Parents are stressed and lonely: 6 things brokers and employers can do

Stressed mom sitting on couch with two kids and an open laptop. Stressed mom sitting on couch with two kids and an open laptop. Stressed mom sitting on couch with two kids and an open laptop. Stressed mom sitting on couch with two kids and an open laptop.

Key takeaways

New data shows that parents are more stressed and lonelier than ever. We’ve got six tips for how brokers and employers can help.

Being a parent is a privilege and a joy but it’s also an immense responsibility and with that responsibility can come isolation.

An April 2024 national survey conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center sheds some sobering light on the isolation, burnout and lack of support experienced by parents across the country.

There are many factors that can lead to isolation and burnout, but for employees who are parents, it’s key that employers understand the unique pressures parents are under as it can impact employee mental health and professional performance.

The Ohio State survey revealed the following key findings:

Isolation and Loneliness: About two-thirds (66%) of respondents admitted to feeling isolated and lonely due to the demands of parenthood. Even if parents are surrounded by their families or colleagues this feeling of isolation persists.

Burnout: Parenting responsibilities took a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of respondents, with 62% reporting feeling burned out by their roles as parents. The continual demands of caregiving, coupled with societal pressures to “do it all,” including working, contribute to the feelings of exhaustion.

Lack of Support: Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) parents feel they have no one to support them in their parenting journey. This lack of a support system amplifies feelings of loneliness and makes the already challenging road of parenthood even harder.

Longing for Connection: A staggering 79% of respondents expressed longing to connect with other parents outside of work and home but they felt there is no clear way to do this. This underscores the importance of community as people raise children. It truly does take a village but how does one find or create that much-needed village?

Gina Fishman, a mom from Massachusetts, emphasizes the challenges faced by parents who work from home, highlighting the need for discipline to maintain a structured schedule and the importance of proactive communication from coworkers. She shares, “Since I do not typically work from home due to the nature of my job, I see how parents who do work from home on a regular basis feel isolated.”

Kerren Roth, another Massachusetts parent, shares her experience of parental burnout, underscoring the constant juggling act and the difficulty in establishing friendships due to differing lifestyles and schedules. Roth shares, “My kids now go to daycare three days a week but I am the primary default parent when it comes to when they stay home sick or on the two days a week they are not in school. Although I did not experience the demand to work and homeschool during the pandemic as many parents in the survey have (my son was just born during the pandemic) I have absolutely felt and still do feel the burnout that comes along with parenting two littles. There is always so much to juggle that even having to think about what to make for the next meal can be exhausting. My husband is very hands on and so very helpful but as the default parent, there is so much to handle day in and out.”

Roth goes on to say, “Although we have our parents that help out with the kids, our friends and family members with small children do not live around us so it can be very lonely. I’ve also noticed it’s very hard to establish a friendship with other local moms due to having different lifestyles, different schedules, young kids with unpredictable moods and illnesses, etc.”

So what can be done to help employees in this situation? The following six tips may help:

  1. Design Tailored Benefits Packages: Brokers and employers should collaborate to design benefits packages and wellness program initiatives that reflect the needs of parent employees, including resources for managing parental burnout and promoting mental well-being.

  2. Raise Awareness of Parental Burnout: Educate managers and employees about the impact of parental burnout on both individuals and workplace performance. Encourage open discussions and provide resources for support.

  3. Promote Work/Life Balance: Implement policies that support work/life balance, such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting options and parental leave policies. Encourage employees to prioritize self-care and family time.

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  4. Facilitate Community Building: Create opportunities for parents to connect with each other inside and outside of work. These can be in the form of parent support groups, social events, or online forums. Encourage collaboration and camaraderie among parent employees by facilitating talks, lunch groups or workshops.

  5. Provide Accessible Support Resources: Offer access to resources such as counseling services, childcare assistance programs, stress reduction, and parental coaching to help parents navigate the challenges of parenthood and alleviate feelings of isolation.

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  6. Address Economic Pressures: Recognize the impact of economic pressures on parental stress and offer financial wellness programs or assistance to alleviate financial burdens where possible.

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