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How to prevent burnout for you and your children

DETROIT – As adults we might be feeling weary and burned out from all of these weeks doing everything from home -- but experts say we aren’t the only ones.

Children can be suffering from burnout too.

Read more: Kids at Home

After many weeks of staying home, with schools closed, practices and parties cancelled -- your children are probably doing almost the same thing, day in and day out.

“There is no such thing as the perfect mother, there’s only the burnt out," said Dr. Donna Rockwell. "And what we need to be is the good-enough mother so that we can take care of ourselves and that our children know that we need to take care of ourselves, and they can learn that from watching us.”

Rockwell said one way to try to beat it is by making sure your children have structure throughout their day. Have the family wake up at the same time, eat together, go for walks. A routine, she said, can be helpful with burnout, but it’s also important for children to know why things are different.

“It’s important for children to understand that we are going through difficult times and we can sort of lay the foundation or that they are watching us have to go to work every day from home, and they see that we’re under a lot of stress.," Rockwell said. "But if we’re able to cope with that stress, then our children will learn how to cope with the stress, they feel our burnout.”

The first step to preventing burnout is practicing self-care.

“You know in the Western culture we’re used to self care as being a selfish idea, but it isn’t selfish," Rockwell said. "The adage that you know put on your own oxygen mask on the airplane before you assist others. That’s how we need to look at self care.”

Rockwell said since children learn from their parents, it’s important to be at your best.

“If we’re not at our best, they can’t learn from us how to be at their best. It’s really important that we think this through,” Rockwell said. "We take care of ourselves and our children see us do that, then they will learn how to take care of their themselves.”

It’s important to not feel guilty about taking care of yourself.

“We should feel terrific that we’ve been able to do what we’ve been able to do. That we’ve been here in these homes for how many weeks and that we’re still all in one piece," Rockwell said. "This notion of guilt, I think we really need to get rid of that and have a sense of feeling good about ourselves and feeling good about our family. That will multiply that feeling will create more well being in the home.”

Rockwell said it can be as simple as taking time to exercise, getting fresh air or even connecting with a friend -- you just need to listen to what your body need.

“I think that it’s so smart to be in the moment and to use your wise mind to decide what’s necessary right now," Rockwell said. "If we don’t, it can really lead to burn out because there’s only so much our mental circuitry can take. We need to have downtime. We need to relax. We need to teach our children how to relax.”

The whole family should have some downtime scheduled every afternoon.

“What’s so interesting is that this is a period of time where we can come out of it better off than we thought we would we can come out of it -- resilient and able to take care of ourselves," Rockwell said. "Our children are actually learning how to take care of themselves. During this time, if they can see us taking care of ourselves. It’s a wonderful time for us to learn important life lessons.”


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