This is a guest post written for the Koala Mom.
Motherhood is arguably the most rewarding role any woman would ever have. However, it comes with a lot of responsibility and challenges. Once you step into motherhood, you stop being independent and instantly become responsible and accountable for your little one. When you add other kids to your family, the responsibility and accountability only add up.
It can be a handful even when you have support. So many tasks still fall squarely on you. Between juggling motherhood, being a partner, sister and daughter, and probably working part-time or full-time too, it can all be draining and overwhelming, which often leads to mom burnout.
In my work as a psychologist, I have worked with clients who have battled mom burnout. It always appears normal in the beginning, but if not worked on, it can become chronic and lead to other problems. Read on to understand what mom burnout is and how you can tell if you have it. In addition, if you have the signs, I will tell you how you can win against it.
What is mom burnout?
Mothers are natural caregivers. You will be up and down taking care of the kids, being a playmate, creating schedules, cleaning messes, and much more. When the little ones sleep and you think that you can catch some rest as well, you remember that you still have to clean up toys and complete other tasks. Unfortunately, in the midst of all these sacrifices, you forget to take care of yourself. Eventually, you start feeling tired and exhausted around the clock and sleep-deprived. In addition, you feel lonely and unaccomplished. The longer you stay this way, the closer you are to having burnout.
In a nutshell, mom burnout is the state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion as a result of staying out of balance for way too long.
Related: 4 Health Check-ups Every Mom Needs Regularly
What are the signs of mom burnout?
The number one step to deal with mom burnout is to avoid getting there. When you know the signs to look out for, you can make changes early enough to avoid going down that route that leads to it. Ideally, burnout presents differently with different personalities. However, there are some common signs for most people. Here are some signs that you should keep an eye out for.
1. Excessive yelling at your children
When dealing with the chaos of raising young ones, there will be occasional yelling here and there. In normal times, the yelling is controlled and you soon snap out of it. When you have mom burnout, the yelling is more than the occasional. You yell at your kids with the slightest trigger or provocation. In addition, sometimes it can even turn chaotic and out of hand.
2. Excessively emotional
There are days that you will happily clean up messes that your children create. Then there are days that the sight of a mess will make you weepy. If you find yourself becoming easily weepy even for the smallest things, you are most likely burnt out.
3. You feel empty inside
When you get to the burnout state, you start feeling as if you have given your all and there is nothing else left to give. You feel overwhelmed such that you start neglecting some tasks. For instance, cleaning up the house can become the last thing on your mind such that your house is constantly unkempt.
4. You feel lonely, with no urge to socialize
When you are going through a rough patch, it is easy to think that you are the only one going through the situation. You feel as if the people around you aren’t doing enough to support you and you can even start to resent them. When you are burnt out, you can feel the disconnect, but the urge to reach out to other people is just not there.
5. Your health takes a back seat
When you are burnt out, you are technically stressed out. Unfortunately, in this state, the last thing to think about is yourself. It becomes easy to let go of your usual healthy habits. You no longer exercise or eat healthy and you sleep either a lot or too little. In general, you are too exhausted to stay in touch with your health.
How to overcome mom burnout
The truth is that mom burnout can be ugly. The good news is that it is easy to come out of it and start enjoying motherhood once again. Of course, it is a journey where you have to constantly make a decision to walk every single day. Here are some of the ways that have helped my clients manage and get out of mom burnout.
1. Ask for help
The problem with most moms is that they will be the last to ask for help. This comes from the notion that they can do things better and faster than anyone else can. However, trying to do everything yourself every day only makes you hit burnout sooner and stay in it longer.
Normalize asking for an extra hand from people around you. Let your partner take care of some tasks for you. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to come in once a week. If you have older kids, let them babysit the younger ones as you take care of other tasks. If you have parents or siblings in town, ask them to take the kids out for a bit so you can take a break.
2. Create a schedule
When you create a schedule for napping and mealtimes, the kids are accustomed to the structure. You find that these things happen without a fight. In addition, it becomes easy to identify the cause of a tantrum if it happens around the scheduled time. This makes it easier for you to handle it.
Most importantly, a schedule helps you plan your free time for other things. For instance, if you are a nurse studying for the NCLEX RN exam, you can plan your study time around the time that the babies take a nap or the toddler attends preschool. The quiet time helps you concentrate on your study, which is necessary for you to pass.
3. Put yourself first
This can be difficult for most moms. However, the truth is that you will be in a better position to care for your kids when you are whole. Ensure that you exercise regularly, eat healthy, get enough rest/sleep and take care of your mental health at all times.
You might even engage in some hobby, such as filling your notebooks with your thoughts and feelings, producing songs with music-making software, growing plants in your indoor garden, and so on. If you have a work-at-home business, you may want to consider renting a part-time office, such as these coworking spaces in Chicago that offer a quiet, productive place to work.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
The internet is full of moms who post their picture-perfect kids looking as if they have everything together. If you compare yourself to such, you will always feel like a failure in your duty as a mom. Be confident that you are doing a good job in parenting. Sure, there will be struggles, but you have what it takes.
5. Consider therapy
Sometimes all you need is someone to pour out your feelings and stresses. Find a good psychologist or therapist to help you find ways to reduce stress and cope with the challenges of motherhood.
Mom burnout isn’t a place you would like to be in your motherhood journey. Yet, it hits many moms regardless of who they are. Your first line of defense is to prevent it from happening to you. The best way you can do this is to look out for signs such as those listed above. If you find yourself headed to that route, do something to redeem yourself. If you are already battling it, try the above solutions to get yourself out of it.
Have you faced mom burnout in the past? What helped you overcome it?
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