A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Are you reading this article from bed? Are you hiding there while your children are flinging cereal and milk around your kitchen? You might be experiencing parental burnout.


That’s one of the findings of a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Isabelle Roskam, Marie-Emilie Raes, and Moira Mikolajczak, researchers at Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain, asked over 1,700 parents to answer how frequently they agreed with statements like “I feel tired when I get up in the morning and have to face another day with my children” and “I feel emotionally drained by my parenting role.” The researchers estimate the parental burnout rate to be between two and 12 percent of all parents.

FEATURED VIDEO

This finding has been reported in a number of alarm-raising articles, like this one in New York Magazine that reported the rate of parental burnout in a discussion of how parents are more overburdened than ever.

But such an interpretation of the authors’ results may not be warranted. The researchers’ findings should make most parents feel better – not worse – about their parenting. In fact, the findings might give you license to hide under the covers a little longer.

Take the quiz at the bottom of the page to find out if you are suffering from parental burnout. 

What is “parental burnout?”

The Frontiers in Psychology paper is newsworthy not because it identifies a specific parental burnout rate, but because it defines “parental burnout” as a distinct condition. The study opens with the question: “Can parents burn out?” The authors wanted to determine whether or not parental burnout was a phenomenon that could be isolated and defined.

The study’s authors based their work on the already well-documented phenomenon of workplace burnout. That type of burnout is not simply being tired at work or lacking satisfaction in a job. Workplace burnout refers to three specific factors: exhaustion, inefficacy, and depersonalization.

The authors offer the example of a nurse. Up until recently, she has been an exemplary employee. Then a coworker goes on maternity leave, which increases her hours and her workload. She becomes exhausted. She only manages to do the bare minimum required of her. She comes to see her patients as “rooms” instead of “humans.”

Parents, the authors claim, are susceptible to a similar type of burnout. As in the workplace, overburdened parents get exhausted. They go from pinning D-I-Y scented play dough recipes to just making sure the kids get a bath once a week. The study’s authors conclude that parental burnout includes exhaustion and inefficacy.

But what about depersonalization? Although they may joke about their children being demon-spawn or little monsters, parents are unlikely to stop seeing their children as human. The study authors suggest substituting “emotional distancing” for depersonalization in the definition of parental burnout.

The parental burnout inventory

This study cannot be used to generalize the current parental burnout rate either in Belgium, where the research was conducted, or in any other country. Because the study is isolating one point in time, it’s not possible to conclude that parents today are any more or less burned out than parents of other generations.

But what the study did do was provide a tool for identifying parental burnout: a 22-question “Parental Burnout Inventory,” or PBI. The PBI is separated into three sections: personal accomplishment, emotional exhaustion, and emotional distancing. The researchers asked parents to answer how frequently they agreed with each of 22 statements, from zero (never) to six (daily). Then they totaled the answers for each participant’s responses to give a total burnout score.

The researchers identified the burnout cutoff at 88 points, which is what would happen if a parent gave a response of four (“a few times a week”) to each of the PBI statements.

Is that burnout? Or just parenting?

Curious about how the researchers measured parental burnout, I took the PBI, answering each of the questions and totaling my score.

When I started in on the Parental Accomplishment section, I felt reasonably confident about my responses.

“I am easily able to understand what my children feel.” Well yeah. I know that last week, for example, when my son started screaming it was because he put the salt on the counter and I pushed it to the back of the counter and he didn’t want me to push it to the back of the counter, he wanted me to pick him up so that he could push it to the back of the counter.

“I look after my children’s problems very effectively.” I picked him up to solve the salt problem, right? And he fell asleep on me almost immediately afterward, so that’s two problems solved in five minutes.

Do “I feel I have a positive influence on my child”? Yes, often. Am I “easily able to create a relaxed atmosphere?” Well, as relaxed as it can be when the salt’s not put away.

But then there was “I accomplish many worthwhile things as a parent.” I scrawled a four as I noticed my son was still wearing yesterday’s pajamas.

I finished the “Parental Accomplishment” section of the questionnaire feeling, well, less than accomplished.

The “Emotional Exhaustion” section wasn’t reassuring. Do “I feel emotionally drained by my parental role?” Daily. Am I “at the end of my patience at the end of a day with my children?” At least a few times a week. Do I “feel tired when I get up in the morning and have to face another day with my children?” It’s unfathomable to me how any parent could not feel emotional exhaustion at being a parent.

Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t run the numbers mid-quiz, my mental tally seemed on pace to hit that 88-point cutoff for parental burnout. But then came the “Emotional Distancing” questions.

Do I “sometimes feel like taking care of my children on autopilot?” Often. Do I occasionally “not really listen to what my children tell me”? Yes, especially if it’s yet another narration of the Thomas the Tank Engine episode he watched three weeks ago.

But can I “no longer show my children how much I love them”? I tell my son that I love him – and mean it – every day. Am I “less and less involved in the upbringing of my children”? Almost nothing brings me as much joy as watching my son learn something new.

Thanks to low numbers in the emotional distancing section, my score was 66 points, which placed me well below the “high parental burnout” cutoff of 88.

The PBI is an imperfect instrument. The authors do not, for example, provide the specific numerical cutoffs for what they call “low burnout” or “average burnout” categories. But the PBI did help this parent see past a particularly rough week/month and recognize that yes, I’m still doing okay at this parenting thing. Am I emotionally exhausted? Exhausted doesn’t seem a big enough term. Am I feeling accomplished about my parenting lately? Rarely, except for my handling of seasoning-based stressors. But am I burned out? No, because I’m still emotionally attached to my little monster – er, human.

Two out of three ain’t bad

The researchers indicate that, in the case of workplace burnout, exhaustion is the “core dimension of burnout.” Does the same hold true for parental burnout? It seems that exhaustion is the core dimension of parenting, not parenting burnout. In the discussion of their results, the authors suggest that “people can probably ‘bear’ more in the parental context before feeling exhausted than in the professional context.”

Likewise, it appears that a low sense of parental accomplishment is part of the territory for parents who look around their messy living rooms in dismay.

This study cannot confidently conclude that the burnout rate is two percent, or 12 percent, or that burnout even exists. Frontiers in Psychology is a relatively new journal and has battled some controversy over the quality of its research. But even if the article itself raises some red flags, it can help parents reevaluate what they’ve come to think as burnout.

It may be empowering to recognize that your exhaustion, low sense of accomplishment, and even some emotional distancing from your children do not constitute “burnout.” They just constitute “parent.”

Take the Parental Burnout Inventory

Tabulating your score on the Parental Burnout Inventory isn’t as simple as asking BuzzFeed Which Disney Princess Are You? Because some of the statements are phrased negatively and some positively, an answer of “6” on one statement and an answer of “0” on another could be equivalent responses.

You can review the author’s original PBI statements, or you can check out the edited version below to make it easier to find our your own PBI score. All of the questions in the Emotional Exhaustion and Emotional Distancing sections are taken directly from the PBI. The questions in the Parental Accomplishment have been reworded as negatives to match the format of the statements from the other two sections.

Quiz: How burned out of a parent are you?

[WpProQuiz 1]

Quiz Results

22 – 44 points You are unnervingly relaxed.

Are you sure you are a parent? If so, please do the world a great service and write the next bestselling guide to stress-free parenting.

45 – 109 points You are experiencing low-to-average parenting burnout.

Others might just call this feeling “parenting.” When you feel like you’re not measuring up to the Pinterest-worthy parent next door, remember that you’re doing just fine.

110 – 154 points You may be experiencing high parenting burnout.

Of course, if you are on the low end of this range, you might just be having a terrible week. If you are on the high end of this range, it means you answered “a few times a week” or “every day” to many or all of the statements in the PBI. In either case, it may help to evaluate your responsibilities and see where you can back off a little bit. Can you take steps to limit your emotional exhaustion? Can you focus on parenting tasks that give you a greater sense of accomplishment? If you’re unsure where to begin, here are 10 ways to take a mental break while also making room for quality time with your kids.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 21, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

walmart-best-baby-carseat

When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

SHOP

Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

SHOP

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

SHOP

Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

SHOP

This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

If I ever want to look alive before dropping my son off to school, there are two things I must put on before leaving the house: eyeliner and mascara. When using eyeliner, I typically use black liner on my top lid, a slightly lighter brown for my bottom lid, and then a nude liner for my water line. It works every time.

My mascara routine is a bit different. Because my natural lashes are thin and not the longest, I always opt for the darkest black I can find, and one that's lengthening and volumizing. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara. The new mascara is developed in partnership with Drybar (the blow dry bar that specializes in just blowouts) and promises to deliver bold and voluminous lashes all day long. I was sold.

Could this really be the blowout my lashes have been waiting for? It turns out, it was much better than most volumizing formulas I've tried.

For starters, the wand is a great size—it's not too big or small, and it's easy to grip—just like my favorite Drybar round brush. As for the formula, it's super light and infused with biotin which helps lashes look stronger and healthier. I also love that it's buildable, and I didn't notice any clumps or flakes between coats.

The real test is that my lashes still looked great at dinnertime. I didn't have smudges or the dreaded raccoon eyes I always get after a long day at work. Surprisingly, the mascara actually stayed in place. To be fair, I haven't compared them with lash-extensions (which are my new go-to since having baby number two), but I'm sure it will hold up nicely.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of length and fullness this mascara delivered. Indeed, this is the eyelash blowout my lashes have been waiting for. While it won't give you a few extra hours in bed, you'll at least look a little more awake, mama.

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara
SHOP

Here's how I apply IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara:

  1. Starting as close to lash line as possible (and looking down), align the brush against your top lashes. Gradually turn upwards, then wiggle the wand back and forth up and down your eyelashes.
  2. Repeat, if needed. Tip: Be sure to allow the mascara to dry between each coat.
  3. Using the same technique, apply mascara to your bottom lashes, brushing the wand down your eyelashes.
Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Life

Having children isn't always as easy as it looks on Instagram. There's so much more to motherhood than serene baby snuggles and matching outfits. But there's a reason we've fallen so deeply in love with motherhood: It's the most beautiful, chaotic ride.

Every single day, we sit back and wonder how something so hard can feel so rewarding. And Eva Mendes just managed to nail the reality of that with one quote.

Eva, who is a mama to daughters Esmerelda and Amada with Ryan Gosling, got real about the messy magic of motherhood in a recent interview.

"It's so fun and beautiful and maddening," the actress tells Access Daily. "It's so hard, of course. But it's like that feeling of…you end your day, you put them to bed and Ryan and I kind of look at each other like, 'We did it, we did it. We came out relatively unscathed.'"

FEATURED VIDEO

Eva Mendes Admits Parenting Two Girls With Ryan Gosling Is 'Fun, Beautiful And Maddening' www.youtube.com


And just like that, moms all over the world feel seen. We've all been there: Struggling to get through the day (which, for the record is often every bit as fun as it is challenging), only to put those babies to sleep and collapse on the couch in sheer exhaustion. But, after you've caught your breath, you realize just how strong and capable you really are.

One thing Eva learned the hard way? That sleep regressions are very, very real...and they don't just come to an end after your baby's first few months. "I guess they go through a sleep regression, which nobody told me about until I looked it up," she says "I was like, 'Why isn't my 3-year-old sleeping?'"

But, at the end of the day, Eva loves her life as a mom—and the fact that she took a break from her Hollywood career to devote her days to raising her girls. "I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to be home with them," she says.

Thank you for keeping it real, Eva! Momming isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.

You might also like:

News

My labor and delivery was short and sweet. I started feeling contractions on Monday morning and by Tuesday night at 8:56 pm my handsome baby boy was born. Only 30 minutes of pushing. Afterward, I was still out of it, to be honest. I held him and did some skin to skin and handed him off to my husband, my mother held him next.

When he was in my mother's arms, I knew he was safe. I started to drift off, the epidural had me feeling drowsy and I had used up all my strength to push this 7 lb baby out. My son's eyes were open and then I guess he went to sleep too. My mother swayed him back and forth. The nurses were in and out, cleaning me up and checking in on us.

FEATURED VIDEO

When yet another nurse came in, my mom said to her, "He wasn't latching because he wanted to sleep."

The nurse yelled, "He's not sleeping!"

The next 25 minutes happened in slow motion for me.

After the nurse said these words, she flung my son onto the little baby bed. I looked over and he looked a little blue. Then I heard the loud words of CODE PINK. In matters of seconds about 30 nursing staff descended into my room and crowded around my baby.

I couldn't even see what was happening. I tried to get out the bed but they wouldn't let me and after a couple of failed attempts one of the nurses look at me and said, "He's fine, he's breathing now."

Breathing now? He wasn't breathing before? Again, I tried to push my way to my baby, but once again I was told to not move. They had just performed CPR on my 30-minute old newborn and I couldn't understand what was happening even after a pediatrician tried to explain it to me.

I just started crying. He was fine in my stomach for 39 weeks and 6 days and now I bring him into this world and his heart nearly stops?

I was told he needed to go to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was confused, as I thought the NICU was only for preemies and my son was full term.

After what felt like an eternity we were finally allowed to see our son. My husband wheeled me there and we saw him in the corner alone. I saw the incubator and the wires, he's all bundled up.

The nurse explained all the beeping and showed me the heart rate monitor. He's doing fine. We go over the feeding schedule. I'm exhausted still. I stay with him until about 1 or 2 am. They all suggest I get some sleep. There's no bed in the NICU, so I head back to my room.

The next day was better, he doesn't have to be in the incubator anymore, but the wires remain. By that night or early the next morning, the wires in his nose come out and I try feeding him. I try pumping. It was painful.

He gets his first bath and he loves it. The nurse shampoos his hair (he had a lot!) and he seems so soothed. The nurse explains that because he's full term he doesn't need the same type of support in the NICU. She tells me my baby's strong and he'll be fine.

I look around. I see the other babies, the other moms. They could be there for weeks. And unlike me, the moms have to go home—without their baby.

Friday comes and by now he's done all his tests, blood work came back normal, all tubes have been removed and I get it. I get my going-home package. Finally. I get my instructions on doctor follow-ups and we finally get to go home.

You might also like:

Life

There have been a lot of iconic entertainment magazine covers featuring pregnant women over the years. Who can forget Demi Moore's bare baby bump on Vanity Fair or Britney Spears' similar nude pose on Harper's Bazaar?

Pregnant women on a magazine covers is nothing new, but a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a business magazine, that's a first and it happened this week.

Inc. just put The Wing's CEO Audrey Gelman on the cover and this is a historic moment in publishing and business.

As Gelman told Today this week, "You can't be what you can't see, so I think it's so important for women to see that it's possible to run a fast-growing business and also to start a family."

FEATURED VIDEO

👏👏👏

She continued: "It's so important to sort of burst that bubble and to have new images of women who are thriving and working professionally while balancing motherhood … My hope is that women see this and again feel the confidence to take greater professional risks while also not shelving their dreams of becoming a mother and starting a family."

The Wing started in 2016 as a co-working space for women and has grown rapidly. As Inc. reports, The Wing has eight locations in the U.S. with plans for more American and international locations by 2020.

Putting Gelman on the cover was an important move by Inc. and Gelman's honesty about her early pregnancy panic ("I can't be pregnant. I have so much to do." she recalls thinking after her pregnancy test) should be applauded.

Gelman says pregnancy made her slow down physically, and that it was actually good for her company: "I had this realization: The way to make my team and my employees feel proud to work for me and for the company was actually not to pretend to be superhuman or totally unaffected by pregnancy."

We need this. We need CEOs to admit that they are human so that corporate leadership can see employees as humans, too. Humans need things like family leave and flexibility, especially when they start raising little humans.

There are a lot of iconic covers featuring pregnant women, but this one is different. She's wearing clothes and she's changing work culture.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.