Everything you need to know about mommy burnout
Burnout has officially been recognized as an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization (WHO). And while most people think of burnout in regards to traditional jobs, the same phenomenon is happening to moms across the country.
The ever-increasing demands of motherhood (which are often combined with work) and an overall lack of support leaves many moms facing unrelenting stress. This chronic stress is what leads to mom burnout.
Here is everything you need to know about mom burnout.
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What is Mom Burnout?
Mom burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. And it’s much more than moms merely being “tired.” Burnout is a state of exhaustion that leaves you feeling drained, no matter how much rest you’ve had.
Although burnout shares some of the same symptoms as depression, they are not the same thing. According to psychologist Sheryl Ziegler (author of the book Mommy Burnout), you can experience burnout without being depressed.
Symptoms of Mom Burnout
Signs of mom burnout with vary from person to person, but here are some of the most common symptoms you might experience:
- You’re tired all the time
- You’re more impatient and irritable
- You resent your children/ the responsibilities of motherhood
- You never feel accomplished or productive enough
- You feel cynical toward your husband or friends
- Your sleep patterns have changed (you’re sleeping much more or much less)
- Tasks that once seemed easy now feel overwhelming
- You are resorting to coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or emotional eating
- You are experiencing health issues, such as headaches or stomach problems
- You feel like you are failing as a mom
How to Avoid Mom Burnout
Ideally, we should aim to live our lives in a way that avoids burnout before it ever has a chance to hit. Here are some ways you can do that:
1. Maintain Boundaries
I wish I could shout this one from the rooftops. YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING!
You don’t need to sign up for every fundraiser, be present at every gathering, attend every birthday party, or PTO meeting.
You need to maintain healthy boundaries for yourself. That might mean saying “no” to some otherwise good things.
I am entirely guilty of over-scheduling, so this had been a tough one for me to learn. My family jokes that I have 5 jobs (I kiiiind of do), but I know my limits. I also understand the difference between an activity that’s going to drain me and one that is going to fill me up.
Pretend that you have a budget for your energy (because you do). Then plan for where you want to spend it.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Are you sick of hearing about self-care yet? Well, get over it. Because you need to be taking care of yourself if you want to thrive as a mom and avoid burning out.
Eat healthy food, drink tons of water, exercise a few times per week, and try to get full nights of sleep whenever possible.
I have been both an unhealthy, sleep-deprived mom, and I have been a healthy, well-rested mom. Take it from me, my entire family benefits when I am the latter.
Everything about motherhood is easier when you fuel your body with nourishing food rather than junk and break a sweat now and then.
I do workouts in my basement before my kids wake up because it’s what works best for me. (Check out Beachbody On Demand for some fantastic home workouts that are cheaper than a Netflix subscription. You can even get a 30-day free trial.)
And, please don’t neglect your emotional, mental, or spiritual health either. Schedule in activities that nourish your whole self. Here are some possible examples:
- Date nights
- Taking a bath
- Watching your favorite TV show
- Drinking coffee or tea
- Going out with friends
- Getting a manicure
- Or how about, just doing nothing for a while?!
Find what fills you up and make it a priority!
3. Connect with Other Moms
Whether you’re an introvert who recharges when you’re alone or an extrovert who thrives when around others, make an effort to connect with others.
Motherhood can feel like a lonely journey, whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. But when you connect with other moms, you start to realize that you aren’t alone. You also begin to realize that all of the feelings you have are entirely normal.
If you’re an introvert, you won’t want to do as much, but it’s still worth stepping out of your comfort zone to find connections.
I take my toddler to a free toddler gym that was advertised in my town’s newspaper. Many churches host these kinds of events, so try looking for one near you.
I’m also in a small group at church, as well as a MOMs group at a different church. And twice a year, I join a women’s Bible study that connects me with other ladies at my church.
You can also do playdates or get babysitting coverage so you can grab a cup of peaceful cup of coffee with a friend.
If you are having trouble connecting with moms in real life, you can try connecting virtually by joining “mommy groups” on Facebook. These groups can be a great opportunity to make new friends, both online and in your community.
4. Avoid Anything That Causes Chronic Stress
This goes along with maintaining boundaries in our lives.
If there are unnecessary things in your life that are causing you to be continuously stressed, ditch them!
Of course, there are some stressors in our lives that we can’t get rid of, such as laundry, dishes, picking up toys, work, errands, etc.
But much of the pressure we put on ourselves as moms is needless. You don’t need to be perfect, and you don’t have to do all the things that you see other moms doing.
If social media is a point of stress for you, take a break from it or unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.
Find your pain points and do whatever you can to make them less painful.
5. ASK FOR HELP!
Last but not least, ASK FOR HELP!
Life and motherhood are not meant to be done alone.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, tell your husband or reach out to your friends. Churches and mom groups are also great resources.
Also, consider delegating what you can.
For example, on weeks that I’m particularly busy, I have my groceries delivered.
I used to feel guilty about that because it’s more expensive than going to the store myself, but you know what? I only have so much energy, and I don’t always want to use it to grocery shop with a toddler. So, now I order groceries guilt-free when I need to.
If you can muster up the energy to ask (which I realize can be a task itself), you may be pleasantly surprised at how many people are willing to help. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. We all struggle, some just hide it better.
As a Christian, I also believe in the power of prayer and leaning into God. We don’t have to be strong all the time. In fact, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that his power is made perfect in our weakness. (*sigh of relief*)
Recovering From Mommy Burnout
Whether you feel like you’re on the path to burnout or you’ve already arrived, you need to take time to recover. Recovering from mommy burnout is different than recovering from burnout at traditional jobs because we never really get vacations from being moms.
If possible, see if you can help with your kids for a while so that you can have some time off. Can your partner or a trusted relative or friend take the kids for a weekend?
You can also try taking a week or two off from your additional responsibilities. The world will not fall apart if you take some time to focus on your wellbeing.
If you can get yourself to a point where you feel you better, you must create a more sustainable routine going forward. If you don’t, you’ll end up right back where you were– burnt out!
If you need additional help keeping yourself well and balanced as a mom, sign up for my free course, “Finding Wellness and Balance as a Mom.”
Other posts related to mom burnout:
- 10 Habits That Keep Me Well and Balanced as a Mom
- 10 More Habits That Keep Me Well and Balanced as a Mom
- To the Mom Who Feels Like a Hot Mess
- Permission to Recharge
- Why You Should Ditch the Mom Guilt
- I Was Having “One of Those Days” as a Mom