Fatigue is common among mothers of infants and young children and associated with a range of negative parenting outcomes. Little is understood, however, about the mechanisms by which fatigue may impact on parenting, particularly among mothers beyond 12 months post-partum. This study investigated the relationship between maternal fatigue and overreactive discipline, and whether parenting self-efficacy mediates this relationship. Methods: Participants were 252 Australian mothers of 1-4 years old children. Levels of fatigue, parenting self-efficacy, and overreactive discipline were recorded via a self-report questionnaire. Results: A simple mediation model analysis provided support for the direct effect of fatigue on overreactive discipline, as well as the mediation of this relationship by parenting self-efficacy. Conclusions: These findings suggest fatigue may contribute to overreactive discipline in mothers of young children via two pathways: directly, and indirectly via parenting self-efficacy. Interventions that support mothers to manage fatigue and maintain a sense of parenting self-efficacy while facing ongoing exhaustion may promote the use of more effective and less adverse discipline responses with children.
Previous studies have demonstrated that fatigue is a risk factor for depressive symptoms in mothers of young children. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the five facets of mindfulness moderated the relationship between fatigue and depressive symptoms in mothers of young children. A sample of 723 mothers of children aged 1–5 years completed the Fatigue Assessment Scale, the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form. Results showed that four out of the five mindfulness facets (non-judging of inner experience, non-reactivity to inner experience, acting with awareness, and describing) weakened the relationship between fatigue and depressive symptoms. Interaction effects were found to be small. Further investigation of the unique roles of the five mindfulness facets as well as other possible protective factors and interventions that may weaken the fatigue-depressive symptom relationship in mothers of young children is warranted.