Avoiding Burnout  

Some parents feel terrible strain and fatigue as they try to juggle their responsibilities at home and at work. If you are starting to feel burned out, here are some ideas to help you ease the pressure.   
  • Throughout your workday, fit some relaxing moments into your routine. Close your office door for 10 minutes, shut your eyes and perform a relaxation exercise. Or during your coffee breaks, forgo coffee and doughnuts and take a short walk instead. Diversions like these can reduce stress, improve efficiency on the job, and make you feel more vitalized when you return home in the evening, thus creating a more amicable family life.  
  • If you regularly come home tired, try to develop rituals that improve your frame of mind when you arrive home. This may mean spending some time by yourself in order to put a distance between you and the day's stresses. Coming home is an important moment that should be taken seriously. Your children are eager to be with you and to share their day's experiences.  
  • Assess how you are spending your time during the day. Look for areas in which you can reduce stress. For instance, can you bring in dinner two or three nights a week? Can you hire a high school or college student to help for an hour or two in the evenings, perhaps doing the laundry or cleaning up the kitchen? If you can save a couple of hours a night this way, you will have more time to spend with your children and/or to relax or sleep.  
  • Involve the entire family in the evening responsibilities that are such a drain on your time and energy. For example, the family can work together to clean up the kitchen after dinner; with everyone's help it will get done much quicker and free up some time for you in the evening. Do the same on the weekends too: If the house needs cleaning, have everyone pitch in on Saturday morning; this will help build family cohesiveness while finishing the job faster, thus leaving more time for enjoyable family activities.  
  • Keep your expectations realistic. On certain evenings you might have to choose between going to the market and doing the laundry. Some tasks just may have to wait until the weekend.  
  • On the weekends, schedule some relaxation time for yourself. Go for a walk or go to the gym. Do some recreational reading. While family time is important and certain chores need to be done, time to unwind and recharge your own batteries is essential too.
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)

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