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  • Parents Are Candidates For Burnout At This Point: The First Step To Minimize It

    "We are ending our days tired, wasted, and exhausted."
    by Gail Reyes Galang, Ph.D. .
Parents Are Candidates For Burnout At This Point: The First Step To Minimize It
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Tirachard Kumtanom
  • Dr. Gail Reyes Galang is chair of the Family Studies program of Miriam College where she also teaches under the Department of Psychology. She is currently the associate director of the Center for Peace Education.

    When people ask me how I am these days, I never really know what to say. My default answer is, “I’m okay, just trying to keep my life balanced.” The truth is, I’m tired.

    I don’t recall when I was this busy and to think that I’m just at home. I never brought work home, and I was fine to let the weekend pass without peeking through my email. I had no obsessions about clearing my inbox because, in my mind, things can wait until Monday.

    I’ve been working for almost three decades now, and I must admit that I’ve wished for more days spent at home than at work. I guess I got my wish last March 2020 when we all went into a community lockdown.

    Multitasking with anxiety

    During the first weeks of the lockdown, I was afraid of falling ill, and death seemed too real to dismiss lightly. Just like everyone, my husband and I worried ourselves sick if our food supply would last. The uncertainty of things made us feel very helpless and too anxious.

    I was not eating right. I was not sleeping well, and I was conscious of every sensation in my head, nose, and throat. The only thing that was going well for me at that time was that I was losing some weight.

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    It is impossible to multi-task and do well on everything.

    Working from home introduced a new set of emotions, mostly feelings of exhaustion at the end of the day. I woke up running already to get things done. My first waking hour was spent checking my email because someone could be waiting for my reply. Breakfast in the mornings were done hurriedly because a webinar usually follows that lasts until noon.

    On days that I have to cook lunch, it’s either we eat late, or I cook and tune in simultaneously — a no-no!

    One evening, I had to take a call in the middle of a webinar. I was deep into the conversation that when I returned to the webinar, it escaped me that I also turned on the stove just before taking the call. Worst, that same evening, I left something cooking too long because I was composing an email from my phone.

    We are tired

    Why are we tired? We are tired for a good number of reasons. First, we are exhausted thinking about our safety to a point where you become less strict about safety protocols because it is just too much to do.

    Second, work demands changed. This would have been okay if topics were easy enough to absorb from prior knowledge. But, in my job as a teacher, we were learning about new apps and novel ways of delivering lessons online. New terms emerged: synchronous, asynchronous, time on task, modular mode of delivery, etc.

    Wifi connection became so crucial that people moved to different parts of the house to get a better signal. Every member of the household was now competing for space, one that was quiet enough so that when you unmute to speak, no one will hear your son gaming next to you.

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    We are ending our days tired, wasted, and exhausted.

    The lines between work life and home life have become so blurry. Work hours became indefinite. And working from home did not exempt you from skipping chores like preparing meals, cleaning, and doing errands in between these hours.

    Candidate for burnout

    If I could complete a series on Netflix before, I can’t even get myself to finish a movie today. Sadly, being tired has also kept me from calling my parents or chatting with my sisters. Worse, I’ve isolated myself from my kids because of work that we end up feeling disconnected, except when we need to gather to pray at night.

    Fatigue and exhaustion will lower our immune system, which will make us all the more vulnerable to getting sick. We cannot just allow the days to be the same, day in and day out.

    We have to stop living our lives on autopilot.

    Dr. Galang also hosts a weekly program, “Our Peaceful Classroom” in Channel e. She is mom to four kids and four fur babies.

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