naps can reset your mental state for the rest of the day. 

6. Locate Qualified Help 

Spending 24/7 with your little one will lead to parent burnout. If your co-parent has little-to-no routine involvement with the kids, you owe it to yourself to find quality help. 

When hiring a sitter, treat it like a job by holding an interview and contacting the babysitter’s references. Start with short excursions away until you establish sufficient trust, finally to take a whole day to yourself. 

Cope With Parent Burnout When You Co-Parent With These 6 Tips 

You need to cope with parent burnout when you co-parent, or the poor judgment resulting from your exhaustion could lead to trouble. Use these six tips to give yourself the break you deserve.

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