Working Parent Burnout

Burned out by pandemic parenting? You’re not alone

A new report released in April 2022 by The Ohio State University Office of the Chief Wellness Officer and College of Nursing reveals the level of burnout among working parents during the COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse consequences of that burnout for both themselves and their children.

Working parents with children under the age of 18 living with them self-selected to participate in the survey. Among the key findings:

  • Sixty-six percent (66%) of working parents responding met the criteria for burnout. Being female, the number of children living in the home, anxiety in the parent, having children with either diagnosed anxiety or ADHD and parental concern that their children may have an undiagnosed mental health disorder show the strongest associations with working parental burnout.
  • Burnout is associated with depression, anxiety and increased alcohol consumption in working parents, as well as the likelihood for parents to be irritable, get easily angered with their children and engage in punitive parenting practices (i.e. yelling, insulting/criticizing, cursing, spanking).
  • According to parents’ self-reporting, the presence of working parent burnout has a strong association with attention, internalizing and externalizing behaviors in their children. Examples of these kinds of behaviors include:
    • Attention behaviors: inability to sit still, trouble concentrating, easily distracted
    • Internalizing: feels sad or unhappy, down on themselves, worries a lot
    • Externalizing: fights with other children, does not listen to rules, teases others

Working Parent Burnout: Tips and Tricks Webinar

In this webinar, Chief Wellness Officer and College of Nursing Dean, Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, and faculty member, Dr. Kate Gawlik, present more about the report findings and share strategies and resources to help you and your family combat working parent burnout.

Here are five other evidence-based strategies that can help you

Even a five- to ten-minute recovery break a couple of times a day to enhance your well-being or engage in something that brings you joy does wonders (e.g., drink a warm beverage slowly; do a five-minute meditation; get some physical activity, such as dancing to your favorite music or walking up and down the stairs).

Don’t set expectations too high. Don’t overcommit or feel guilty for saying “no” to something. Forgive yourself; everyone has strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Stay connected to family and friends

This can include practicing mindfulness, developing cognitive-behavioral skills, practicing gratitude and self-affirmations and deep abdominal breathing.

If your level of burnout, anxiety and/ or depressive symptoms are interfering with your ability to function or concentrate, talk to your primary care provider or seek out mental health help. It is a strength to recognize when we need help, not a weakness!


Working Parent Burnout Full Report

View the full report on parental burnout and how you can become more resilient.

Working Parent Burnout Scale

Use the scale to evaluate your level of burnout.

NBC's TODAY Show Story

Learn why parental burnout is a "public health issue".

Ohio State Health & Discovery Comprehensive Coverage

Full coverage from Ohio State on this report that show the danger of working parental burnout.

Mental Health Resources at Ohio State

Learn what resources you can use to help you become more resilient.