We have all been there.
The days on which we wondered if we could be free from the never-ending day-to-day chores of motherhood and live carefree.
Motherhood brings with it a lot of burdens we could not have imagined before entering it.
And once you become a mother, there is no turning back or can ever ‘un-mom’ yourself.
Though we have our bad days, we have our fun and happy days too. And that makes us keep going.
But mom burnouts are not fun. Not at all.
Burnout makes us lose passion and the zest for life. We lose the motivation to do anything after we wake up.
But when you are a mom – especially if you have to manage your kids, work and household on your own – you cannot take a day off when you feel like it.
No matter how much you eat or sleep well, you feel tired. Because your mental list is never done.
There is always something to do. The chores never end and your sense of responsibility never leaves your brain.
You always feel stressed and you are literally jumping from one task to the next not being able to take a break physically or mentally.
This feeling of having to go on and on leads to physical and mental exhaustion.
What makes it worse is when your kids don’t cooperate with you.
You might feel disconnected from yourself because you can hardly take time for yourself peacefully in a stretch. You want to swim within yourself to find the real you who is not a mom and wants to do so many things.
This crisis and exhaustion cause mommy burnout.
Mom burnout can be defined as the condition in which you feel exhausted physically, emotionally and mentally that you feel you have nothing more to give.
Here are some symptoms of mom burnout:
- You feel irritated and you are short-tempered. You snap at the smallest of triggers.
- You feel less productive and you lack the motivation to start doing any work
- You do not seem to enjoy the things you used to anymore
- You feel exhausted
- You withdraw to your own shell. You don’t feel like interacting with others
- Sleep problems
- You feel resentful towards your partner, kids or other childless people
As a mom, I have had days on which I felt I cannot be a parent anymore. I have felt the exhaustion of having to constantly take care of others and on some days I want to take care of only myself.
This parenting thing asking us to be selfless all the time can take a toll on parents – especially mothers- who are stretched so thin so as to take care of all the responsibilities at the same time.
And on top of all of this, we are expected to keep our feelings in check and not break down, because if we break down how are we supposed to take care of the little people who depend on us?
So we try to put on a brave face and act as if we have it all together. Maybe this is the reason moms get to burnout more because we don’t admit we need help easily.
Women have forever been pushed to take on caretaker roles. And thus we push ourselves to the maximum limit before we get burned down.
And burnout is not limited to working moms, it happens to stay-at-home moms too because stay-at-home moms are always home and so they have to do more chores around the home compared to their working partners.
And the chores at home never end.
Stay-at-home moms are also at home most of the time with kids while working moms have the option to go out and socialise with other people.
And not all stay-at-home moms do it deliberately. Some decide to stay at home because of the guilty feeling of not taking care of children on their own.
Some do it due to societal pressures and some do it because they can’t afford child care.
So many resent their partners and feel stuck. Unlike working moms, they are not getting paid too. All these lead to frustration and burnout in stay-at-home moms.
So, what about burnout in working moms?
As they say, we feel the grass is greener on the other side. Working moms might feel like staying at home is better because they are overwhelmed by juggling work, home and kids.
And work-at-home moms deal with guilt too. They feel guilty for leaving the kids behind, missing their milestones, not spending enough time with them, not cooking enough healthy meals for the family, etc.
As a mom who works from home, and because I am around kids all the time, I can take care of kids’ needs more than a mom who works outside of the home. But I am never free of guilt too.
Even though I am working from home, I still need to put in hours for work which makes me time-deprived for so many things I want to do.
As a result, I feel overwhelmed because I feel like I never have enough time for work, enough time for kids, or enough time for myself.
So I am always in a constant state of stress, overwhelm, and never enough feeling. And when I am with kids, I am reminded of the work tasks and vice versa.
The constant chatter in my mind about the tasks I have to do made me fall into burnout mode. Thankfully, I got over it, learned my lessons and am doing better.
So, even if you are a working mom or stay-at-home mom, how can we deal with mom burnout? Or even better how to prevent mom burnout?
Let me give you some tips that have helped me.
HOW TO DEAL WITH MOM BURNOUT?
1. IDENTIFY WHAT MAKES YOU SUFFER
If you suspect you are suffering from mom burnout, try to identify what’s causing the burnout.
Is it because you are managing all the chores alone?
Is it because you are not eating enough healthy food?
Is it because your kids are not listening?
Is it because you are not able to strike a balance between work and home life?
Is it because of the emotional load of motherhood?
Is it because you are not spending enough time with yourself?
Is it because of the constant neediness of kids?
Is it sleep deprivation?
There could be a number of reasons why you feel a lack of energy and are not able to enjoy motherhood.
Or it could be a combination of reasons. When I started feeling burnout, I dug deep to find out the reasons.
What I found out was, that I do not like being needed all the time. Being an introvert, I valued my alone time so much. And also, the constant responsibilities of motherhood from which I cannot take a break pulled me down.
And in addition to all of these, I was not eating healthy and sometimes missed the life before motherhood too.
Whatever the reason for your burnout, you can brainstorm and find a solution and prevent mom burnout from happening again.
2. ASK FOR HELP
When you have found out the reasons for mom burnout, it is not a good idea to try to solve them on your own.
As they say, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It can’t be more true.
It’s important to learn to ask for help and discuss all your problems with your partner or other trusted people.
Women usually take the role of caregivers and grow up feeling they always have to be on top of everything, taking care of everyone’s needs.
For the same reason, it’s hard for many of us to admit we need help until we can take it no more and we experience burnout.
After identifying what unfulfilled needs are causing you to burn out, find out how and where you can get help from.
It can be from a paid helper, family member or friends. But be sure to seek help for the sake of your sanity.
3. LEARN TO SAY NO
Do not try to be a supermom by being everything and doing everything for your family.
We should know how much we can handle in a day or a week, and accept requests accordingly.
Just because other moms are making Insta- worthy snacks and driving their kids to five different classes every day, you don’t have to do it.
Children thrive well when they have emotionally healthy parents with whom they can spend quality time daily. It’s normal to feel guilty when you see other moms do everything for their kids and post it on social media.
But you know nothing about their mental health or how happy their kids are. And stop comparing yourself to other families. What works for you and your family is different and learn to embrace the difference.
What ultimately matters is that your family is healthy and happy and your basic needs are met. Everything else is an extra.
This must be practised by stay-at-home moms too. Just because you are a stay-at-home mom, it doesn’t mean you can fill your time accepting everyone’s requests.
Even if you are a working mom or stay-at-home mom, you have to know how much time you need for yourself to stay sane, so that you can be an energetic mom to your kids.
And sign up for more activities accordingly. And also, your kids should grow up seeing you make yourself a priority and setting boundaries.
Your family including kids should understand that you have your emotional needs too, and because of that your downtime is non-negotiable too.
4. SCHEDULE BREAK TIME
I know that a mom is on call 24x7x365. But does it have to be the norm?
Think about various ways you can get a break from all your roles for a day every week or at least for half a day.
Talk with your partner or anyone else who can help you make this a reality. Your break time should be scheduled and let your partner and kids take over the kitchen (teach them simple recipes) and do the chores they can do according to their age.
This will also help kids appreciate the work you do at home and encourage them to offer more help.
5. SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
Try to find out in whatever ways you can work smarter and save more time.
Planning your days including meals, chores, work time etc. can help in reducing overwhelm.
Stop doing all the activities that you can let go of and slow down.
Accept the fact that you have only limited time on your hands and make wise use of that.
Some ways to simplify :
- Declutter your home and stop accumulating stuff. This helps in reducing cleaning time and also saves you more money and energy required to make decisions.
- Plan your meals and do meal prep once a week. Saves you much time during the week.
- Do not fill your time with too many activities. Let go of tasks that are burdening you. Acknowledge the fact that the season you are in requires more of your energy and dedication as a mom. There are things that you have always wanted to do. Let go of the guilt and postpone it for later when you will have the time and energy to do it – to another season when your kids are a little more grown-up and independent. As much as doing things you like is important, you should refrain from overscheduling yourself.
- Divide chores between family members and train kids to be independent. Just saying “I need help” is not enough, but you should also make everyone aware of what their task is, and make systems accordingly.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
The reasons for burnout need not be all mental or emotional, but physical too. If having enough downtime is not helping you recover from burnout, consult your physician and do a health check-up.
Make sure you are eating healthy, have your supplements, and get enough exercise and sleep, which is very important.
7. DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE
Every once in a while, renew your spirits by doing things you love and de-stress yourself.
Be it enjoying time with your partner, meeting an old friend, knitting a sweater, painting a picture, etc.
In short, do whatever helps you to connect with yourself.
8. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU GOT DONE IN A DAY
This is very important for your productivity. So often we want to do so many things in a day and make a list of things to do every day.
But do you beat yourself up for not finishing the tasks on your list? When you constantly focus on what you didn’t get done instead of what you got done, you will never feel enough and can never be satisfied.
This leads to the feeling of “never enough” which causes you to feel unmotivated.
What I do is, in my planner, there is a space to write down ‘my achievements this week’.
I write down my achievements every week, no matter how small they are in this column. This helps me to put my perspective on how much I get done rather than what I didn’t get done.
Also, listing your top 3 tasks in a day helps. These are the top 3 tasks that you should get done no matter what and even if you do not get the low-priority tasks done it’s completely okay. You can move on with the next portion of your day.
9. REDUCE SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE
Increased use of social media can make us compare ourselves with others and make us feel incompetent.
Let go of unrealistic expectations and focus on your family’s priorities and live simply.
10. CREATE A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
Have a group of people whom you can rely on. Always have open communication about your struggles with your loved ones. And let go of people who judge you on your parenting style.
If you feel you still cannot deal with the mental load with the above tips, consult a therapist who can guide you and help you find balance in life as a mother.
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