The Mental Load of ParenthoodJune 13th, 2022 by Cynthia Bruno
*Sponsored by The Village
I’m writing this blog after a 2 hour bedtime battle with my kids. In the midst of it, I decided to text our babysitter and get her booked for tomorrow night. I need some time away. Time to refresh. Time to relax. Time to just…..breathe.
But the reality is- for me- that short time away won’t “work.” And if I’m being truly honest, all the things I used to do pre-COVID that helped me feel refreshed and ready to jump back into the work of parenting, just don’t really do it for me anymore. It’s like applying a poorly fitted mask and hoping the disguise of a carefree me fools people (and myself) for just a little bit.
I think I’m tired? Or overwhelmed? Or ????
Thankfully, the experts at The Village told me what was going on with me (and I’m guessing a lot of other parents reading this post.) The Village provides mental health services for every step of the parenting journey. From trying to conceive to raising teenagers- The Village is….well, your village! (And, we sure know it takes one when it comes to raising kids.)
Owner and therapist, Becca Richards, gave me some immediate relief when she said that parents have to acknowledge the burden of parenting over the past two years. COVID caused so many of us to raise our kids without any support. Thinking back to those early days of no family help, no daycare, working and parenting at the same time …shudder. And let’s not forget that in many areas, parents are still doing that. Some schools and classrooms still shut down when there are positive cases, especially in places like daycares where the population of students is too young to be vaccinated.
Becca explained that what we’re experiencing is an allostatic load- a fancy term that refers to a cumulative burden. Becca compared it to hiking with a really heavy backpack. Once you take that backpack off for a rest, you feel super light, but put it back on and it feels even heavier and more burdensome. That helped to explain why these “breaks” that I try to take don’t really feel like breaks at all, and why sometimes it feels even more overwhelming when I jump back into mom mode. She explained that an afternoon here or there isn’t going to fix the burnout that’s been years in the making.
Honestly, when she said that … I felt even worse. Is this funk going to take years to reverse? I don’t have that kind of time. BUT…this is where the magic of services at The Village come in. When you start really working with experts on this, you can feel immediate relief. In parenting therapy you learn all about setting boundaries with work, your family, and your partner so you can more effectively say no and ask for help. And as Becca explains, once you do that even once….that super heavy backpack immediately feels a little bit lighter. Honestly, even as she was just talking to me about how things can improve …I started to feel a little bit lighter myself.
Becca imparted a lot of wisdom during our conversation, but a few things she said really hit home for me. She said that we need to treat ourselves as humans and not robots who measure ourselves based on productivity. We need to honor our limitations and have radical acceptance of our boundaries. (Repeat: Radical acceptance of our boundaries.) Like asking for help without fearing pushback, rejecting the notion that signing your kids up for soccer means you’ll make every practice and every game, and measuring our success against our own values.
So Miss, if you’re feeling like the mental load of parenthood is taking a toll, you really aren’t alone. The Village can help.
Contact The Village today to get started with therapy services.
You can reach out through text, email (email@example.com), or by calling 217-262-9975.
The Village is a virtual practice. All sessions happen over secure video and their therapists see anyone who lives in Illinois.