There is no doubt that being a mom is hard work. Kids are exhausting, demanding, and all-consuming. We all know the feeling of being burned out all too well with the expectations that we have of ourselves. Motherhood burnout is real, and it is not uncommon.
Being burned out can lead to guilt that we aren’t doing enough, feeling disconnected from our kids, and making us lose our confidence as a mother. We want to feel happy and connected to our kids and be in the moment when we’re with them. Being burned out makes these things impossible, so we must recognize why we get motherhood burnout and how we can avoid it.
What is Motherhood Burnout?
According to Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, author of Mommy Burnout, in an interview with Today, “Mommy burnout is the emotional and physical exhaustion that you feel from the chronic stress of parenting . . . No matter how much sleep you get, you’re always tired. And you resent your kids sometimes, which is a tough one. You feel a reduced sense of personal accomplishment — it’s a fancy way of feeling like you’re never doing a good job. The prolonged nature to it, like there’s no end in sight.”
This quote perfectly sums up the different aspects of motherhood burnout. We are so physically and emotionally exhausted that we don’t ever feel like we’re doing a good job with the kids. It also seems like there is no end in sight to the feeling or the stress of it all. Moms may also have a hard time asking for help and are often short-tempered, leading to yelling at the kids when they don’t mean to.
Common Reasons Why Mothers Get Burned Out
The reasons behind why we get burned out can’t be attributed to only one thing. It is usually a combination of factors that pile on top of each other. It could be that we’re “on” all of the time. Often, we take care of the kids during the day and when they need something at night. Even if we take turns well with our partners, we still may have this pressure on ourselves of unrealistic expectations. We may expect ourselves to be everything to our kids, but it’s impossible.
Other factors may include lack of support, lack of face-to-face interactions, and lack of self-care. You may feel alone, especially as a stay-at-home mom, and have a hard time doing all of the things all of the time for your kids. You may not take breaks when you need them or ask for help. I know when I’m going at 110%, I might neglect my self-care or eat later than I should. These things can make us feel strung out, stressed, and cranky.
20 Tips to Avoid Motherhood Burnout
1. Know your triggers and risk factors.
There are certain things that will make anyone have a short fuse. Not eating enough or getting enough sleep is pretty universal. You may have other triggers that make you snap too. By recognizing what those are, you can help avoid getting burned out.
2. Plan breaks.
We adore our children, but sometimes we need to get away from them, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Plan breaks for yourself where you can take a moment to be alone.
3. Ask for help.
This is one of the biggest (and most difficult) aspects of motherhood burnout. Moms don’t ask for help as often as we need it. Even if something takes longer when done by someone else, it gives you more time to take a break, at least.
4. Stop comparing to other moms.
In this age of social media, we see other moms and their kids all the time. Remember that this is the highlight reel, and you don’t know what’s really going on behind the scenes. The best mother for your kids is you. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to what you think other moms are doing.
5. Start a journal.
Writing can be very therapeutic. It can help you sort out what you’re feeling and why. Make sure to reflect not just on the negative but also on the positive. Journaling can also help you see patterns to help you avoid burning out in the future.
6. Find a mom friend.
Since the pandemic started, some of my mom friends have fallen by the wayside. It has taken a while to get back to some semblance of normal, and that’s okay. At this point, seeking out other moms can greatly improve your mental health. By having someone empathize and validate your feelings, you may find that you already feel better.
7. Go to bed on time.
The temptation to stay up late to get some time to yourself is common among moms, but there’s actually a term for this. It’s called revenge bedtime procrastination, and the idea behind it is postponing going to bed to fit in the personal time you didn’t get during the day. While it’s essential to get time to yourself, sacrificing sleep isn’t necessarily the best way to do it.
8. Fit in some physical activity.
Exercise is a great way to help relieve stress. If the idea of committing time to work out is overwhelming, getting out for a walk works too. Even if you have to bring a stroller or walk slower than you’d like, the important thing is to get moving.
9. Use different places in the home for different things.
It is so easy to feel like we need to multitask instead of being able to focus on one thing at a time. A great way to reduce this is by designating certain areas of the home for different things. By not working in the kitchen or bed, you can transition roles easier and not feel pressured to do a bunch of stuff at once.
10. Give up apologizing so much for being human.
As moms, we tend to over-apologize. Many of the things we apologize for are part of being human. You make mistakes and are entitled to your feelings.
11. Lower your expectations.
We want to give our families the best we can, but sometimes it isn’t necessary and puts more pressure on ourselves. Our kids don’t always need the best of the best. Focus on the most important things, like their birthday, and go all out, but don’t do it for everything.
12. Find the things that make you feel good.
Before having kids, there may be certain things that you did to unwind. The problem is that those things may not fit well into your life with kids. Explore what makes you feel good and implement them into your life. This could be as simple as a bubble bath or an uninterrupted yoga session.
13. Get into a good routine.
Establishing a good routine not only helps your kids but also helps you as well. This way, all of you know what to expect from the day. The important thing to remember with this one is that routines can easily change. Kids are unpredictable, so you’re never going to 100% adhere to your pre-planned schedule, but having an idea of one can still help. Making sure they have regular food and sleep will help a lot.
14. Don’t feel bad for letting the kids entertain themselves.
Sure, it can be fun to play with your kids sometimes, but you don’t need to do it all the time. Kids are perfectly capable of playing by themselves. Letting them explore on their own can actually help them be more creative.
15. Restructure your morning or evening routine.
If you feel frazzled in the morning or completely exhausted come dinner, you may need to look at how you can make your morning or evening routine work better for you. You may need to give yourself more time in the morning, sleep more, or have a relaxing evening routine to help you de-stress.
16. Go somewhere.
Being cooped up all day in the house can be exhausting. A change of scenery could be just what you and your kids need. You don’t have to go somewhere every day. Set up something that you can handle. Some days, it may be going out in your yard and breathing in some fresh air while they play outside.
17. Take deep breaths.
When you’re freaking out, deep breaths can do you a world of good. Stop in the moment, take deep breaths, and remind yourself this phase isn’t forever.
18. Plan your meals.
This point is big for me because everything is worse when I’m hungry. You may be frazzled when trying to get the kids’ food ready, so do yourself a favor and plan your meals (and theirs) ahead of time so you’re not frantically trying to feed yourself and other people when you’re already hangry.
19. Learn how to say no.
As moms, we already have a lot on our plate, and you don’t need to accept an invitation if you don’t want to. Learning how to say no is important to your sanity. Make time for the key things, but you can say no to the rest.
20. Don’t forget about your partner.
Making the time to reconnect with your partner can be hard to do when we’re in the thick of parenting. We often feel like ships passing in the night. Be sure to plan some date nights when you can to reconnect.
Take a step back when you feel like you’re taking on too much and experiencing motherhood burnout. It can be hard to see things clearly in those intense moments. Find the things that help you reconnect to yourself and the people around you, take some time to relax, and ask for help and you’ll find you’re burning out less.
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