Like professional burn-out, maternal or paternal burn-out follows three very specific phases. It sets in little by little, over the weeks and months.
The first stage of maternal burnout relates to the notion of emotional exhaustion. The mother feels exhausted and drained of all her physical, emotional and psychological energy. Constant fatigue, irritability, lack of patience, lack of enthusiasm are signs that the mother is losing control. However, this often constitutes a first gap between her perception and her reality. She often wants to control everything, she wants everything to be perfect, she has very high, and in fact overly-high expectations for herself and her children. ,
At this stage, in the best case, the parent will become aware of the situation and ask for help (among friends and relatives, therapy). But she can also redouble her efforts to close this gap and persevere in her dysfunction.
Gradual establishment of a distance
The second stage in a burnout corresponds to a phase of detachment.
This emotional distance with those around her, her family, her friends but also her children is a way for the mother to protect herself. In fact, the body and the mind set up defense mechanisms to respond to an environment that has become too stressful, too “aggressive”. During this phase the mother gives the impression of being indifferent to everything.
Third and last phase of burn-out, the mother completely loses her footing.
She realizes she’s nowhere near what she wanted to be. Despite all the work done, despite all her efforts, she finds (or imagines) that she has failed. These mothers (or fathers) then experience an acute feeling of personal failure and many symptoms will testify to this ill-being which generates loss of confidence, withdrawal into oneself, emotional outbursts. In some cases this can lead to aggressive behavior towards the children.