Inside: Being a mom is hard, but if you find yourself losing your cool, snapping at your kids, and dreading each new day more than you’d like to admit, do these 2 things to recover from mom burnout and learn the joy of being a mother (again).
After tucking my son into bed I sneak out the door as quietly as possible praying he doesn’t open his eyes.
Making it out the door, a sigh of relief escapes my lips as I crumple onto the couch.
After 8 long months of sleep deprivation, we’ve finally nailed down a bedtime routine that helps him sleep through the night.
Unfortunately, this week hasn’t been so peachy. Filled with illness and teething, sleep is a far off dream.
I get about 4.2 seconds of peace before the cries start up again and I’m forced to drag my depleted body off the couch and into my son’s room to try and distract him from the overwhelming pain in his mouth and convince him to drift back off to sleep.
After half an hour of rocking, hushing, and singing, he’s back to sleep and I can finally let my tired body mold back into the couch cushions.
After a minute of numbness, my mind starts to spin and the last few weeks play on repeat in my head. Being forced to watch my life like a movie is like watching the bad deleted scenes from a badly-made sitcom. Except the audience is me, and I’m not laughing. Instead, I’m hanging my head in shame at the way I’ve acted over the past week.
Wallowing in my self-pity I recount all the negative attitudes and thoughts I’ve had:
“He’s crying again. When will I get a break?”
“Can’t he just be a happy baby for two seconds while I get myself a cup of coffee?”
“Our house is such a disgusting mess. I hate this.”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
The overwhelming weight of my actions, thoughts, and attitudes makes me crumble. Why am I acting like this? Before becoming a mom, there was nothing in the world I wanted more than this.
Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mom after all.
“Moms in particular need to be 200% at everything. We need to give ourselves permission to be just ‘average’ at some parts of our lives and perhaps let other aspects go. That load of laundry can wait until tomorrow, as reading an extra bedtime story to your child is more important,” – Louise Sattler
These past few days I had been so focused on my mommy-do list – making it to appointments on time, running errands, cleaning up the house, feeding babies, changing poopy bums – that I had forgotten to take a moment to slow down and remember who I was.
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But Here’s the Problem With Mom Burnout
Showing love and appreciation to the people I love most when all I could feel was the devastating sensation of a never-ending list of to-dos left undone and like I was always going at 1,875 miles per hour was next to impossible.
It breaks my heart to pieces when I think of how poorly I’ve been treating my family. I hate that I get moments where I don’t enjoy motherhood or that thoughts like “I don’t want to be a mom anymore” even cross my mind.
My family deserves better than that. They deserve a mother who can give them their all, who can meet their needs, who can teach them how to be kind, loving, and compassionate even under pressure. My husband deserves a wife who puts him first and my children deserve a mom who will bend over backward to make sure they’re raised right.
So what if I can’t live up to that standard?
What happens on the days, weeks, and months when I have too much to do so I’m just coasting through the hours on survival mode and the loving sayings that our kids long and crave to hear are replaced with sharp tones and hurtful words?
Being a Mom is Hard
A recent study done on moms who had experienced mom burnout concluded that moms had a great sense of duty, were often in doubt of their own capabilities, and were incredibly self-demanding.
One surveyee said:
“I did not even believe that I could do better; I used to always question my very ability to get things right. I used to be always in doubt about myself, and therefore I would continue to seek to do more and better… all the time.” – Bénédicte
NCBI describes mom burnout as situations where exhaustion occurs as a result of being physically and emotionally overwhelmed by one’s parental role.
The mom burnout I had been feeling over the past weeks sent me straight into survival mode. I went from being a joyful and happy mom who loved what she did to being a drag, a pessimist, and struggling to find meaning in all the mundane daily tasks.
Parenting in today’s world puts a lot on our plates. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the daily struggles of being a mom that we forget who we really are.
From dealing with 19 toddler tantrums in a grocery store with a screaming baby on your hip, to trying to coax your teenager out of their room to spend time with the family, to making sure everyone is fed and making it to appointments on time, to folding laundry at the speed of light but still having a toddler unfold it faster, to convincing your strong-willed 3-year-old that they don’t need another chocolate bar while trying to steer them away from an hour-long outburst.
Because of everything that needs to get done, it makes sense that we would be stressed and overwhelmed moms who feel disconnected from their families.
“When the daily stress of parenting becomes chronic it can turn into parental burnout, an intense exhaustion that leads parents to feel detached from their children and unsure of their parenting abilities,” – Science Daily
The best possible solution for mom or parental burnout would be to avoid it altogether. But, what do you do when you’re smack-dab in the middle of a massive mommy burnout, you’re exhausted, and you’ve been awake for 72 hours straight. How can you recover from mom burnout with your dignity intact?
Here’s a Quick Fix for Every Busy + Burned Out Mom
Doing something for myself felt like a sin, but what I didn’t realize was that because I was constantly pouring myself out to others but wasn’t taking time to refill my soul, it was causing me to be burned out and to become someone I wasn’t.
Realizing this allowed me to give myself permission to slowly start being okay with doing something for me each and every day.
It wasn’t easy, and most days I would revert back to my old self that felt guilty for having 2.5 seconds to do something I enjoyed. Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to truly recover from mom burnout and get out of my mom funk, I needed to commit. If I truly wanted to learn how to like being a mom again, this was something I needed to do.
So, I came up with an acronym to help me avoid mom burnout…
How to Recover From Mom Burnout: The Power of REST
Emotional and physical exhaustion, chronic stress, constantly feeling tired, resenting your kid(s), feeling like a failure – all of these are signs of mommy burnout. When you start to feel them, use the acronym below to conquer mommy burnout.
When you feel the first signs of mom burnout, grab a bite to eat – because everything is easier on a full belly – and follow these steps:
- Reconnect. More often than not, mommy burnout is due partially by a disconnect in the family. Mothers feel so overwhelmed and stressed out by everything that needs to be done and by continually nurturing their families that they forget to take time to connect with them. When you feel on the brink of mommy burnout, stop what you’re doing, put away the phone, and spend a few minutes connecting with your child.
- Enjoy. No matter how hopeless, exhausting, or frustrating this moment and situation is, find something about it to enjoy. Daydreaming about a better time is doing you more harm than good, so find something to be grateful for right now.
- Self-care. Every day, do something for you to refresh and re-energize your soul. Whether you read a book for 5 minutes or take a 15-minute bath, find something that you can do to help you feel like yourself again.
- Time out. When you start to feel mommy burnout bubbling up, turn on a show for the kids and give yourself a 10- to 15-minute time out. Go into your room and close the door so you can take a few minutes to just breathe. Forget about your Mommy-Do list, forget about any obligations you have for the day, and just breathe, deep and slow. Stay here until you feel calmer and ready to face the situation and day with grace and patience rather than irritation.
As a mom, it feels wrong to take care of yourself before your children, but how are you supposed to pour love, kindness, and empathy into their lives if you’re running on empty?
“our child-centered society has lost sight of one of the most important ingredients for healthy, happy children – healthy, happy parents.” – The Globe & Mail
How to Recover From Mom Burnout with 2 Simple Solutions
Below, you’ll find two fundamental aspects of recovering from mommy burnout for the mom who is hiding in her room behind a locked door eating chocolate ice cream out of the bucket trying to ignore the never-ending “mommy?” “mom?” “mommy where are you?” coming from the other side of the door.
Here’s what you need to do to get back on your feet and recover from an epic mom burnout…
1. Give Yourself a Time Out
How to do it:
- Explain to your kids that they aren’t allowed to come get mommy unless it’s an emergency (then explain what an emergency is)
- Turn on a show for them
- Set a 10-minute timer
- Go into your room & close the door
- Follow the steps below
You need to give yourself a time out, mama. If you want to recover from this mom burnout instead of continuing driving yourself further and further into bitterness, resent, and anger, you need to give yourself a time out.
I know what you’re thinking…
“You don’t know my kids. THEY are the ones who need a time out.”
But hear me out. A mommy time out isn’t such a bad thing. Instead, it gives you the power to respond to the situations that have been driving you over the edge for the past week with grace and understanding.
Instead of snapping due to draining yourself day after day to raise up strong, resilient children and having no you left, giving yourself a mommy time out will help you take a break.
Then go do something for you so that you can fill up your emotional and mental tank so that you have value to pour into your children’s tanks.
Our children are watching our every move, every emotion, and every action. And they’re learning to act and respond to situations by the way they see their parents respond.
Kids need a mom who can be herself, and the only way to truly be yourself is to take care of you.
Taking care of oneself is something we women do to the best of our ability when we’re pregnant, but as soon as we hear that first cry from our baby, all emotional, mental, and physical work and care is transferred from us to baby.
“[my mother] told me that the best gift that I could give my family is a whole mom: A woman that liked herself, knew herself and respected herself enough to experience her own life.” – Mia Redrick
If you want to be the best mom you can be, take care of yourself. Here are a few ideas of things to do during your mommy time out to refill your tank and take care of yourself so you have what you need to raise up strong, kind, and caring children.
- Make a gratitude list. A gratitude list will remind you to find things to be grateful for right here, right now, because studies show that daydreaming of a better time may actually make you more miserable in the present moment. Try to list 5 – 10 different things every day that you’re grateful for, then take time throughout the day to appreciate them (get a personal journal for this).
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier. Sleep is important in a mother’s life, so if you need to, try getting everyone into bed 10 minutes earlier at night so that you can wake up 10 minutes before everyone else in the morning. Having just those few minutes to wake up with no whining, crying, or questions will start your day off on the right foot.
- Ask yourself, “what makes me happy?”. Then write it down. It might seem ridiculous to ask yourself what really gets your elated juices flowing, but when you stop to think about it – do you really know what makes you happy? Learn where you find joy, then make an effort to do more of that every day.
- Read. If reading is your cup of tea, use your 10-minute time out to lock yourself in your room and lose yourself in a book.
- Move your body. Exercising has endless benefits, like keeping your body healthy and boosts your dopamine and serotonin – your happy hormones. Escaping when there’s no one else to watch the kids isn’t an option, and spending 45 minutes getting all the kids ready to go on a walk isn’t going to help fill up your tank at all. So you could either wait until dad gets home to watch the littles or call up a babysitter.
- Have a nap. Sometimes all we need is a quick 10-minute nap to restart the system and get the energy boost we’re looking for.
- Take a shower. Turn on a show for the kids and sneak off to the bathroom for a relaxing bath or shower.
- Anything else you enjoy.
Doing one thing that makes you smile every day will help you feel better about yourself and your parenting.
“It is not a badge of honor to say you sacrifice everything for your family and put yourself last. Self-care and ‘me’ time are so, so important to avoid parental burnout,” – Nikki Little
Kids are like parched sponges that get placed in a puddle. Their parents are the water and you get to determine whether they’ll become kind, caring, and nurturing children and adults or if they will shape into harsh, irritable, and ungrateful humans.
2. Mommy-Don’t List
What you need:
- Pencil or pen
- Paper (or this)
- Permission (from yourself)
More times than not, parental burnout is self-induced due to the unrealistic standards and impossibly high expectations we place on ourselves.
There’s always something that needs to be done and if we have 5 minutes of spare time during the day, we clearly aren’t doing enough.
This is why I believe that instead of filling up a to-do list and checking it twice, we make a Mommy-Don’t list. You don’t need to write it down on a pretty piece of paper or write it down at all. It doesn’t have to have checkboxes and it doesn’t matter if you lose it.
A Mommy-Don’t list is ultimately you giving yourself permission to let some things go.
Permission to let something slide today. Find something on your to-do list (whether you have a physical list or a nagging agenda in your mind) and erase it.
Give yourself permission to do less today.
Doing this will go against every hair on your head and skin cell on your body. As human beings, we feel the need to do more, not less. But doing more and more stuff every day may be the reason why you’re feeling so burned out as a mom these days. This mindset of more, more, more, is causing more harm than good.
You don’t need to make a “Mommy-Don’t List” every day, but to get into the habit of filling your days with only the crucial things and letting the rest go, for the next 3 days, write out a “Mommy-Don’t List”.
Put things on this list that you aren’t going to worry about doing. Maybe you’ll leave the laundry in the hamper for today and deal with it tomorrow. Maybe you’ll cancel one of the 6 playdates you had planned for this week. Or maybe today you won’t spend 2 hours making a healthy dinner but will throw frozen pizzas in the oven instead.
Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Permission to do less, so that you have the ability to give more of yourself to your kids.
>> Get Your Free Checklist
Want to stop yelling and start bonding with your kids? Sign up to my newsletter and get the free printable checklist.
- Download the checklist. Download the Calm Mom Checklist: The Tantrum Prone Mom’s Guide to Staying Calm when you sign up for my newsletter. Download and join here.
- Print it off. Print off the checklist and place it somewhere easy to see and easy to access.
- Use it. Whenever a situation arises that causes you to lose your cool, look over at your checklist and remind yourself how to act calmly, instead of throwing a fit.
How to Recover From Mommy Burnout… Your Turn
Have you ever experienced mom burnout? What are your best tips for recovering from parental burnout and finding yourself again? Feel free to share your tips in a comment below.