Burnout in Parenthood with Anne Helen Peterson

voices of your village Dec 03, 2020

Happy podcast Thursday and welcome to episode 149 of Voices of Your Village! For this interview I got to hangout with Anne Helen Petersen and she was a real delight to chat with. I had such a fun time, we dove into burnout in parenthood: what it really looks like, what is really at the center of it, and what does it look like to move forward through it?


“How do we move from the culture of burnout that so many of us are living in into something that looks more balanced?”


We talk about systemic issues that feed into burnout and we know that burnout is so high right now in this season where so many of us have had our villages striped away due to Covid. We talk about some Covid specific things here, but I also wanted to dive into what this looks like outside of Covid. So many of us are spinning on a hamster wheel before Covid hit, just trying to get through the days. 


“This isn’t new because of Covid, it was just amplified by Covid.”


Anne was so rad to dive into this with. If you love this conversation today, you can snag Anne’s book Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation wherever you get your books. It is such an important topic for us all to be chatting about so we can change this for the future and for our tiny human’s future. Alright folks, let’s dive in.


In 2018 when Anne first experienced burnout, she was hesitant to label it as such. She felt that she needed to be working all the time and if she paused work then she would lose her footing, this attempt to describe her feeling of burnout led to her viral Buzzfeed article and in turn her bestselling book.


I was eager to dive deep with Anne about burnout at a broad scale and in terms of parental burnout. First, we chatted about systemic burnout. I started by asking Anne why she thinks millennials are so susceptible to burnout. She told me that it largely boils down to how we were raised by our parents and how different that lifestyle was to how millennials have been taught how to raise their own children.


“There is this narrative running that we aren’t supposed to leave, that we need to be there for every moment of our children’s lives. Which is not sustainable, and from a child development standpoint, not developmentally appropriate.”


Anne believes that this is directly related to the general ethos in America that “more is better” in every case. She has been trying to take lessons from exercise science that says that resting is part of your workout. In parenting in particular, there is this idea that if you are not participating in the play with your child it is automatically neglect and a negative parenting practice.


In her book, Anne dives into how gender plays a role in burnout. I asked her to go a little deeper about the realities of this truth. She told me, “I think there is not necessarily a feeling of fatherhood burnout in hetersexual households, and there is a huge feeling of burnout with mothers.” When you look at the stats of the division of labor in heterosexual homes, it is sticking at around 70/30 with women handling the brunt of the work.


“It is not that the father does not have the tools, it is that he has not cultivated the tools crucial to raising kids in the home.”


Through our conversation it became increasingly clear to me that parental burnout is a structural problem, there are systems at play and it is not something we can necessarily address at an individual level. So, I asked Anne what exactly addressing burnout at a structural level looks like. She told me that addressing burnout at a structural level would look like affordable and accessible childcare for all, mandatory maternity leave, and mandatory paternity leave. “What this would do ultimately is shift the view of primary parent and secondary parent into two primary parents, and the ripples through the home are tremendous,” said Anne.


I had such a great time diving deep into burnout and chatting with Anne for this episode. For more of her, you can find her book Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation at your favorite indie bookstore and subscribe to her Substack Culture Study right here.


Of course, you can always find me @Seed.and.Sew on Instagram and Facebook. Pop on over to my DMs when you finish this week’s episode and let me know how you are going to start tackling your own burnout. Which one of Anne’s tips resonated with you the most? Let me know!


Until next time,





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