“At work, you think of the children you have left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent.” Golda Meir
On any given day of the week do you feel like you are in a) battle zone, b) the twilight zone, c) the Crazy zone, or d) all the above?
Do you have so many things coming at you that you feel like a walking dart board?
Does your mind often feel scattered and asking “Is this what I signed up for?”
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I’d take a guess you are a parent. Parenting can not only be time consuming, but exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is what I call Parent Fatigue Syndrome. Even the most seasoned parents will experience PFS from time to time. The solution is recognizing its severity and knowing what to do about it.
Mild Parent Fatigue Syndrome
For most parents, the feelings of PFS will begin on Friday afternoon, usually the drive home from work. It has been a long week, you are feeling tired. You wish you had some time to yourself. There may be some family obligations you have to attend, but you are still looking forward to spending time with your children because you know the outcome will be relaxing and refreshing.
What to do: Have some “down time” with your family. Order pizza and rent a movie. Play some games. Chances are your family needs some down time also.
Moderate Parent Fatigue Syndrome
Parents experiencing moderate symptoms will have more intense feelings of frustration or even anxiety. Sometimes these feelings may start earlier in the week. After work you just want to go home, eat and have some alone time. You can still muster up some time to spend with your children, but it can feel like a chore. You may begin to find other reasons not to be at home: working late, spending more time on hobbies or holing up in your room watching TV.
What to do: Begin to carve out some alone time for yourself. Communicate to your spouse about your feelings. He/she may not even be aware that you are experiencing these feelings. Change your perspective: At lunch time, write down everything you like about each of your children. Then when you get home, tell them your feelings.
Severe Parent Fatigue Syndrome
Parents with severe symptoms of PFS will have been experiencing stronger emotions for a greater period of time. Their feelings of frustration have grown into resentment, depression or even apathy. They have lost their joy of spending time with their children. Or they may also say things they don’t mean at the expense of their children.
What to do: If you are experiencing these symptoms, then I encourage you to find a professional counselor to talk to about these feelings. If left unchecked, it may have negative consequences to the relationship you have with your children and other family relationships.
Parent Fatigue Syndrome is common to every parent. Yet, the important thing is to respond to our feelings so that our parenting relationship remains intact, and is fun.