Balancing Work Burnout with a New Baby: 5 Hacks for New Dads

Burnout is more than just a buzzword - it's the result of excessive or chronic stress, and its impact is much greater than simply feeling tired. While anyone can experience burnout, new parents are especially at risk due to the physical and emotional demands of raising a baby, as well as managing a big shift in lifestyle. Due to the difference in length between paternity and maternity leave, new dads – if they aren’t the designated stay-at-home parent - generally return to work a lot sooner than their partners, giving them less time to adjust to fatherhood alongside their job. While many men manage this transition well, it’s a good idea to be mindful during this stage, gently easing back into work to avoid burnout.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can spot the early signs of burnout, as well as 5 steps you can take to help manage feelings of stress and/or anxiety when it comes to adjusting to work life with a new baby.

4 Signs of Burnout

This is not an exhaustive list, but these five symptoms can be indicative that you might be experiencing burnout, or could be on your way…

  1. Feeling Resentful

Welcoming a new baby into the world is a magical time, but that’s not to say it doesn’t also come with a whirlwind of mixed emotions for both parents. However, if you find yourself starting to feel resentful towards caring for your child or resentful towards having to work alongside some of these other symptoms and behaviours, it could be a sign that you’re struggling with overwhelm.

  1. Isolating Yourself

Have you noticed yourself turning down catch-ups with friends or family, even when you have the chance? Burnout can present itself as withdrawing from others, either due to a loss of interest in activities or a lack of energy to partake. Unlike loneliness, this type of isolation is self-inflicted and can become detrimental to your relationships, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing if left unchecked.

  1. Change in Appetite

Finding time to eat isn’t always easy during the newborn stage. However, if you realise it’s actually a decreased level of hunger that’s stopping you from eating as much as you normally would, then this could be a sign of burnout. Alternatively, you may find yourself more hungry than usual and craving comfort food.

  1. Lack of Motivation

Physical and emotional exhaustion can lead to a lack of motivation. Being exhausted as a new parent - usually due to interrupted sleep - is commonplace, but perhaps you’ve realised that you’re no longer driven at work in quite the same way that you were before and it’s starting to affect your productivity. The lack of motivation that comes from burnout is more to do with will, capacity and mental exhaustion.

5 Steps to Beating Burnout While Adjusting to Fatherhood

  1. Learn to Delegate

Being authoritative doesn’t come naturally to everyone, which can make setting boundaries tricky. However, by delegating work or speaking to your manager about how you can work together to better balance your workload can help minimise stress. And, by putting less pressure on yourself at work, you can regain energy levels to be the best version of yourself at home too.

  1. Create a Family Calendar

Getting organised at home can also help you to manage burnout. As you return to work and start to navigate your daily routine with a newborn, it might be helpful to make a calendar for the family to plan around. This could be useful for seeing when you or your partner can take some time out with friends, or, if you work hybrid, to plan your in-office days. Working as a united force can also help you to feel more supported and lighten the load by having a visual reminder of your plans.

  1. Make Self-Care a Priority

Self-care is just as important after becoming a parent. With a new baby at home, it can be easy to neglect yourself by putting ‘me’ time last. But adjusting how you care for yourself can be a great compromise. Simply packing a nutritious lunch to go to work, keeping on top of your water intake, or taking a moment to listen to your favourite music also count as self-care. If you miss hitting the gym before or after work, why not schedule a 30-minute session rather than your pre-baby 60-minute session? By looking after your physical and emotional health, you can build resilience and recharge your batteries.

  1. Stay Connected

Where your schedule allows, try to get involved the next time your friends organise a gathering. At work, make the effort to attend socials (even if virtually) or grab a coffee with a colleague. When you’re not feeling your best, it can be hard work to socialise, especially if you’ve been withdrawing yourself. But by leaning on others, it can help you to create better relationships and a support network.

  1. Consider Seeking Help

If you’re struggling to cope and feel yourself headed for burnout, then you might want to consider seeking professional help. This way, you’ll be able to access advice for your specific circumstance, as well as techniques for helping you to manage going forward. Remember, reaching out is never a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a sign that you want to better yourself to be the best possible parent, partner, and employee you can be.