Working from home while making sure your kids are in their virtual classroom while getting groceries delivered while keeping everyone safe from coronavirus is enough to burn anyone out. Two years of going through this was apparently too much for many people.
“When COVID-19 came into our lives, we were hopeful that the impact of the pandemic might only span weeks or a few months at most,” wrote Kate Gawlik, a doctor of nursing practice and associate professor of clinical nursing at Ohio State. “Of course, it didn’t. The pandemic lasted for two years, stretching the limits of parents’ physical, mental, emotional, fnancial and professional well-being. Many parents, especially working parents whose children were sheltered at home with them for more than a year, feel the experience has taxed or broken them in some way.”
Gawlik and Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, vice president for health promotion, chief wellness officer, and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry in the College of Medicine at Ohio State, were feeling the pressure, too.
The duo created a survey to assess and quantify burnout working parents feel and what exacerbates that burnout. Nearly 1,300 parents took the survey. Among their findings:
- 66% of parents reported being burned out. Moms and dads weren’t equally stressed, however. The survey found 68% of women reported being burned out, compared with 42% of men.
- Being female, the number of children living in the home, anxiety in the parent, having child(ren) with the diagnosis of either anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and parental concern that their child(ren) may have an undiagnosed mental health disorder were strongly associated with parental burnout.
- Burnout was strongly associated with depression, anxiety and increased alcohol consumption in parents, as well as the likelihood for parents to engage in punitive parenting practices.
- Parental burnout is associated with children’s internalizing, externalizing and attention behaviors.
Parents who wrote comments on the survey were unhappy, unmotivated and struggling.
As a working parent, I feel like this pandemic has broken me.
I don't enjoy being with my kids anymore. I need a break.
If you’re feeling stressed but aren’t sure if you’re “burned out,” Gawlik and Melnyk included a 10-item Working Parent Burnout Scale as a tool that can be used to help both parents and clinicians. The scale begins on page 9 of the survey’s findings and is followed by how to score it.
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