A Few Ways to Manage "Mom Burnout"
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
I’ve been thinking about the concept of “mom burnout” a lot recently, both personally and professionally. Mom burnout can leave you feeling depleted, disconnected, and as though you’re running on fumes. And given the breakneck pace of the culture in which we live, it can sometimes be hard to find a moment to reflect and even notice that we’re well past the brink of burnout. Here I offer some insights to help you restore your balance as a mother and as a human being.
Find a few minutes throughout your day to reflect on your physical and emotional state - When you are on the go all the time, it can feel like there is never time to take a step back and reflect on how you’re doing. I invite you to identify when there may be a time within your day where you can stop, even if just for five minutes, to observe what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing physically. Even granting yourself a few minutes a day can lead to increased awareness of where you’re at in life.
If you’re experiencing mom burnout, you may notice physical manifestations like lethargy, tension in your muscles, a low grade headache, or a sense of your body feeling depleted. You may notice feelings of panic, despair, resentment, anger, loneliness, frustration, fear, or worry. You may notice thoughts like, “I need a break,” “Why can’t my partner help out more?” “Do I really have to do this all over again tomorrow?”
Ask yourself what your needs are - Once you’ve taken stock of what is going on physically, mentally, and emotionally, you can start to identify your needs. In DBT, we talk about the idea that our emotions serve the purpose of giving us information about what our needs are. If you are feeling lonely or misunderstood, these emotions may be informing you to seek out like-minded people to connect with. If you are feeling resentful or angry, your emotions may be telling you that there’s an imbalance in your life that needs attending to. If you are fatigued and lethargic, your body is telling you that you need some rest and good sleep. I encourage you to become a curious, non-judgmental observer of your emotions, in order to get a better idea of what you need, both from yourself and from others.
Challenge limiting beliefs - It may be the case at times that our own beliefs can contribute to our mental load and feelings of burnout. As women, we are often told that we need to “do it all,” i.e. be successful in our careers, be loving and attentive mothers at all times, be a certain weight, be a selfless wife or partner...the list goes on. We may have received messages within our own upbringings that have led us to believe that we must take on the brunt of the housework or diaper changing or lunch prepping. This can take such a toll on us! I encourage you to notice if there are any beliefs you may have that are inadvertently causing you to take on more than your fair share of responsibility as a mother and in life.
Know that it’s okay to prioritize yourself - It is so natural and normal to feel guilt as a mom. As a mom, it can be so instinctual to want to safeguard our children from pain or unhappiness. Our children need us so much and can really struggle when we’re not available to them. So when we consider spending time away from them to spend the afternoon shopping or getting a massage, it can feel selfish and neglectful of our children and our families. Even carving out a little space for ourselves can just feel...wrong. Know that it is absolutely, positively okay to prioritize yourself and take breaks from motherhood and responsibility on occasion. Our minds and bodies suffer when there is extreme imbalance in our lives, and it makes it impossible to show up in a healthy, effective way for the people we most care about. Time spent recharging yourself can lead to a happier outlook for yourself and can have a ripple effect on your children and those you love.
If you’re a mom reading this, I hope these ideas help just a little bit. Know you are worthy of caring for yourself and meeting your needs. I hope there is a warm bubble bath and a long nap awaiting you sometime very soon.