So you’ve been doing all the things, and maybe even rocking at it. But now you find yourself struggling to do even the simplest of mom tasks. You feel like you’re failing as a mom, and you know that you’ve reached the tipping point. You just need to know how to recover from mom burnout, and you needed that info like last month.
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There’s hope for you.
What is mom burnout?
Mom burnout is when you’re tired of motherhood. You need a break. You can’t keep going on like this. You have so much to do and don’t know how you’re supposed to get it all done. Same s***, different day. Day after day after day.
You might be angry. You might be depressed. You might be weepy. You might have a strong case of the stay at home mom blues. It’s all a part of this awful condition called mom burnout.
Mom burnout is more common among stay at home moms who are stuck with their children what seems like every single moment, awake or asleep, but it can also happen to moms who work outside the home, moms who take the summer off to spend with their children, single moms… basically any mom can experience mom burnout.
For a more detailed description about what mom burnout is, how it happens, and how to prevent it, check out this post. You’ll get a better understanding of how an overwhelmed mom becomes a totally burnt out mom.
What causes mom burnout?
If I had to point to one thing, I’d say the cause of mom burnout is expectations. We place too many expectations on ourselves. Others place too many expectations on us. We try to meet those expectations, even if they are unrealistic.
But aside from expectations, there are several things we can point to that contribute to moms feeling like they are constantly doing things yet never doing enough.
Here are the causes of mom burnout:
- feeling like a failure
- running on empty
- feeling stuck
- not getting a break
- unchecked depression
- bottling up your feelings
- loss of identity
- low self-worth
- internalizing judgment other people pass
- not getting enough sleep
- not feeling “lucky” when you “should”
- lack of adult socialization
- no time to care of yourself
- lack of purpose
- lack of balance
- not having enough money
I could probably go on and on with this list, but the short and skinny of it is that moms are constantly busy. And it doesn’t matter if that’s busy wiping noses, walking the dog, making doctor’s appointments, cooking meals, or washing dishes that were literally just washed. It’s work. It all adds up.
The stressors in life add up. And it snowballs. One thing goes wrong and suddenly it’s snowballing like crazy.
How do I recover from mom burnout?
Mom burnout is no fun. You struggle with feeling overwhelmed and not wanting to do a thing, yet you also feel shame for feeling the way you do. You feel guilt for not being overjoyed with your life as a mom. Of course you want to know how to recover from mom burnout! Who wouldn’t?
Here are some practical tips that will help you fix mom burnout and keep it at bay:
1. Give Yourself A Time Out
First you need to take a second to yourself. Think about what you want your life to look like. Reflect on all the things that you are doing on a day to day basis. Consider what things you can stop doing, and what things are really, truly important.
2. Prioritize Self-Care
Realize that you are important. You are worthy of time to yourself. You NEED self-care.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to carve out some time for YOU. Fill your cup, so that you can continue pressing on.
Take a little time for yourself so that for a few minutes you won’t resent always taking care of others.
Maybe instead of watching your son’s karate practice, you can quickly get something done for yourself. A pedicure one day, a manicure another. A bikini wax. A nap in the car. A yummy slice of pizza from your favorite restaurant without any kids nagging at you. A walk in a nearby park. Some time to journal or listen to a podcast free from interruptions. A quick workout at a nearby gym.
3. Let Go Of Unrealistic Expectations
Recognize that you can’t do everything. Realize that you were never meant to.
Drop the expectations that others have of you. Drop the expectations that you put on yourself.
When you expect to be able to do everything for everyone, you end up neglecting yourself. You get the short end of the stick. And it becomes a vicious cycle.
4. Start Keeping A Planner
When you keep a planner, you quickly realize that the hours in the day are very limited. You quickly understand just how much you do, and why you’re finding it hard to get everything done.
Planners can help you to be happier, because you get a realistic view of time and they can also help you to stay on track. Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting out the hours we typically waste on social media. That alone can give you more time to spend doing things that help you find more joy in life.
The Clever Fox Planner will help you to be more productive as well as feel accomplished for how much you are getting done. It’s a weekly/monthly calendar which is perfect for most moms.
If you find that you are so busy that planning out every second of your day would benefit you more, then the Power Place Lion Planner is perfect for you. It is a daily/weekly/monthly calendar that allows you to plan by the hour. It is the planner I use since I found it extremely difficult to even remember all the things I needed to do.
As a super busy mom running multiple businesses, always helping others with their own projects, and trying to keep track of my son’s life (especially after COVID-19 arrived), this planner has been a necessity.
5. Learn To Say No
You need to set boundaries.
You know that it will be next to impossible to complete that task by tomorrow. So say no. Or say you’ll see if you can squeeze it in by next week.
Stop making promises that are going to cause your heart to race while you lose sleep panicking over if you can actually meet the deadline.
Stop adding tasks to your ever growing to-do list that are only going to cause you stress.
Estimate double the time for anything someone asks you to do (because kids!), and see if it is still worth adding it to your schedule after that.
It’s OK to say no. Those who care about you will understand. They will want the best for you!
6. Ask For Help & Delegate
Those who care really do want the best for you. So don’t be afraid to ask for help! Let your significant other know that you need some time to yourself. Maybe you’ll start with 15 minutes a day, and slowly work that up to 1 hour per day.
Maybe you need a more gradual shift, or just a weekend evening out with friends.
Only you know what you need, so YOU have the responsibility to let others know.
And delegate! Don’t feel like you have to do it all. Don’t feel like things have to be perfect. As soon as your child is old enough, enlist their help with common tasks. Loading the dishwasher, feeding the dog, adding water to the dog’s water bowl, swiffering up spills, are all things that kids can help you with.
You don’t have to do it all. Give the kids chores. It will help them develop into responsible human beings, and recognize that it takes an entire family to make a household run.
And you’ll get a little taste of freedom.
7. Put The Kids On A Schedule
Putting my son on a schedule was the best thing I ever did.
At first it was a bit annoying. He complained that he had to follow a schedule. He complained that it wasn’t fair. He insisted that it was a punishment even though I reiterated that it’s to help us have better days.
But now I love it. And he secretly loves it even though he still whines a bit now and then.
His art skills have improved by leaps and bounds, because when he wakes up doing art for an hour is one of the first things on his schedule. He hurries to complete his work because he knows he can get extra gaming time the quicker he gets it done.
The whining about math has gone down. There’s still some there, but baby steps.
But most importantly, my stress levels have gone down. I am able to do my schedule, because he has his schedule of things to do. I am able to shift blame to the schedule, because the schedule says it’s time to do x, y, z.
8. Carve Out Time To Cuddle
With all this scheduling, don’t forget to carve out time for your family. Although you’re feeling burnt out, you’re going to feel much worse if everyone feels like you’ve totally checked out. I know it’s probably tempting to do so, but make time for your family.
Cuddling with the kids and your significant other will help you in two ways:
- Touch is healing. Whether it’s a pet, child, or another loved one, touch has the power to reduce stress. Physical touch results in the release of endorphins that can help you to feel happier.
- Physical touch will make your children and significant other happier and less stressed. It will help them to feel loved with minimal effort. In the case of your children, this can result in less whining and more cooperation. In the case of your significant other, it can result in less nagging and them being more willing to help you find time for yourself.
Cuddling, even if it’s just hanging out and watching a movie, can help everyone get their needs met without strenuous effort.
9. Keep A Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal will help you to think of all the things that are going right in your life that you can be grateful for. Sometimes it is hard to see any sunlight in the midst of a fog, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t glimmers of light all around you.
Practicing gratitude can help you to reduce stress and feel happier, and it can also help you to think more clearly and come up with solutions to simplify your life and therefore be less stressed overall.
10. Start Meditating
Meditation can really help change your mental state.
It can help you let go of the need for control.
It can help you be less anxious.
It can even help you to have calmer children.
Guided meditations can help you by providing a script to change the story in your mind. You can take time to relax and change your mindset on your own, or alongside your children.
Meditation can help you get better sleep, be more focused, and reduce feelings of sadness.
Exercise is similar to meditation in the sense that it can help you with focus, feelings of sadness, and sleep.
Exercise can also help you to feel better about yourself, your capabilities, and your body. It can help you to lose weight and get in good physical shape. It can also be a fun activity to do with your children or significant other.
There are fun exercises you can do at home, and also exercise groups specifically for moms with children. Find out what’s available in your area and what would work with your schedule.
12. Get Out More
Staying at home all the time can be a bore. Sometimes a change of scenery can go a long way.
Maybe you can make a commitment to visit the local park more, or to take your children to the beach. Salt water is particularly healing and the kids may sleep better after water play. My son used to always sleep well after playing in the pool for a while. These sleep tips for children might also be helpful for you, since you’re more likely to sleep well if your children do.
Even if you just take walks around your neighborhood, you might feel a noticeable improvement in your mood. Getting sunlight and fresh air on a daily basis can really do wonders!
13. Learn Something New
Find a new hobby. One that is just for you. One that will make you happy to your core.
You might feel lost and wonder what kind of hobby you can do. I’m sure you can think of something!
My hobbies that I find enjoyable include:
- fermenting food
- writing (I blog and also write poetry)
- creating graphics (I love making Pinterest pins and make them for my own blog + several other blogs my family and friends own)
- coloring (I mostly use the Happy Color app but sometimes use crayons in a kids coloring book)
- trading stocks (I like option plays, but this takes focus and I don’t have as much time as I like to dedicate to that right now)
- helping others (I have to be careful with this one as it’s easy to get overwhelmed)
- re-watching Disney movies (I’m partial to Tarzan and Moana, and yes my son complains! Who told him to count each time I watch them???)
- listening to podcasts and books on Audible. I just don’t have enough time to read books like I used to. But Audible makes tit possible to listen while I drive, cook, shower, etc.
You might not like anything on that list, but there are so many different hobbies you can try. Maybe you even have an old hobby you would enjoy picking up again.
If not, you can check out one of the following hobbies:
- mountain biking
Many of these can be done with the kids around. For example, you can find joy in taking amazing photographs of your children and then making a scrapbook to memorialize those precious moments you capture.
Some of these hobbies can also be monetized to help you create an income stream that can improve your lifestyle or fund your new-found obsession.
The important part of picking a hobby is to choose something you find fun and relaxing, even if it takes some time to perfect your skill.
14. Discover Your Purpose
If you’re feeling lost and like you don’t have much reason to eist besides taing care of your cldren, then you probably need some help discovering your purpose.
Rest assured that just being a mom is more than enough.
BUT, if you’re feeling like something is missing from your life, then maybe you need to go on a little self-discovery adventure. Self-discovery can be a very fun process, so don’t feel scared or intimidated. You might find that you want to start a little business, perhaps one your child can be involved in!
You can find out what material I recommend for finding purpose in your life in this post about how to enjoy life as a stay at home mom.
15. Take Longer Showers
My sister was just telling me a story about how I used to take long showers every time she watched my son when he was a baby. I don’t remember that at all, but I suppose it was my way of de-stressing. She said she was mentioning it to a friend and the same friend brought it up a few years later after her own sister had a baby. Is this something that all moms do?
It made me chuckle, because I know that long showers are very soothing for me. I am one of those in the shower, out the shower, gotta go go go type of people, so the only time I really take long showers is when I’m feeling stressed.
And I imagine I just stand there staring at the wall with the water running.
If you’ve never tried it, maybe you might find it helpful, too. Spend a little more time in the shower and imagine your stresses being washed off of you and going right down the drain.
16. Disregard The Judgment
It’s easy to judge yourself and the way you feel. It’s easy to feel guilty because you should be “living the life” since you’re a stay at home mom. Disregard the negative feelings you have towards yourself. Pay no mind to those who think you must be so lucky because you don’t have to work a conventional job.
Just remember that they haven’t walked a step, let alone a mile, in your shoes.
Nobody knows your story but you.
Let go of the judgement and allow yourself to feel all the feelings you have. Take note of which ones are true about yourself and which ones are a result of being overwhelmed. Make a plan to change the negative feelings into positives, and also to find ways to increase the positive feelings you have about yourself and your life.
17. Rest Up
Last but definitely not least, prioritize sleep. Use that planner to ensure that you are getting to bed at a decent hour, preferably before 10PM. When we don’t go to sleep by 10PM, we open our body up to dysfunctional sleep patterns.
We open the door to adrenal fatigue.
We encourage unhealthy sleep-wake patterns and therefore don’t get restful sleep, even if we “think” we slept a decent amount of hours.
Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on our mental state and mood. Fixing this ONE thing can really do wonders to help in the recovery from mom burnout.
Follow these tips to recover from mom burnout.
You don’t have to be a Saint and keep neglecting your needs.
You don’t have to push through feeling overwhelmed and operate in a constant state of stress. You can start taking steps to reduce the stress and get your life back on the right track.
You deserve to find happiness in your daily life. And your kids deserve a happy mom, too!