As a mom, have you ever had the experience of looking in the mirror and thought; “wow, I look tired!” And not, “I just spent a night out with friends drinking and dancing” kind of tired but more like “I don’t recognize myself anymore” tired. It’s a kind of exhaustion that you can feel in your bones. You try to figure out when it all caught up to you. You are officially a burnt out mommy!
Being a parent is hard work but it doesn’t have to make you feel defeated.
Here are 5 Things to Consider When Trying To Manage Mommy Burn Out:
1. Maintain Your Social Connections
When you are busy raising your kids, your social relationships (outside play groups and play dates) tend to take a back seat. It is so important to keep our social connections active sans children. Friends provide us with the support, fun and escape that we all need to recharge our batteries. Whether it's a grabbing a drink, dinner or even a chat on the phone, friends can help throw us a life preserver when we feel like we are drowning.
2. What Have You Done For Yourself This Week?
It is a concept that is often repeated time and time again but for important reason. How can we best take care of our children, be a committed partner and maintain our sanity without first taking care of ourselves. Choose something that you actually enjoy and try to do it at least once a week. Some people find working out to be an unbelievable stress reliever. Others feel that going to the gym is more of a chore. Think about what provides you with an outlet and a break from your everyday stresses. Secure childcare and just do it. You and your family will be happy you did!
3. Practice Self-Compassion
We are our own biggest critic. Constantly judging ourselves and our parenting can take a huge toll on our confidence and self-esteem. As humans, we all make mistakes. Sometimes we have no idea what we are doing or sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Maybe you turned your back on your toddler for one second and they fell and hurt themself. Or, after a stressful day your children have pushed you too far and you lose your temper. Try to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can and that's okay.
4. Reclaim Your Self-Identity
What are you passionate about? What provides you with drive and happiness? For some people this is an easy answer but for others it can be more difficult. Take that time to figure out who you are and who you want to be separate from your identity as “mommy”. It is not uncommon that during maternity leave a lot of mothers start to question their current career choices. Take some time to ponder what brings you happiness, devise a plan and take action. Nothing is more exciting!
5. Recognize The Signs Of When You Are Heading Towards Burnt Out
It is not uncommon for people to not even notice when they are starting to stretch themselves too thin. We are all guilty of this. You are going through the motions of your daily routines while trying to keep your head above water. Many women end up in my office when they start to notice that the stress is now taking a toll on their emotional and physical health. They are more unhappy and irritable, feeling tension and strain in their marriage and relationships and feel that their life is spinning out of control. What are some warning signs that you are heading towards burnout?
It’s so important to try and recognize these warning signs. When you notice that you are starting to head down the road to burn out, try and regroup and reflect on your priorities. You deserve a break!
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.