All moms may face feelings of burnout from time to time. It’s part of the territory of the intensity of the demands of parenting. Helpguide.org defines burnout as “a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” As joyful as parenting can be, it certainly can bring excessive and prolonged stress with it!
Burnout is more than just stress, however. If you’re feeling burned out, most likely you feel exhausted most of the time, a lack of motivation, disconnected from others and a sense of purpose, and possibly a lower sense of self-worth. As a mom, burnout can make you feel like you’re just going through the motions, and it may even become more difficult to feel emotionally connected to your child, even if you’re able to fully care for all of their needs.
To move beyond burnout, you’ll need more than just a few quick moments of relaxation. If you know or suspect that you’re experiencing burnout, consider taking the following steps:
- Take your experiences seriously. Feelings of burnout may pass on their own, but often intentional efforts are needed to move beyond burnout. If you’re starting to feel burned out, give yourself a reasonable timeline to see if the feelings will pass on their own, such as a week or two. If you reach your deadline and haven’t noticed an improvement, consider what additional steps you may need to take to more intentionally address these feelings.
- Lean into your social support network. Often, burnout is the result of people carrying more responsibilities than they can manage on their own. So, if you’re experiencing burnout, reach out to friends, family members, and your spiritual community for support. If you have a supportive spouse or partner, ask them to help carry more of the parenting and household responsibilities, even if for just a short period of time while you can rest and recover. Don’t be afraid to let others know you are overwhelmed–most likely, others will relate to your experiences and be happy to help.
- Seek professional help. When life becomes overwhelming, a professional counselor or therapist can help you identify new solutions and learn new ways of understanding and responding to your emotions. Look for a counselor who is experienced in working with parenting and family issues.
- Take care of yourself physically. Many moms sacrifice their own healthy habits to care for their children. Especially when children are very young, good sleep can be hard to come by, and kids at all ages keep their parents so busy that it can be hard to find time to prepare nutritious meals and get exercise. However, over time, neglecting your health can wear you down even further. Therefore, if you’re feeling burned out, consider ways to increase your physical health, such as by getting more rest, making time for exercise, and learning how to prepare nutritious, quick meals and snacks.
- Take time for reflection and personal growth. Burnout often is a sign that you’re feeling unfulfilled by your current life circumstances. It also can indicate that you previously held expectations that haven’t been met, so it may be time to readjust your expectations so that they are more achievable. Do what you can to create time in your life for quiet reflection, such as through meditation, prayer, or journaling. This time can help you evaluate what you may want to add (e.g., a new work opportunity or more time for friendships) to your life that is missing currently, or perhaps other things you want to cut out from your life (e.g., expectations about keeping a super-clean house) to help you make the most of your current life circumstances and find as much fulfillment in them as you can.
With all the demands that moms face in their day-to-day lives, it’s understandable why burnout can develop. Although burnout may be a normal experience among busy moms today, it’s important to take it seriously and reach out for help and take intentional steps to move beyond burnout when it arises. If you or someone you care about is facing burnout, consider the best steps to take to learn and grow from it, while also renewing and recharging to move toward greater energy and fulfillment in all areas of life.