Mom Burnout? Symptoms And Tips To Help You Feel Better (2023)
Mom burnout is an all-too-common experience that moms feel when their emotional reserves are depleted. Moms often feel like they aren’t doing a good job, and that there’s no end in sight to the daily demands that are placed on them.
Do you feel this way? Read to see if you are experiencing mom burnout. Then, find tips to start feeling more like the mom (and woman) you desire to be.
What does mom burnout feel like?
We are grateful to be parents. And we deeply love our kids.
But we also strive to do it all, and do it all well. Whether you work full-time outside the home or not, many mothers will feel burnout at some point. In March of 2022, 38% of moms reported feeling burnout. (source)
Similar to the workplace condition, parents feel intense exhaustion and disengagement with their kids.
Sheryl Ziegler, psychologist and author of the book Mommy Burnout, defines mom burnout “as the emotional and physical exhaustion that you feel from the chronic stress of parenting.”
Moms feel that they have to get it all done well without complaint or asking for help.
And if you are parenting a child with special needs, your risk of mom burnout may be even higher.
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama has discussed the ups and downs she faced when raising young children. “We don’t talk about how much work is required and how hard it is even when you are madly in love with the person (your spouse), even when everything works out right.” (source)
Without a doubt, being a mom is hard.
Mom Burnout Symptoms
What are the signs and potential symptoms of a burnt-out mom?
Consider whether you feel this way:
- Lack of physical energy and extreme mental fatigue
- Constantly feeling overwhelmed
- Not wanting to be social or participate in activities you used to enjoy
- Being “short-tempered”, yelling, or snapping easily
- Doubting or feeling guilty about your parenting decisions
- Feeling like you aren’t doing a good job as a parent
- Forgetting to prioritize yourself and your health
- Disconnecting from your partner
- Not enjoying time with your family. Wanting to hide away.
Mom burnout is unhealthy for us and for our kids.
But, instead of adding this to the list of things you feel guilty about, let’s look at tips that can help.
How Do You Recover From Mom Burnout?
Use these tips to help battle mom burnout and create healthier habits.
Connect With Others
Make it a priority to get together with friends again. Make time for one another. Take the steps needed to reach out and nurture these relationships.
Find women you can laugh with, talk to, and confide in frequently. Tell these friends the truth about your struggles and listen to them when they confide as well.
While you may already have great friends, also work to connect with your community and neighbors. Build a group that you trust and that you see in day-to-day life (school drop-off, kids activities, or at a gym class). Shared activities and interests provide an easy way to start conversations and make connections.
Get More Sleep
When my kids go to bed, I feel like I have time to do the things I want to do. Sometimes that includes staying up late watching Yellowstone with my husband. And while I enjoy that time, I don’t always get the sleep I need to feel revived in the morning.
The majority of parents are exhausted. In fact, each child in a mother’s household increases her risk of getting insufficient sleep by 46%. (source)
In her book, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids, Carla Naumburg notes that sleep deprivation affects our physical, mental, and emotional health. It makes it hard to make good choices and not be irritable. Without sleep, we become the worst versions of ourselves.
She promotes making sleep a priority with some basic steps.
- Stick to a schedule when possible.
- Get ready for bed before you are too tired.
- Turn off your screens before bed.
- Ditch the caffeine after 2 pm.
Be honest with yourself about the amount of sleep you are or are not getting. There will be nights with sick kids and sleep interruptions, but do what you can to give yourself the best shot at a full night’s rest.
This will help restore your emotions so you can better handle your child’s emotions.
Stop Making Comparisons
When I was a young mom, I had a good friend I compared myself to. It took me several years to realize that this wasn’t serving me. Her kids were completely different than mine and the added pressure I was putting on myself made me unhappy.
Setting mindful limits on social media usage can also help. While social media has its benefits, we often start to compare our lives with others.
Why does their house look so nice and clean?
They always look like they are enjoying fun activities with their kids.
How do you feel after scrolling through social media? It may be time to take a social media break. Shift your focus back to ways you enjoy spending your time instead. It will also help you slow down and be more present.
Dr. Danielle Kelvas, physician and mental health expert, recommends unplugging completely from social media. She also says, “take regular breaks away from your phone. Community heals anxiety and depression – true, authentic relationships. Spend more time with people you love, and less time on screens.”
Find out more about a social media detox challenge here.
Say No: Mom Burnout Tip
You control your own schedule. If you think something will bring you more stress, it likely will. Learn to say no. Prioritize what is important to your family and stick to those priorities when deciding what fits into your life.
If PTO isn’t your thing, don’t join. If you don’t know anything about soccer, don’t volunteer to coach. Don’t double-book yourself every night. Your kids will still thrive if they aren’t enrolled in every activity.
Saying no alleviates stress. Having downtime is actually okay, needed, and a great skill to teach your kids.
If you aren’t sure what to add to your schedule and what to leave behind, ask yourself:
“Is this opportunity or activity a “hell yes”?”
If not, it’s a no. Say no without guilt.
Take Planned Breaks
Regardless of what you may think, self-care is not selfish. It is a basic human need.
Make a paradigm shift. Realize that taking care of yourself is essential to your well-being and will help your kids too. It will make you a better mom and you will enjoy time with your family more.
Taking short breaks away can refresh and recharge you. Choose to do something that will feel good.
After school, everyone in my house is tired. By the time I start making dinner, I am worn. I have started going up to my bedroom to have 10 minutes of quiet before I begin cooking. It has made a huge difference in how I interact with my family the rest of the evening.
Choose from other self care ideas here or take a 30 day self care challenge to see what activities make you feel the best.
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.”– Katie Reed
Find Ways To Express Yourself
Creatively express yourself to help with stress management.
Journal to focus on gratitude or the positive things in your life. Paint, play an instrument, or practice any form of creativity that you enjoy.
Maintain A Spiritual Practice
Having a spiritual practice in whatever form works for you will help with mom burnout.
- Learn how to meditate daily.
- Take time to pray daily.
- Attend church or synagogue regularly.
- Join a mom’s group or a small group that meets to discuss life and faith.
- Give back to your community on a regular basis to boost emotional health.
Take Care of Your Body to Avoid Mom Burnout
I’m not referring to the impossible idea of looking perfect.
I am talking about taking time to move your body in a way that feels good to you. Take a walk, dance, or find a group fitness class that you enjoy.
Think of exercise as a stress reliever instead of a way to burn calories. Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits that help us cope in a healthier way.
Often when we are stressed, we gravitate toward food that isn’t great for us. Focus on eating as many whole foods as you can and drinking plenty of water. You will feel better all around.
Ask for Help And Learn How to Receive It
According to research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, the average mother spends twice as much time with her children than she did 50 years ago. (source)
We are also spending more time at work and do not live as close to extended family as was once the norm. This makes it harder to get practical support. We aren’t meant to raise children alone.
Recently, a friend told me she was going to bring my family dinner. I thanked her for the kind offer and turned her down! I missed an opportunity to receive help when I needed it. This is something to work on.
Learn how to ask for help and receive help when it is offered to you. And don’t feel bad about it.
Make Housework Easier
Do you feel like you can’t get it all done? Incorporate easy tips into your life to make your housework load seem lighter.
- My philosophy is that if you live in this house, you contribute to the household chores and duties.
- Plan a simple cleaning schedule or just do a little each day. It won’t all be clean at once, but you will feel good knowing that you accomplished a small task each day.
- If you can, hire someone to come in and help. Having a cleaning service even once a month will make a huge difference in your workload.
- Make meal prep easier by planning simple meals on rotation when possible. For example, we have Taco Tuesday every week and pizza every Friday.
- Use crockpot and instant pot dump-and-go recipes whenever you can.
- When making a meal, double the recipe and put it in your freezer.
- Order groceries online for pickup or delivery.
For more quick and healthy weeknight meals, look here.
- Do one load each day from start to finish.
- Your husband should be doing his own laundry and your kids can learn to do their laundry too.
I am not suggesting you go full Mario Kondo or organize and label everything in your house.
But take time to declutter a few things that make your home more enjoyable to live in. The extra ‘things’ you accumulate not only clutter your home but affect your mental health and lead to anxiety.
Make Your Spouse a Priority
Make it a goal to regularly connect with your partner.
Talk with one another daily and plan regular date nights. Date nights can happen anywhere and anytime and don’t have to require a ton of work.
Take a walk, have a date night at home, or do something together you both enjoy.
If you are a single parent, plan nights out regularly with friends to do the things that you enjoy.
Manage Your Expectations
When we think of all the things we ‘should’ be doing, we go down a rabbit hole that leads to anxiety.
Let go of some of the control, delegate to others, and lower your standards.
The house is going to get messy. Processed foods will be consumed. And TV is sometimes needed to get dinner on the table or for a much-needed break.
Practice self-compassion. Things don’t have to be perfect.
Plan Ways to Have Fun As A Family
Connecting with your kids can actually help you recharge. Plan an easy family dinner or movie nights. Laugh together and relax together.
If you are feeling like you want to provide the opportunity to have more positive moments and connect with your family, try some of these bonding activities.
Seek Help From a Professional
It’s always a good idea to seek help from a professional when other strategies aren’t working well. Talking to someone else could be what you need to feel good again as a mom.
Mom Burnout Quiz
Still wondering if you are in mom burnout? Take this quiz.
I took this short quiz and it told me I was in mom burnout. It actually made me feel validated for the feelings I was having. It also urged me to take steps to take better care of myself.
Since taking the quiz, I have:
- Planned time away from my family to recharge.
- Spoken to a professional about strategies for parenting my neurodivergent child.
- Taken time off of social media and worked to connect with friends more often.
- My husband and I completed a couples challenge to better connect with one another daily.
Mom Burnout Quotes
Practice talking to yourself with kindness and compassion. Enjoy these inspirational and humorous quotes when you need a boost.
1. “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”-Jill Churchill
2. “Some days the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy”-Unknown
3. “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”-Ann Lamont
4. “Behind every great child is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it all up.”-Unknown
5. “I always say if you aren’t yelling at your kids, you’re not spending enough time with them.”– Reese Witherspoon
6. “Stay at home moms feel guilty because they think they’re not doing enough. Working moms feel guilty because they think they’re not doing enough. Let go of the guilt. You are enough.”-Unknown
7. “Successful mothers are not the ones who have never struggled. They are the ones who never give up, despite the struggles.”-Sharon Jaynes
8. “And then one day we decided we were tired of sleeping in and doing whatever we wanted in a clean house, so we had kids.”-Unknown
9. “Moms- The only people who know the true meaning of 24/7.”-Unknown
10. “Your most valuable parenting skill is learning to manage yourself first.”-Dr. Laura Markham
<<Find more positive affirmations for moms here.>>
To Consider With Mom Burnout
We don’t have to live in a constant state of mom burnout.
And, you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be the best parent for your child.
Focus on all of the good you are doing and try some of these tips to help you avoid or get out of mom burnout. Find what works for you and keep doing it.
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