The trap is so easy to fall into. As moms, it feels like we do everything. Gestate the baby, birth the baby, feed the baby, wear the baby…mom burnout makes sense in the early years, because our children are basically an extension of our own bodies. As the years go on, even when other family members can chip in more and more, the child’s needs change but the demand stays the same. In fact, it probably increases, just in different ways.
We give and give; from the moment we conceive our bodies begin to prioritize our children first. But it’s not sustainable. At some point, mom burnout really sets in. We simply can’t be everything to everyone all the time.
Moms with Burnout
Anyone can burn out. There isn’t a mom (or dad, or even kid) among us who can keep going all the time without ever hitting a limit. The problem isn’t knowing that we’re susceptible, but admitting when we’re nearing that ceiling. Some situations that might take us to mom burnout level:
- First time moms trying to juggle it all
- “Veteran” moms who haven’t had a break
- Moms of multiple little ones
- Moms of bigger kids with many activities
- Moms who work outside of the home
- Moms who keep up with a home, seemingly (or really) by themselves
- Single moms
- Moms with relationship problems
- Moms with normal relationship challenges
- Moms who have no help
- Moms who have too much “help”
- Moms caregiving for an older family member
- Special needs moms
- Homeschool moms
- PTA moms
- Moms helping kids with homework and school events
- Foster moms
- Adoptive moms
In other words, we are all susceptible. If you aren’t on that list, it’s only because I stopped listing. You, me, and all of us can burn out. We have to recognize it in ourselves and begin to heal it.
Obvious signs of burnout include being exhausted, moody, and losing interest in doing all the things. But watch out for other internal things like weight fluctuation, being stiff and sore, and catching every little cold you’re exposed to. When we’re stressed out to the point of burnout, the immune (and inflammation) system isn’t working optimally either.
In other words, we can’t just ignore it and hope we get past it. Our bodies know when enough is enough and will begin to tell us. The question is whether we will listen.
Healing Mom Burnout
Before self-diagnosing “burnout” and seeking healing, first rule out postpartum depression. This can occur even a year or more after birth. And of course, regular depression can be a culprit as well. If you suspect depression, talk with your care provider quickly to make sure you address it fully.
With depression ruled out, the next step is to acknowledge that your mind, body, and health are worth prioritizing. I don’t mean to exclude the papas in this post, because everyone is susceptible to overworking and over-stressing. But mamas are hardwired from the beginning to put their little ones first.
When we have morning sickness and can’t eat well, our babies get our nutrition stores. When we are exhausted and uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy, our babies get our first bits of energy. When we’re nursing little ones ‘round the clock, our babies get the milk they need regardless of what our own body stores need.
And it’s hard, but necessary, to intentionally make our health a priority so that we can keep giving in this way.
To begin healing mom burnout, we need to identify what has us so stressed. But even before that, we can begin giving our minds intentional healing focus. I have found yoga nidra meditations to be powerfully restorative.
Re-evaluating priorities is a must. If you cannot eliminate obligations, work with family members to share responsibilities in the house and for meal preparations. A crock-pot or electric pressure cooker can help you make meals without as much effort, and buying lots of good, portable foods can make sure you’re nourished.
Adaptogenic herbs are classified for their ability to help you adjust to external stressors. Extracts, pills, and teas are good ways to get adaptogens into your body. I enjoy Woman's Balance tea for daily stress relief and immune strengthening.
If you suspect depression, post-partum or otherwise, take your healing efforts to a professional who can help you be sure you get the complete care you need.
Avoiding Mom Burnout
Whether you’re healing from mom burnout or feel like you’re approaching it, it’s not too late to make a change. Some little steps can make a big difference and help you to avoid mom burnout before it gets out of hand.
- Take moments for yourself. Learn to make the most of bursts of me-time, and to find mindfulness even in the busy moments. Deep breathing, nourishing herbs and teas, mindfulness, and stretches can nourish your body in quiet moments.
- Learn to say no. It’s okay to say no to obligations, contributions, and events. You don’t have to do all the things! Find what brings you and your family joy, and let go of the rest.
- Eat well, breathe well, move well.
- Enjoy adaptogenic and nourishing herbs.
- Let go of both things (clutter) and expectations that leave you scrambling to keep up.
- Reach out to other moms – support is vital!
Mom burnout affects us all at one time or another. Don’t go it alone! We’re all in this together.