First of All: What is ‘Mom Burnout’?
Mom burnout looks a little like not being able to make the simplest of decisions, crying at the drop of a hat, being irritable at things that shouldn’t irritate you, or feeling like you can’t even think straight anymore.
It can show up as sadness, anger, or apathy. It could also be related to your mental health so keep that in mind as you read on…
Stressed? Exhausted? Can’t keep up and there’s no end in sight?
Unfortunately, burnout among mothers is INCREDIBLY COMMON.
Prior to becoming a mom I had seasons of significant stress that were heading me towards burnout. Once I could get rid of the stressor like a relationship or job the tension would ease. But as a mom I can’t do that- kids are kind of permanent! Ha! And, it makes relieving stress complicated when it feels like there is no way out.
SO, what is mom burnout? According to Choosing Therapy, “Mom burnout is often characterized by the chronic stress and exhaustion related to relentless caregiving demands, and this epidemic is exceedingly high in women who have full-time careers or are without a co-parent. Mom burnout can lead mothers to feel ineffective and lacking confidence as parents, while simultaneously experiencing the pull to be a better parent amidst feelings of disconnect with their children”.
I feel this deeply for so many of you. I have received literally hundreds of messages in response to various posts letting me know how exhausted you are trying to do all the things while simultaneously keeping up with the latest trends on parenting.
By implementing a few lifestyle changes and habits, such as lowering your expectations and creating healthy boundaries, coping with mom burnout can become much more manageable.
How to Cope With Mom Burnout
Burnout is hard, but it’s also something that we can take control of by putting some simple strategies in place for ourselves. Without further adieu, here are my top 5 tips on how to cope with mom burnout!
Disclaimer: The following list of tips is not intended to replace critical supports like therapy or crisis response centres. If you are struggling to cope day-to-day, or think that you may need help, seek the help of a qualified health care professional – they were and are vital in my own journey, and are trained to find the right support for each person’s unique and individual care. If you are in crisis – know there are many compassionate and expert teams available to help you. If you need help you deserve it, and can get it.
#1 Lower Your Expectations to Cope With Mom Burnout
There is so much pressure on moms these days. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a working mom, or a work from home mom, we are met with so many unrealistic expectations put on us by society, social media, and even ourselves.
Step away when you can and create a list of what you value in your family as a mother. Then, focus on that. For example, if you value feeding your kids healthy food and getting some fresh air, find some realistic ways to achieve this and do what works for you.
‘Realistic’ looks different for everyone. It might be having a picnic lunch outside and opting for some fresh fruit, cheese and crackers instead of stopping at your local fast-food joint. Fresh air and healthy food achieved! Unrealistic might look like going on a hike with a baby and toddler and then preparing an all-organic plant-based meal with ingredients that aren’t a staple in your home.
DO. WHAT. WORKS. FOR. YOU. (And don’t beat yourself up about having fast-food… sometimes everyone’s mental health is worth the occasional burger and fries).
Need some ways to connect with your kids when experiencing burnout? I’ve got you mama:
5 Activities to do with kids for moms who are burnt out and exhausted.
#2 Set Boundaries to Cope With Mom Burnout
Setting boundaries is all the rage right now and there’s a reason: Many of us grew up as people pleasers who sacrificed our own wants and needs for those of others which we are NOW learning isn’t the greatest for our own well-being.
Good news: Setting boundaries is pretty simple. A boundary is basically a term that refers to who and what you allow in your space. This can be physically or emotionally.
How do you set boundaries?
Setting boundaries with your family might seem harsh, but imagine how much nicer you will be to be around with respected boundaries!
What boundaries might look like for you:
Say you are making dinner and your child is running around screaming happily and listening to ‘baby shark’ LOUDLY through a portable speaker, creating a stressful environment for you. (Hello, sensory overload!)
You can set a boundary by asking the child to bring the music and running elsewhere like this: “Hey Sally, I love that you’re having so much fun right now! It’s just a bit loud for mommy, and I need you to bring the music into your room or listen to music after dinner”.
Personally, when my family and I have been out for the day I get VERY overstimulated. My boundary is that when we get home, I need alone time in my room. My family quickly got used to this and I am a happier mom when I return after a little rest.
Remember also: Setting boundaries with friends, volunteer organizations and work are also ways to cope with exhaustion and burnout.
Still unsure of where to start? Check out my previous blog on setting boundaries with a loved one.
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#3 Calm Your Nervous System to Cope With Mom Burnout
The nervous system, particularly the vagus nerve, is so amazing and I highly recommend learning a little bit about it. Understanding how it works has in itself helped me with self-regulation by being able to recognize my triggers and how to get out of that fight-or-flight mode. For now, here are 2 ways that you can calm down your nervous system when you’re experiencing mom burnout.
- Sleep – I KNOW. I know. So many of us mamas are told to get enough sleep and it’s almost like, DUH, we know. We need something else. BUT. Just make sure you’re being honest with yourself when it comes to your sleep hygiene.
Do you drink coffee past 2:00pm? Are you in bed scrolling on your phone for an hour before bed? Have you established a nighttime routine for yourself? We don’t have much control over our kids being the reason we’re up at night, but taking a look at what we DO have control over and making some changes can be helpful.
- Breathwork. It’s not lame and it works. There are many breathwork methods out there, and you can try them out and see what works best for you. The one that is the easiest to remember for me is ‘Box Breathing’ where you allow the air to escape from your lungs, then breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, breathe out slowly for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and repeat. For more on how box breathing works, you can check out this article from the Cleveland Clinic.
Tip #4 for Coping with Mom Burnout: Do Something FUN!
I have realized over the years that I am the most irritable, easily overstimulated and prone to burnout when I haven’t made time for myself in a while.
Self-care is SO important. It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money or take up a lot of time, and you deserve to do things that make your heart sing! Guilt free! Mama, you’re worth it.If you need some ideas on how to get some self-care in, without loads of money and even without a support person, click here for my 50 Self-Care Tips for Busy Moms.
Tip 5 for Coping with Mom Burnout: Disconnect to Reconnect
‘Netflix and Chill’ and ‘The Scroll’ are terms many of us are all too familiar with. These actions are sometimes warranted and often all we feel capable of doing after a long day. The problem with resorting to screens is that we aren’t giving our brain the break it needs.
What I have found to be helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed and burnt out is to turn off the tv, turn off the news, and put my phone away. Instead, I have tried leaning into the needs of my body and mind. If my eyes are tired, maybe it’s time for a nap, or time for bed if it’s the end of the day.
See also: GO OUTSIDE.
If I feel confused or disorganized, a guided meditation or journaling exercise might help. Sometimes my body feels restless, like I just couldn’t relax if my life depended on it – these are the times movement might be just what I need and I’ll go for a walk, or do a quick online workout or yoga class.
Whatever the case is for you, do what feels right for YOUR body and mind.
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How to Cope With Mom Burnout: In a nutshell
Now you’ve got some tools under your belt to cope with mom burnout. Here are the 5 Tips to Cope with Mom Burnout in list form so you can copy and paste them into your notes or write them down to help you remember when emotions are flying:
- Lower expectations (Let go of the all or nothing mentality)
- Set Boundaries (What are you letting in your space?)
- Calm Nervous System (Box breathing)
- Have some FUN! (Do something, anything you enjoy)
- Disconnect to Reconnect ( – screen, ++ journaling, movement, sleep)
Please reach out and let me know if any of these tips worked for you.
Momming is hard and we need all the support we can get.
Thanks for including me in your village. If you’re not already, follow me on TikTok and Instagram @diaryofanhonestmom and make sure you sign up for The Honest Mom’s Insider Circle for more tips like these and much MUCH more.
It amazes me how much of ourselves we seem to “lose” as time goes on. Take a step back in time to pre-kiddos and start every sentence with “I am”. It goes like this. I AM the girl who loves to ride horses. I AM the girl who loves to camp, canoe, hike, etc. I AM the girl who loves to quilt. I AM that girl who loves adventure and white water rafting. I AM a mom, but I’m not just a mom. I AM all of those things above and I need to get some of ME back! Excuse me while I take a weekend off of my duties and float down the river in a canoe. I’m outta here!