Parental burnout is not the ‘typical’ parenting stress. Feeling stress is ‘normal’, common and even necessary. 

Parental burnout is something else. It happens when parenting stress impedes parents to cope. When parents lack the resources needed to handle their parenting demands, they may develop parental burnout.

It is characterized by three main features: 

  • Intense exhaustion: physical, emotional, or both.

  • Feeling emotionally distant from one’s child.

  • Feeling doubtful of one’ capacity to be a good parent 

Parents feel exhausted just by thinking about their role as parents. As a result, parents gradually detach from their children. They become less and less involved and in the end their interactions are limited to logistics and functional. Consequently, parents begin to feel that they are not good parents, and their relationship with their children is damaged. 

We can all experience these symptoms at some time. But when a parent is burnout, they experience them frequently and strongly. 

What’s the difference between parental burnout and depression?

Parental burnout and depression can look quite similar, but they are different. 

Parental burnout is specific to the parenting domain. You feel exhausted when being with your kids. You don’t enjoy being with the kids. You find tough dealing with everything to do with the kids. In contrast, you are totally fine at work, you enjoy spending time with your friends, and you enjoy any hobbies you may have. 

Depression is more global. It’s all encompassing. You feel low. You feel tired. You feel uninterested across all aspects of your life.  

How many parents experience parental burnout?

The research on parental burnout is quite new. 

Studies in 42 countries show that around 5% of parents experience parental burnout. In the Western world, this figure goes up to 8%. This is about 1 parent in every classroom.

Parental burnout is more common in Europe and the US. This is probably because these countries are very individualistic and because parenting has become increasingly demanding over the last 50 years. 

Parents of neurodivergent children are more likely to experience parental burnout. 

Both mothers and fathers can experience parental burnout. 

Who is more likely to experience parental burnout?

These are the parents who are more at risk:

  • Those who aim to be perfect parents.

  • Those who have difficulties regulating their emotions and their stress.

  • Don’t have emotional or practical support from their coparent or who don’t have a tribe.

  • Those who don’t have much knowledge about how to raise their kids.

  • Those who have children with special needs.

  • Those who work part-time or are stay-at-home parents

Why does parental burnout matter? 

Parental burnout has been linked with: 

  • Depression, addiction, and sleep problems.

  • Thoughts of running away and committing suicide.

  • Child neglect and child maltreatment.

  • High levels of job turnover intention, and a decrease in job satisfaction.

  • Conflict within the couple.

  • A reduction of the quality of life and life satisfaction of the family members. 

I think I am experiencing parental burnout. What do I do?

If you are struggling, and you suspect that you may be experiencing parental burnout, I highly recommend that you see a specialist. Our REC Parenting therapists are here to support you. You just need to get in touch with me here and we will organize the support your need.  Remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your family.

Much love,


Dr Ana Aznar

Typically, women receive all the attention and medical care while pregnant. But once the baby is born…. All the attention and medical care goes to the baby, leaving the new mother more or less ignored.

Indeed, a new report just published shows that only 23% of mothers said they felt very supported by their healthcare provided during the postpartum phase. 

This is a big mistake! Women need attention during the postpartum period, also known as the fourth trimester. This 12-week period after birth brings great joy, but it’s also a very vulnerable time. 

Why? Because new mothers experience so many changes: their body changes, their emotions may be overwhelming, their relationship with their partner changes, they are not “free” anymore, they may be sleep deprived, they may feel isolated…. Basically, a new mom’s whole universe shifts. New mums need support.

It’s no wonder that 1 in 5 new mums are affected by mental health issues. The most common ones are postpartum depression and anxiety. Other women experience more severe conditions such as perinatal psychosis, PTSD, and mood disorders. 

Many women do not experience any mental health issues but need support getting used to their new reality. Having a child is a deeply transformative experience. 

One common issue that new mothers experience are infant-harm related thoughts. What are these? They are thoughts of unintentionally or intentionally harming the baby. They may come in form of:

  • thoughts (e.g., “My baby might die”)

  • impulses (e.g., having the urge to shake or throw the baby”)

  • images (e.g., a mental picture of the baby’s head hitting the wall)

These thoughts are incredibly common among new mothers. It is estimated that nearly all new mothers have them! Yet, we don’t discuss them even though they make us feel horribly uncomfortable, guilty, and ashamed. 

Newborn in mothers' hands. Baby care. Mother and baby

Fathers can also have these thoughts. There is not a lot of research on this, but it is estimated that 2/3 of dads experience them. 

It is very important to note that having these thoughts does not usually mean that these mothers or fathers represent a risk to the baby. The fact that they feel horrified when having these thoughts, is a strong sign that they are not going to hurt their baby. 

However, the emotions that these thoughts provoke can be very powerful and disturbing and therefore getting support is advisable. For some people, it may be enough to discuss it with a close friend or relative. Others may need professional support. 

One of our goals at REC Parenting is to support mothers’ mental health during the fourth trimester. This is why we have a masterclass (you can also listen as a podcast) with Dr Caroline Boyd talking about infant-harm related thoughts. Caroline is a renowned clinical psychologist, and the leading expert in this field. Her masterclass is incredibly informative, empathetic, and full of applicable tips.

If you are expecting a baby or recently had a baby, I really encourage you to watch or listen to this masterclass. If you know anyone in this situation, do let them know about it. I promise that you won’t regret it.

To get access to this masterclass, you need to subscribe to REC Parenting. Your subscription will gives you access to our:

  • 1-2-1 support 

  • library of masterclasses 

  • blog and toolkits

  • special events

The good news is that to celebrate our partnership with Family Education, we are offering a 20% discount on our Crawling, Walking, and Running Plans. The discount code is: FAMILY EDUCATION.  

Come and join us! Parenting is the most important job you will ever do, why not do it from a place of research and support?

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with me:

I would love to hear from you. And remember to submit here any questions you may have about anything parenting. We will reply to them in next week’s Q&A email. 



Dr Ana Aznar

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