During the pandemic, “burnout” became a trendy buzzword getting thrown around social media, blogs, and moms groups. But what is the actual medical definition of burnout and how can learning about what it is help us to move out of the never ending state of exhaustion many parents are faced with today?
Joining me to clear the confusion and offer strategies for finding balance is Board Certified Physician Assistant and the founder of Run Tell Mom, Shelley Kemmerer.
The cure to burnout is not about quick fixes or a day at the spa; we’ll talk about the personal and systemic changes that need to be implemented and prioritized in order to support an entire generation of parents faced with unreasonably high expectations and battling constant parenting guilt.
Just like a car requires gas. If you are more depleted of gas, it’s gonna take that much more to fill you back up, to get you to a place where you feel like you’re well again.
Dr. Sarah (0:16):
Burnout is a trendy buzzword these days during the pandemic, we heard it a lot, but the truth is parents had moved past exhaustion and overwhelm into burnout territory long before the word became clickbait. Joining me today to clear the confusion and offer strategies for finding real balance is Shelley Kemmerer. Shelly is a parent, a board certified physician assistant, and the founder of Run Tell Mom. The cure to burnout is not about quick fixes or day at the spa. We’re gonna be talking about the personal and systemic changes that need to be implemented and prioritized in order to support an entire generation of parents who are faced with unreasonably high expectations and who battle constant parenting guilt.
Dr. Sarah (1:04):
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
Dr. Sarah (1:37):
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the podcast today. I have a really lovely guest for us. I’m really happy to introduce you to Shelley Kemmerer. Shelley is a board certified physician assistant and founder of Run Tell Mom, which is an incredible platform. I’m really excited for you to be here today. Thanks so much for coming on.
Thank you. I’m excited for this podcast.
Dr. Sarah (02:01):
Yeah. So do you wanna share a little bit about the work that you do and how you got into it?
Sure, absolutely. So I’ll just kind of give you the run through of Run Tell Mom, and a bit of the direction that it’s going. So Run Tell Mom helps parents caregivers and healthcare professionals with live children, navigate some of the unpredictable and predictable transitions throughout parenthood. So what I do is I try to partner to fill the space beyond clinical care by offering personalized resources, either one to one with consultation, doing workshops, and sometimes even speaking for organizations to engage one’s, you know, parental experience while they’re also working, staying at home, doesn’t matter the environment. So I try to offer multiple things so I can, you know, kind of broaden the, the horizons there for people, but we offer you know, all sorts of resources. It could be household equity resources where we’re talking about, you know, let’s say you’re bringing a new baby into the household, everything changes, right? And so how do we organize or reorganize the household to be able to work with this new life transition? And for some parents it’s working with parents who may be experiencing parental burnout and either going through you know, the recovery steps on things that we can do for ourselves gathering the proper resources either for work or for the household. So that’s kind of the, the quick and dirty on that.
Dr. Sarah (03:31):
Yeah. And I know that you talk a lot about burnout and that’s a really core part of the, of the sort of curriculum that you support parents in, in understanding and getting support around and reducing it in their, in their own experience. And I think, you know, we were talking before we, we hit record, but like burnout has a it’s everywhere. The word burnout is a big buzz word right now, but actually burnout is like a very specific scientifically operationalized term, like that has a definition and his research behind it. And I think a lot of people use it as like kind of a catchall. Yes. And it it’s, it’s not really, is it?
No, it’s not, you know, it’s funny because there’s another person that I’m friends with who works in the burnout world. And we talk a lot about how it’s been glam washed. The term has been glam washed to appeal to the masses and it’s, you know, sadly the, the term burnout is a tr it’s, it’s not a trend, it’s a, a real thing. And I think a lot of the time on social media, not all the time, but a lot of the time we kind of glam wash it to make it appear as it is something else that everybody is experiencing this. Yes, people are undoubtedly experiencing stress, but is it specifically burnout? So you know, for parental burnout, there’s kind of three core elements that we think about. So there’s the physical and emotional exhaustion and that’s, as it relates to your parental role, it’s emotional distancing from one’s child or children and feeling ineffective in your parental role. So all of this stuff is due to chronic stress, right? Burnout doesn’t just appear from overnight, like you were having a rough day and now all of a sudden you’re burnt out. This is a slow smoldering thing that turns into the fire, which is burnout. And all of this is because there’s a lack of resources in comparison to the parenting demands and they’re completely mismatched. So those are the three things that if I’m speaking parenting wise, that’s what we’re, we’re dealing with.
Dr. Sarah (05:48):
Right. And that’s really interesting because I, you know, hearing you describe those exact things you know, we’ve talked to you and I a little bit about postpartum care in, you know, we did an IG live together in the past about postpartum stress and how to support parents to prevent burnout. But a lot of that, you know, feeling ineffective, feeling distanced from your child feeling sort of just overwhelmed by the amount of stress one has that can look a lot like postpartum depression or depression. And I think there’s a lot of overlap between, like, if you were to draw a Venn Diagram, you know, burnout, stress and depression, there’s a lot of overlap among those three things, but they are all different.
Yes. Yes. And I think also when we think about postpartum depression, especially in the early stage of postpartum depression, hormonally so much is changing and that can account for many things. And I think we need to consider the circumstance in which a person is living in order to kind of determine what we might be dealing with. And for me, you know, because as I mentioned before, I am not a therapist. I don’t practice therapy, but a lot of these kind of questions that people are being asked about it, like is, is there truly overlap? Can you have two of these things at once? Can you be experiencing occupational burnout and parental burnout and depression? I mean, of course, right? Like there’s, there’s different determining factors that, you know, fall more into a category of what this may or may not be. And so I think those nuances are very important, especially when we see it kind of tossed around on social media. And that always worries me because I think, I think of social media, specifically Instagram as the first step to Google. So people might see something on Instagram and it kind of spark, you know, spark some interest. And then all of a sudden they think, well, I need to look into this a bit more. I’m gonna type this into Google and see what comes up if this is actually the truth, or if I’m fact checking now. And I find that it’s not like it might seem on social media.
Dr. Sarah (08:06):
Yeah, I love the term you use of glam washing it because that’s, and I think in general, there’s a lot of things that are happening on social media that are glam washing concepts making them buzz words and, and sort of diminishing our desensitizing, our us as a collective society to what these things actually mean. But, but burnout is, it’s interesting because parents like burnout can affect, like you were saying, like occupational burnout, there are certain groups of people who are more likely to experience occupational burnout. People like, you know, doctors and PE you know, people who are doing who have occupations that are incredibly high stressed.
Dr. Sarah (08:52):
And parents are another group that experience. And I guess we don’t really call it occupational burnout, but it’s not that dissimilar, especially if you’re a stay at home parent or a working parent, cuz it’s like your second shift, it’s kind of like a part of your job. But parents are a group of people who experience kind of like disproportionately large percentages of burnout from other groups of people in the general population.
Yes. And I think even now in comparison to 40 years ago, it’s eight times more common today than it was 40 years ago.
Dr. Sarah (09:25):
Yes. And, and we’re talking about five most common groups that describe this mothers being, you know, one of them, parents of multiple children, parents with children who are, have ADHD, parents who struggle with anxiety and then parents who are concerned that their kids can be, might be undiagnosed have an undiagnosed mental health disorder. And so of course that core group, I mean, you can just go through that group and understand have a, an understanding of why that might be right. We’re thinking of constantly one is constantly doing things, whether it’s like scheduling appointments concerns about illness, safety you know, teasing there’s tons of things. And then just the category of being a mother. And, and I think about this a lot because I’ll ask questions to a community, I’ll say, do you think a stay at home parent is a working parent.
And it, it was such an interesting question because I had various answers. Right. And the majority of people said yes, and they defined why and the people who said no said, no, you get paid for work. So I said, okay, let’s define work. And if I define work right now, in fact, I’m just gonna type it in right now and look up a definition of it. And which is funny because Rihanna’s video Work comes up first before the which I love. OK. and that’s it, you know, it’s a good song. So all define, so work is to perform work or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary. Okay. To perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations. Okay. So that’s work to exert oneself physically, mentally, or mentally, especially in sustained effort for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity. So by those three definitions, a Miriam Webster, is it work? Yes. Yeah. It’s work right. Like this, this is work. And so I think the importance of asking that question is like, then what is the value of the work and why are we undervaluing it? And it, it makes much, it makes tons of sense to me. Why so many parents are truly feeling burnt out by the, those three core defining factors that we were talking about before.
Dr. Sarah (12:02):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s interesting this, these definitions of work that you’re pulling up, it’s a lot of it is this idea of like sustained energy. Repeating something, having to show up in a consistent sustained way, either physically or emotionally. There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of showing up that has to happen in parenthood. Yes. And it is, it is really draining. And I talk a lot of actually, when I’m working with parents who I have a lot of parents in my practice who are burnt out and they’re actually coming to me for mental health issues that are a result of having not addressed burnout for a really prolonged period of time.
And so I’m actually oftentimes kind of toggling between treatment treating both, but I’m like if we can’t address the, the source of the burnout, we can’t really, we can’t really reduce the depression or the anxiety because it’s, what’s propelling it. It’s, what’s fueling it. And so I talked to parents about two separate things. I first explained to parents that I have this sort of theory that we have three types of energy, not one, like we I’ll always talk about like, oh my, my tank is empty. And we can all relate to that feeling as parents. But what I try to help parents realize we have three tanks, we have emotional cognitive, we have emotional energy, we have cognitive energy and we have physical energy and we need all three and tasks that we do, whether it’s in parenthood or outside of parenthood require some combination of all three of those types of energies and sometimes in different percentages, but we don’t necessarily refuel those tanks with the same, the same way. So like, I might need to refuel my cognitive tank, my cognitive energy tank with a different, with a different method than I would to refuel my emotional energy tank. Like I might need connection to refuel my emotional energy tank. And I might need alone time to refuel my cognitive energy tank.
Yes. Makes complete sense.
Dr. Sarah (14:09):
And so understanding that we actually have these three different buckets we’ve gotta fill and we have to fill them in ways that work for us individually is kind of helpful for, cause I think parents don’t realize that they have to have some nuance to their strategy.
Yes. And it has to be, you have to be able to adapt it, right? Because you, you hit the nail on the head there. If you are thinking that let’s say you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re touched out and there’s too much going on in your home. Maybe you have a child who’s kind of clinging to you because you know, X needs need to be met. Whatever the case may be. Maybe there’s a huge life transition. They need more of that. Maybe that part of you needs to spend more time alone. Or if you’re feeling lonely, you’re feeling like you’re disconnected from a community. You need more connection. And so filling all those three tanks that takes a lot of time and energy too. Right. Because we can’t just, we can’t just like hit a attack and say, oh, I’m gonna go hang out with so, and so now, like it’s much more complicated, right?
Because we have, you know, illness that we have to take into consideration. We have travel, we have to take into consideration. We have time, which is a major one that we have to take into consideration. And so filling those three tanks. And I think how you explain that is brilliant is a, a time consuming and energy consuming to plan those things because they do take planning as well. And I think having that, understanding that these, these are nuanced and it’s not gonna look the same for everybody. That’s why, you know, I say stop with the hacks. No more hacks. We’re not doing hacks anymore. Okay. Yes. Hacks are they’re hacked. Like you, you not get anything from it as far as, you know, having sustained energy or sustained support if you’re trying to cut corners. And I think that’s really important when we think about refueling, an individual that feels depleted just like a car requires gas. If you are more depleted of gas, it’s gonna take that much more to fill you back up, to get you to a place where you feel like you’re, well, again, like you’re, you’re, you know, comfortable on your two feet.
Dr. Sarah (16:20):
Yeah. And you’re not experiencing those symptoms that you were describing of burnout. Right.
Right. And it, it doesn’t take, you know, it’s not, it’s not a bubble bath or a spa day or anything like that. Like burnout takes a lot of time to heal. Yeah. And I don’t like telling people, it takes X amount of time because I think it can startle people in hearing that. And it feels defeating already before you say, oh, well it should take 18 months to, you know, everybody’s different. And everybody’s circumstances are different. Their work environments, different, their if they’re partnered, their partnership is different. Their, their children are, are different. So I think it takes a different amount of time for everyone.
Dr. Sarah (17:00):
It does. And I think, but it also, it does what it does require is change. Like that’s why the hacks don’t work or the, or the, you know, the one liners or like a bubble bath. Like yeah, it might help in the moment, but it doesn’t make a system change. And it’s the system, whether it’s a internal family system or if it’s an external societal system, if there isn’t a change to the system, the stress will maintain itself and the burnout will continue. Yeah. and post burnout, you can have mental health fall out. Yes. So
Yes, those systemic things are so important. And I feel like those are the ones that are so quickly overlooked when we think about addressing this issue and, you know, we can talk about work environments. There’s so much on workplace wellbeing, workplace wellness. We’re gonna, you know have you fill out this survey and see how burnt out you are and then maybe we’ll address it with a gift card. Maybe we’ll address it with a day off. Like, I think mental health days are so important, but if we provide them, let’s not shame people for taking them or then, you know, pile on the additional work after they take a mental health day. And how are we supporting parents in the workforce? Like, what are we doing for them as far as giving them workplace flexibility in the event that there’s a child emergency in the event that there’s maybe a conference that you need to get to, or there’s a celebration because it shouldn’t just be about, you know, here’s an emergency, I need to be here for my child.
Yes. That’s absolutely how I feel about it in the workplace setting. Like you should have that flexibility and not feel bad about taking it. But what about the other things that cultivate a, a strong household, a strong connection, cuz don’t you think that one is going to influence the other, if you’re feeling good and supported in your job, how will you feel going home? Do you carry that stress home when it’s not flexible? And it’s, you know, it’s an uncomfortable environment where you can’t bring up these things and be forthright and say, you know what, I have a lot going on with my family. I still do want to do well within this position, but I also need your support and how can I, you know, AB obtain those resources? Are there resources that you’re able to provide those conversations, when we think about that one component of, you know, systemic change, how are we addressing those things so that we can actually help families you know, manage the unknown, which is basically every single day, right?
Dr. Sarah (19:42):
It’s true. And I think, you know, you bring up an interesting point, which is like, okay, so workplace, there are things that the workplace can do to shift the burden off of parents. But it’s not just working parents, cuz we were saying it’s like kind of non-discriminatory and that it affects parents that are staying at home as well as parents who work. And I think, you know, unfortunately our society is having a lot of difficulties supporting either
Yeah. I mean, without question it’s, you know, it, and it’s even more than that. Like when I think about it, I think about you know, families who have to send their children to daycare and it’s great for socialization. It allows parents to work, but one, how much does that cost? Right. It’s a huge cost. To how much are those daycare workers and employees being paid and how are they being supported? And then three, as far as being able to pick up your child, having that flexibility, are you limited and how does your job support you? So there’s like all these other, it has tendrils, right? Like all these things kind of have like tendrils that are just kind of interlocking with one another. And I think until we really center on some of these other issues, how will we ever expect for parents to be well or get well, if we’re not ensuring that they have you know, adequate mental health resources, accessible childcare that is safe and affordable you know, daycare workers are being paid a fair wage. They’re taking care. I mean, it’s not just taking care of our kids, it’s child development. Right. And we’re talking about a sense of belonging and connection. And so these are things that parents on the periphery are also worried about. They’re worried about the development of their, their child or children when they go to school, they’re worried about school safety. And so until we tackle some of those other things, what are we doing? But putting a bandaid over a massive systemic problem.
Dr. Sarah (21:51):
Yeah. And it’s hard because I like, I want to have listeners walk away from this episode with like something that they feel like, okay, I can do this and it’s gonna make it better.
Oh, they will.
Dr. Sarah (22:01):
And we are gonna give you that. But I also think we need much bigger. It’s not on the parent. Like, yes, it unfortunately is right now. And it’s on the parent and the people who are, who are directly supporting parents like you and me, but it should be, it feels so much bigger than all of us. It needs to be, it is on a political level. It needs to be in legislation. It needs to be, we need to be electing officials who care about this stuff and run on platforms that support women you know, Chamber of Mothers is a really incredible organization. That’s like on the ground talking to Congress that, you know, supporting either legislation or, or government people who are creating legislation that supports maternal care and, and family wealth, you know, the welfare families.
Absolutely. I mean, it’s a much bigger picture than just focusing on what we can do. There are things that we could do within our household. Right. Of course. Yeah. And we can get to those things and make it very, there are things that are attainable, right. That we can work with. But we also have to think about all of the other components that contribute to this problem. And there are many unfortunately but it takes the power of many voices to be able to make changes. And I know even just for me, I started volunteering through Moms Demand Action. And that was an uncomfortable one for me because I thought, you know, I felt kind of like a like a couch warrior, right. I would post something. I’m like, you know what, I’m not doing enough. I am definitely not doing enough.
I have two young children one’s in middle school. Another one’s going off to kindergarten, quite possibly going off to kindergarten. We’re still on the fence about that, but what, you know, what can I do as a parent to, you know, contribute as a voice in this and school safety has always been one of the things that I’ve been most interested in and, you know, you have all these parents showing up on calls and it’s amazing. And some of the stories that you hear break your heart and you know, you see these parents showing up, right? Like we went through that definition of work and all of this is work. It’s work to advocate it’s work to want to be able to have a better future for everyone’s children. And to have the respect of parents who are doing this work and not being paid for this work.
They’re being paid for their jobs. Sure. But if that is a, you know, that type of working parent, but what are we doing for the other individuals who, you know, as a stay-at-home mom, how are we helping stay at home moms? I, you know, I don’t think we’re doing enough just at all in society to, to take care of parents. And I think this is where social media can really be a buoy for some people, if we utilized it in a way that is truly beneficial instead providing these hacks or, you know, providing these you know, flawed definitions of what burnout is and what you know, the, that parental struggle is and, and how to treat it.
Dr. Sarah (25:28):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s such a conundrum cuz I feel like I, and this is why I love talking to you and other people who are in this line of work, who like, you know, I feel like so personally I can relate to this struggle because I’m in a similar situation where I’m like, I wanna support parents. How do I get to them? How do I help them know they’re not alone? How do I teach them? The things that I think they need to know in order to feel better about not just what they’re doing, but also if they want support where they can get it and how they can get it and what that looks like. Right. And that’s why I love having people like you come on this podcast and, and share these insights with parents. And we can’t do this in three, in 90 seconds.
We can’t do this in three seconds. We can’t do this, this, this kind of rich dialogue in these little soundbites. And yet we’ll have to, we’ll have to figure out a way to turn this into a quick, quick quip that parents can digest super fast and just hope that it will link them to the right resources to get them some real support. And it’s like a system we’re talking about systemic change. It’s like, how do we operate in a system where the, the way to get access to parents is also a me a mechanism that limits their ability to get information at a systemic level. And how, how do you play with that paradox as a parental advocate?
You know, I think about that too, with social media and the type of content that is produced and how quickly we have to put up the hook and how quickly we have to have a call to action and what the captions have to look like and there’s limits on captions, right? Because you get a snapshot of something and it’s supposed to take you somewhere else. I’m not just saying by link, I’m talking about like recalling a time that you felt like X or, you know, these three tips are going to completely eradicate. Y it’s just not that simple. And so how do we utilize social media in a way from a parents point of view, to be helpful. And, you know, I get kind of torn on that because I, I look this up this morning in low this podcast and just on the hashtags alone, we have burnout, which could be many things, but that accounts for 3.7 million hashtags on Instagram.
Oh my gosh. And then parenting tips is 1.9 million. So are we over tipping? And I mean that by like, are we just doing too much that it can be overwhelming for parents to feel like, okay, well this account said this, but now this other account that I love said this, so how am I supposed to get to the right place or the correct place and, and what is correct? And so I think a lot about that and like the, the type of content in the direction that I wanna take. And do I want parents to feel overwhelmed? Absolutely not. Because one of the things with parental burnout is this overwhelming sensation of being exhausted. And that too can be from like this emotional exhaustion of maybe consuming too much of this information. Yes. and or maybe seeing, you know, the, the ideal parents should be like this.
Like I call it the Pinterest parent, right? Like the, the perfect parent that has the, the gorgeous the, the lunches that are like cut out into star shapes. And some people love that and that’s great, but you know, a lot of parents don’t have the energy to do that. And so, you know, how do we get there? And I think it’s a fine balance of saying one, you acknowledge that, that it’s difficult. Right. That right now, things are very difficult for a lot of people. And people are experiencing layers of grief for themselves and also for their children and parents carry the grief of their children on their backs as well. And so we can talk about those things, but what are the things that we can do within our home? And for me, what that looks like now is doing less.
And what I mean by that is what can wait and what is urgent. And if something can wait, it will wait now. And before I felt like I had to be the parent where I needed to get things quickly done, to get them off my list. And that’ll be that, and I’m gonna do as much as I can, but at night you just collapse. You’re so tired. And so less is more and also working on the basics, right? Like sleep optimization is huge. Connection is huge. And what that connection is, is, you know, it could be community, it could be connection with your healthcare team and truly feeling like you’re heard by them. It could be connection within your school district and following up on you know, maybe like policies and procedures there that make you feel a bit more settled when you send your kids to school. So yeah, tons of things.
Dr. Sarah (30:22):
And I think that’s incredibly good strategy. And I think part of, we talk about everyone’s, strategy’s gotta look a little different. It’s gotta look a little nuanced. I think to start, it’s helpful to do a little inventory. Yes. Like write out all the things that you are doing. Right. All the things that you feel like you’re not doing that you wish could be doing, write all the things out that are stressing you out or making you anxious or scared. Yeah. Right. So in those buckets might be, I’m doing too many things. I’m, you know, taking on too many tasks, there are a bunch of things I am holding myself up to certain standards that are not realistic or appropriate. And I can actually say some of the things that I’m not doing that I feel like I should be doing is actually a product of guilt that’s artificially manufactured by social media or other things or like a fantasy we have about the quote perfect parent. Right. And then the third category of like, what is actually making you anxious or stressed, like, like you were saying, like, if it’s violence in schools or school safety or other things that make a parent stay up at night, you know, gripped with anxiety,
Dr. Sarah (31:30):
How do you get information about that in a very practical, tangible way that affects your own family and your own child? Like you send them to school, what is your school doing to help you feel safer? Those are all, I think, amazing strategies that are, they’re really accessible and don’t require systemic change because it might not coming anytime soon, unfortunately.
Right. And, and you know what, and this, I think is social media is a byproduct of this, right? Because we want parents to have easily accessible attainable resources. And so what do we do as content creators? Because aside from us creating content, right. We have work to do, and then we have a family. And so there are other things that we’re, we’re doing here other than just creating this content, but we try to do it so that it’s it’s there and it’s available, but why does that happen? Is it because parents don’t feel like they’re supported by anybody else and where they go is social media. And they say, oh, well, if I can’t get it from this office, or if I can’t get it from, you know, whatever from my government, maybe this is where I’m finding my information and I’m, I’m getting it.
And, you know, I, I think about that a lot and how social media has become so massive. And we’re trying to just fix things so quickly that we’re not thinking about the origins of where everything is started for us. Like maybe where our anxiety stems from, where when do we start this kind of burnout process? Is it, is it attached to perfectionism? Like there’s other things that we have to kind of uncover here. And I think that’s where we kind of have to balance this fine line of, you know, what are we creating for parents to actually be helpful? And to fill those three tanks. Yeah. I, instead of overdoing it and not giving them what they need and making them feel even more overwhelmed when they leave their, the feed.
Dr. Sarah (33:30):
Right. And I toy with the same conundrum all the time, which is why I feel like while I create the content, I try to make sure that I’m really clear with parents that this is content. This is social media content. Like, you gotta be an educated, I, I say this all the time, you have to be an educated consumer of parenting content. You have to know not just what to listen to, but when to turn it off, when to stop listening, when to say, I’ve had enough, I’ve gotta process, I’ve gotten something I’ve learned something time to go away and think about it. Like marinate on it, integrated into my actual life rather than continue to scroll and then lose it. Like I’ve got the thing yeah. That I want to remember because four more really entertaining reel just popped up. Yes. like setting timers for ourselves and getting off of it a little bit.
Yeah. And so, and so often, I mean, we have that little bookmark tab that you’ll bookmark it. How often are you truly going back and looking at every single little thing, you could have 2000 things bookmarked. Right. And you’re saying, oh, well, this was really important. I wanna say this for myself. I’m I, I will look at this later, but you know, I think for a lot of parents are just saying I’m seeing way too much. And it feels like a lot of it’s redundant. I ask people that sometimes you know, is, does the content that you’re consuming feel redundant and why do we think that is, you know, we see a lot of trends on social media. We see like use this trending music that’s popular right now, or use, you know, like this type of hook and that’s popular right now. And this will go viral.
You know, why, why do we do the things that we do? I don’t know. I get, I get a little, you know, abstract with it while I think about it, because I do really, I have my best intentions in mind when I think about helping people that may not see themselves as a reflection of what is currently on their feed, or they feel like maybe they relate a little bit, but need you know, something else in the vein of that, that they don’t know where to start. They don’t know where to look just to be a little bit more like do that self inventory, right? Like you mentioned, and, and that can help you kind of sort things out and what you should be seeing or unfollowing people that, you know, make you feel like your parenting game is completely off and you leave it. And you’re thinking I never wanna go on social media again, because I’m gonna hear the same things over and over, making me feel bad about my parenting style or making a mistake. That’s another thing like parents make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Even your, like your absolute favorite content creator may have 4 million followers. And they’re a parenting expert. Guess what? They’re making mistakes too. Even if they’re real, doesn’t look like it.
Dr. Sarah (36:24):
They are. And if you are following people who say they are parenting supporters, who aren’t talking about the mistakes, they’re also making, if they’re also parents, like that should be a pretty big red flag to you, right? Like protectionism and parenting should not be what we’re promoting. Yes. Reality and humanness and parenting and repair and learning, and be striving to be better, but never, ever expecting perfection. That’s I think at the core of healthy content and I think too, like getting, being willing to go find a couple people that speak your language and be willing to kind of move your educational source off of the social media then. So like you offer courses and ways to work with you individually. I offer courses, I offer other ways to work with me to, to learn about the things that I think parents need to know, whether it’s, you know through therapy or through courses or through other forms of connecting with me.
I do talks all the time with, you know, in small, small sized things. And, you know, sometimes it’s like, if you find your people, if you’re on social media, you’re looking for parenting support. Find people that speak to you, follow that support offline, and then use social social media for other ways of connecting. That may be less like, like stop trying to, to keep throwing your hook in the line, looking for a different parenting tip. Once you’ve found a source of parenting information that feels really aligned with you, and it’s not, it doesn’t have to be me and it doesn’t have to be you, it can be anyone that speaks to you. Absolutely. But like, be willing to just disengage from the noise sometime.
Yeah. And I know for, there was a period of time where it was like, so performative for me, where I felt like I had to put out reels because that was what was recommended, you know? Oh, you get further reach if you put out reals. Yeah. I understand that. And sometimes that’s, you know, that’s taxing too, but it’s not only that, like, how do you summarize something that’s so important in 10 seconds it’s really hard to do. And what is that doing for one’s attention span? And so when we think about, you know, know parents that might be going through it, right, and they’re struggling, let’s say they do have burnout. Like by those three core defining things, what is a 10, second reel going to do for them, maybe for the rest of their life? Hopefully it gives them something. If it’s, you know, miraculously done in 10 seconds and you just cram so much content, but for the most part, you know, it, it’s, it’s hard to talk about these complex topics in this short amount of time.
And if we are providing something, whether it’s a single resource or a community to connect with, make like humanize yourself, right. You’re if you’re a parent and you’re working in this field in parental advocacy and wellbeing say that, you know, you make mistakes and parenting perfectionism is a risk factor for burnout, you know, perfectionism is. And so, you know, be really self-compassionate and that the next time you can change your approach with your child, maybe, maybe you got really frustrated and you know, you felt like you handled something in a way that you shouldn’t have have a little bit of self-compassion. You are under a lot of stress and it’s been for a sustained period of time. Yeah. And we, we have to understand that that is just a reality of parenthood is that we will all make mistakes, but that repair that you were talking about and having these strategies that are more attainable and kind of digestible that aren’t just gonna completely change things overnight. Like we are all work in progress, have compassion and you know, allow yourself to, to make these mistakes without saying you’re the worst parent because yeah, we all are. We all are riding in that same water.
Dr. Sarah (40:25):
And I think I’m curious, like if you had one, one key takeaway for parents who are listening right now about how they what’s like a tangible strategy beyond what we’ve already talked about, that they can kind of engage in right now today or within the next week that would help them materially shift some of the factors that lead to burnout or maintain it.
Well, I think, you know, you mentioned a really good one, which is self inventory, and I think that’s something that everybody can kind of do is if you maybe like, for me the night before I will write down everything that I would like to do the next day, or like do a, you know, a skeletal prep for the week. Right. And I’ll fill things in kind of gradually, but I’ll always know what is urgent that needs absolutely needs to be done. And most things aren’t urgent. Right. So when you look at it from like a healthcare perspective, I think about triaging, right? The most important to least important, what can wait. And so within this list of whatever you do, if you’re just like jotting everything down and you’re like, wow, it looks like a really busy day. Where is that hour within your schedule that you will somehow, whether you block out, you know, 20 minutes throughout the day or whatever the case may be, you have got to have some self protected time that is just for you. And it’s, you know, without all of the, you know, commotion with whether it’s like with your, your paid job with its, with your job within your ch like with your children, how are you taking care of yourself within each day? And so I do that kind of self inventory of what is it gonna look like for me today to have that hour of time that I am investing in myself that even if I broke that into, you know, 20 minutes here and 40 minutes here, whatever the case may be that’s for me.
Dr. Sarah (42:25):
Yeah. And that’s, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bubble bath, but it could be. But I think maybe to piggyback off of this idea, if you’re creating this list for your week, at another moment when you have some bandwidth to do some self reflecting on like what fills and drains each of my three tanks. Yeah. Because then you have a little crib sheet. Right? Okay. I’m blocking out an hour of my week in some incremental amount my day or my week. And then I have a crib sheet of like, I have these like five things. I know that fills my energy, my physical energy tank. I’ve got these five things that I know fills my cognitive energy tank. I’ve got these things that fill my emotional energy tank. And so that when I’m building out this space for myself, I actually am gonna be mindful about what goes in that space and make sure that it fits my needs in that moment. And it’s gonna move, right. Yeah. Some days we’re gonna be more cognitively drained. Some days we’re gonna be more emotionally drained. Some days we’re gonna be more physically drained. So we need to kind of be able to be flexible. But I love that idea of actually putting it on your calendar, your to-do list, like make this space for yourself.
Yeah. Maybe it’s just that simple of having like the, the cognitive space, the emotional space and the physical space, all in that same day of your calendar. Right. So you can pick from those three, if you’re kind of looking at those and thinking like, where am I feeling a little bit depleted? Ah, well I know cognitively, if I’m feeling X, then I can do Y for myself. If that means taking a walk within that little box that I’ve drawn, I’m gonna take a walk or if I’m feeling physically drained, this is when I know that I have to rest in some way. That means I am not getting up and running around my house, whatever the case may. Yeah. But those, you can have that within your daily calendar and saying, these three will always be energy tanks that are gonna be pulled from. So what kind of percentage am I looking at here that I can, you know, easily, like make adaptable so that it applies to that day.
Dr. Sarah (44:27):
And to give ourselves permission to do that? Cuz I think a lot of times, like you said, we’re so busy, that’s the thing that gets crossed off the list when we’re like, that’s not a priority but it’s like, we have to flip our way of looking at it. That’s the top of the priority. We can’t do all these other things if we’re not making those a priority. So yeah. We have to give ourselves permission to do these things. Not feel like we’re giving we’re, you know, not feel guilty that we’re taking up that space for ourselves because that’s really what fuels everything else.
Right. And that’s why prevention is so important. I think of burnout prevention being a form of family planning. I’ve mentioned that before and I really stand by that. We don’t talk about burnout prevention when we’re about to have a child, right. That’s not something that we’re really talking about, but now we’re talking about it. We’re talking about it while we have toddlers. We’re talking about while we have teenagers, we’re talking about it while we have kids who are going off to college, but why not start preventatively and getting some of these things in place while, you know, if you know, you’re expecting, start working on these things. What about community? What about like, you know, the self care, which I look at more as self investment and having different layers of it and what that looks like layers of, you know, does it have to be more intense that I focus on having more rest time you know, work related stuff. So all of this stuff is truly like a form of prevention if we’re practicing this. So
Dr. Sarah (45:49):
Yes, a hundred percent. Well, I’m so grateful for you coming on and sharing all this with us today. People wanna get a hold of you, find out more about your work, connect with you, where can they find you?
So for right now at runtellmom.com. I am in the midst of working on a massive rebrand where I’m thinking about exactly where I wanna take my platform from here. So I feel like people wanna move on from burnout. And I think it’s time to heal now. So we need to find more community connection and proactive ways to make that happen. And so I’m in the midst of working on that and I’ll have more details on that soon, but right now you could find me on instagram @runtellmom or runtellmom.com.
Dr. Sarah (46:30):
Amazing. And thank you so much for coming on. We’ll see you soon. I’m sure.,
Thank you Sarah. It was a pleasure. I love it. Thanks.
Dr. Sarah (46:42):
In this episode you heard me talk about our three energy tanks, cognitive, emotional, and physical. Understanding the need to refuel all of those tanks for us and our kids can help prevent burnout and move us past cliche, self care strategies like bubble baths and facials into true self care like quality time with loved ones, fresh air and proper nutrition.
To help you get started I’ve created a simple weekly calendar. So you can be intentional about filling up your tank. Plus I’ve created a kid version to help you teach your child how they can help themselves relax and refuel in ways that actually benefit their development and mental health. If you want a copy of my Weekly Banish Burnout and Banish Burnout Kid Edition Calendars, all you have to do is rate and review this podcast on Apple Podcast or wherever you stream it. Send me a screenshot of your review to email@example.com and I’ll send the calendars straight to your inbox. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to read your reviews and don’t be a stranger.
Want to get more from Dr. Sarah Bren?
✨ Follow Dr. Sarah on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drsarahbren/
✨ Subscribe to the weekly newsletter: https://drsarahbren.com/join-newsletter
✨ And check out her website for more free parenting resources: https://drsarahbren.com/resources