Life looks a lot different for mothers everywhere these days. In the pandemic age, moms have often been separated from their support network, their extended family, and their “village” that enables them to survive the wild ride of parenthood. Social isolation, job loss, or sickness can push mothers into an exhausted, depressed state that is difficult to come out of. Even though society has changed dramatically for the time being, it’s still important that moms not take care of their little ones, but they also take care of themselves!
What exactly is “burnout,” and how does it apply to moms?
Burnout, although common in the workforce, can also happen to stay at home moms (and working moms!). Burnout refers to the feeling of absolute physical and mental exhaustion that stems from chronic stress - and we all know parenting is a stressful job! Burnout can be affected by factors such as sleep, but oftentimes, burnout occurs no matter how much rest you get at night. Moms that feel burnout might describe their attitude as being “done,” just tired of daily stresses that happen when you’re around young children. From school meetings to packing lunches, to breastfeeding an infant, to handling sibling arguments, to doing endless loads of laundry, to carpooling to after school sports leagues, to cooking dinner, to being a happy and enthusiastic spouse - it shouldn’t be surprising that many mothers end up feeling utterly overwhelmed at some point.
Since moms can’t exactly just give up parenting duties for any extended amount of time, is it even possible to avoid facing burnout?
The good news is, it is indeed possible, and it comes when you set firm boundaries for your life and acknowledge what your values, dreams, and goals are. Here are some pointers for avoiding burnout in your own life.
Burnout doesn’t look the same for everyone. The most common symptoms of burnout include anxiety, depression, hopelessness, irritability, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, excessive crying, excessive worrying, and mood swings. It’s the constant feeling like you’re “at the end of your rope,” and you’re unsure of how to feel any different. It’s the point where the joys and wonder of motherhood give way to the robotic motions of mom-life (cooking, cleaning, bedtime duties, repeat forever). The first step to overcoming burnout is to figure out how exactly it manifests in your own life.
Don’t become that person that says “yes” to everything without careful consideration. Just because one of the moms in your child’s playgroup happily shuffles her children from activity to activity and cooks all her meals from scratch, doesn’t mean that’s necessarily going to work in your own life - or should even be something you aspire to. Don’t fall prey to the comparison trap, either. Just because your friend’s 3-year-old has a private tutor who teaches her 3 languages doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Just because your daughter’s best friend’s mom goes to yoga classes 4 times a week doesn’t mean you need to. Set clear boundaries by first identifying what you value. Do you value health and wellness? Then make it a priority to spend time meal planning, shopping for healthy ingredients, and teaching your children how to cook. Do you value quality family time? Then designate a day of the week where you order pizza and watch a movie together. Do you value creativity and exploration? Then take some time to plan weekend trips or even day trips to cities you’ve never visited before. And then what? Say no to the things that don’t matter to you.
There’s only one way to combat burnout: through self care. Self care can come in many forms, and might vary from person to person, but the bottom line is that self care is absolutely essential to living a fulfilled life. One simple way to practice good self care is by getting enough sleep - which can be difficult with small children! As much as you can manage, try to get an adequate amount of rest, even if that means leaving the dishes in the sink for a few more hours so you can take a nap while your baby naps. Another good way to practice self care is by saying no. Identify whether the activity is something you need to do, something you want to do, or whether it gives you energy or drains you. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be another pathway to self care. Perhaps just as important as sleep habits are eating habits. Eating a well-balanced diet can help improve your overall mood. Don’t deny yourself treat foods, but save those for special occasions and make sure you eat plenty of fresh produce and high protein foods. And lastly, when all else fails, nothing beats picking up the phone and calling a friend. There’s nothing like commiserating and laughing with a good friend. Keep your village close, even when you can’t physically be together! ,
Self care is not selfish, it’s essential to avoiding burnout. The only way to avoid feeling completely overwhelmed and under-motivated is to stop living your life with you as a mere passenger. Figure out what brings you joy, what brings you peace, and what inspires you, and carve out time in your life to pursue it. And a once-a-month massage appointment isn’t going to cut it. Self care should be a daily activity, one that you prioritize!
This week on the KeaBabies Instagram Stories (@KeaBabies), we shared a few of these tips for avoiding “mommy burnout.” If you want to find more helpful advice to propel you along this difficult journey called parenthood, be sure to add us on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the conversation!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
|I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.|