7 Signs of Psychological Exhaustion in Parents

Psychological exhaustion arises when you feel that your work as a mother overwhelms your resources. Find out how to identify it.
7 Signs of Psychological Exhaustion in Parents

Last update: 09 November, 2021

Being a mother is a full-time job. You have to feed and clean your children, watch over their health, take them to and from school, help them with their homework and spend quality time with them. But also, you have a home to take care of and a job to fulfill. Due to all of the above, more and more parents are suffering from psychological exhaustion. Do you want to know what it consists of? We’ll explain it to you in the article below.

Signs of psychological exhaustion in fathers and mothers

It’s been found that about 11.6% of men and 12.9% of women with children suffer from extreme exhaustion derived from the exercise of their roles.

Instead of enjoying their fatherhood or motherhood, they’re enslaved by a physically and mentally exhausting routine, which ends up affecting the whole family.

Psychological exhaustion affects all areas of a person’s life. For this reason, sooner or later the situation becomes untenable and the problem comes to light in the worst way. However, if you want to identify it in time, these are the signs you should pay attention to.

1. Sleep disturbances

You may feel exhausted and sleepy throughout the day and collapse exhausted on the couch in the very early hours.

Still, you don’t enjoy a quality rest because your sleep is fragmented and restless. Worries and to-dos crowd your mind when you’re in bed and you wake up before the alarm goes off.

A woman sitting in bed looking exhausted.

2. Excessive hunger

Lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety can lead to overeating. In particular, there’s often a need to eat unhealthy foods that are high in fat and sugar.

Hunger is a mechanism that the body starts up in the face of stress in order to have enough energy. However, when it turns into a situation that’s sustained over time, this is very detrimental.

3. Concentration difficulties

Something as simple and everyday as reading a book can seem impossible when you suffer from extreme psychological exhaustion. This is because your cognitive functions are affected and your prefrontal cortex doesn’t work properly. Therefore, you may find it difficult to follow a conversation or you may feel constant confusion or mental fog.

4. Memory problems

You forget where you left the keys, what time the appointment with your child’s tutor was, or what you had gone to buy in the supermarket. These memory problems are common when the mind is saturated and can’t process all pending issues.

5. Irritability

If lately, you find yourself yelling at your children more than you would like, you get angry about everything, and the arguments with your partner are more and more frequent, you may find yourself mentally exhausted.

Being irritable, irascible, and impatient most of the time is a sign that you need to slow down.

6. Emotional lability

Another of the clearest signs is the difficulty in regulating your emotions. Your mood seems like a roller coaster: you go from euphoria to sadness, from fear to guilt, you cry easily, and feel that your internal states are out of control.

7. Extreme tiredness and apathy

Finally, it’s very common for you to feel constantly tired, but with a type of fatigue that doesn’t subside with a nap or a good night’s sleep.

It’s an exhaustion that affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally, that you’ve dragged on for a long time, and that prevents you from performing in your day-to-day life. As a result, you don’t feel interested or motivated when it comes to any sort of activity and you only want to rest. However, you can’t do it because your mind is constantly on the move.

A mother lying on the couch looking overwhelmed.

Reduce emotional exhaustion to regain quality of life

Emotional exhaustion can affect your work performance, your social life, and your relationship with your partner. In addition, it can deteriorate the bond with your children, as it increases the risk of violent and negligent parental behaviors.

If you don’t take action on the matter, this situation can even lead to a psychological disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Your body shows you that you’re forcing the machine, that you need to slow down and take better care of yourself. And for this, you need to delegate.

Maybe you need to reorganize the assignment of tasks with your partner, ask for help from a family member, hire a professional to help you with the children or housework, or simply lower your level of self-demand. The house doesn’t always have to be perfect and nothing will happen if your children do one less extracurricular activity a week.

Children need, above all, happy parents who are capable of giving them the attention, love, and support they need. And you, as a mother, deserve to enjoy your motherhood instead of living it as a daily battle.

Therefore, if you feel that you can’t do it alone and don’t know how to channel this situation, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

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  • Roskam, I., Raes, M. E., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Exhausted parents: Development and preliminary validation of the parental burnout inventory. Frontiers in psychology8, 163.
  • Mikolajczak, M., Gross, J. J., & Roskam, I. (2019). Parental burnout: What is it, and why does it matter?. Clinical Psychological Science7(6), 1319-1329.