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So, we are going through the fussy four-month growth spurt stage and I am burnt out! Nap time is a time for me to get my chores and work done and have a little time to myself. When M doesn’t take naps or will only nap if I am laying right next to him I am literally getting nothing done. My house is a mess, my blog post schedule is behind, my mental health breaks are behind, and I am stressed.
M wasn’t a good sleeper to begin with, only napping for about 45 minutes at a time. But now he is only napping for 15-20 minutes and if I am not right next to him…He wakes up five minutes after I’ve left the room. Today I was about to pull my hair out.
I told my husband, “I love M, but I am feeling so burnt out. It is the same thing every day and I am struggling because I don’t get a second to myself during the day.” He laughed and said I don’t think you can say that. I told him I am sure there are other moms out there who feel burnt out sometimes. So I looked into it and there is even a list of symptoms for mommy burnout.
Symptoms of Mommy Burnout Include:
- You’re either stressed, annoyed, irritated or all of the above most days.
- You find yourself yelling or snapping at your partner, children, friends, or co-workers.
- You feel exhausted, even if your child/children slept well the night before.
- You don’t feel like doing activities you once enjoyed.
- You have difficulty taking care of your family and find their needs overwhelming.
- You believe you need to be the “perfect” wife, mother, or…
- You feel like everyone else has it together except you.
If you have any or all of these symptoms…You, my friend probably have mommy burnout.
How Does Mommy Burnout Happen?
Mommy burnout happens when mommy is emotionally exhausted. We feel the need to give all of our time and attention to everyone else, leaving ourselves for last. Then there are the societal pressures to be beautiful, successful, sex animals who never yell and spend 100% time and energy educating and entertaining their tiny humans. You have to have dinner on the table and 6:00 pm, you pack everyone lunches, and you never complain. We give so much that we reach a point where we feel we have nothing left to give…Yet baby, child, husband, dogs, etc. need more. This can leave mommy feeling angry, unhappy, and most of all tired, which then leads to the questions every mom secretly asks herself, “am I good enough?” “Am I a good mom?” “Do I have the ability to take care of the baby?”
Something I read during my research on mommy burnout said, “Women who are the most highly motivated to be good mothers are most at risk for mommy burnout.” Because you are working so hard to be such an amazing mom you are quicker to reach mommy burnout (doesn’t seem fair). So those questions you are secretly asking yourself, the answer is yes. Yes you are good enough, yes you do have the ability to take care of the family, yes you are an amazing mommy.
How Do You Get Over Mommy Burnout?
- Remember You Are a Great Mom- The first step is to know that you are enough. You are a great mom. This happens to most moms at least once, if not more. You don’t need to feel that dreaded mom-guilt. You are doing a great job! Repeat that…You are doing a GREAT job!
- Take Some Alone Time & Get Dad Involved– I know this can be hard. This is something I struggle with. I love M so much that when I need a break I also don’t want to be away from him. This is a great opportunity to lean on your partner for support. Let dad have some one-on-one time with the kids while you have a little alone time. You are a team and when one player is struggling the other player rallies around them to make sure the team is at it’s best. My husband works outside of the house and doesn’t get much time with M. Sometimes, when I need a break my husband will hang out with M for an hour before we put him to bed and they will just bond. And after I’ve taken a break I feel better and they had a little man bonding time. Depending on the time of day the break could be anything:
- Lock yourself in the bedroom and do something that you can’t do with the baby… Get on your phone, read a book, listen to inappropriate music, etc.
- Take a bath
- Go for a walk
- Meet up with some girlfriends
- Find a Support System- Talking to other moms who have gone through or are going through what you are going through can be so helpful. Actually, just connecting with other moms so you can vent and know they will understand what you’re saying is a kind of therapy in itself. Sometimes though, motherhood can be lonely. I have made some local mom friends through things like:
- Using the free app Peanut which connects like-minded women in your area who also happen to be moms.
- Our local library has storytimes for kids aged 0-18 months. This has been a great place to meet other moms and babies and talk about our struggles.
- Create a Routine– It doesn’t need to be super strict, (God knows the kids wouldn’t stick to it even if you were super strict about it.) But having routines lets you and your child(ren) know what to expect throughout the day or week. Children love structure and having a schedule they can predict. I know it can sound silly but sometimes knowing that we are going to do this for x minutes and then daddy will be home can make all the difference and help you push through that last little bit.
- Spend Time With Your Husband/Partner– It is so easy to push them aside because you are so busy. But I encourage you not to. They can be a huge support for you. After all, they know you better than most other people and sometimes they can make you feel better when you didn’t think anyone could. I spend an hour or two with my husband when M goes down for the night. Sometimes we just snuggle and watch the DVR other times we have date nights, or we drink wine and just talk. Since he is my best friend he is always there with encouraging words and has great ways of making me feel better.
- Eliminate Perfect From Your Vocabulary– I never liked this word as a teacher and I hate it even more as a mom. This word holds so much power over people. There is such societal pressure to be “perfect”. But here is a newsflash…No one is perfect. As a parent, you worry did I play with my baby enough? Did I read to him enough? Did I let him cry too much? Did I…? Did I…? Shut that second guesser and inner critic up! You are doing a great job! It is easy to question and second guess everything, but remember to tell yourself you were given these children and you are the parent and know what works best for your family. You are a good mom and you have the skills and knowledge to handle whatever life throws at you. Let me tell you, in my experience kids just want to spend time with their parents. It could be as simple as watching a cartoon, reading a book together, or you just sitting outside watching them every time they say “hey mom, watch this.” I know it is easy to get bogged down in the “perfect” spiral and the inner criticism, but you are a great mom.
- Get Out of the House– you will be surprised what a little fresh air will do for you and your child(ren). Getting out to do anything from going to for a walk to going to the library… Sometimes the stress comes from being caged within the same 4 walls day after day.
- Let Your Child Play by Themselves– This is another one I struggle with. Working at Head Start I’ve seen parents who didn’t interact with their children much and I am terrified of being that kind of parent. I hate putting M in the swing for more than 10 minutes, or on the activity mat without me being right next to him. But constantly being “on” is exhausting. It is ok to let the kids play by themselves, even as babies. It is actually good for them. And as your children get older, giving them the opportunity to do things on their own makes them more responsible later on. So let them pour their own milk in that cereal or pick out their own clothes. Every little thing that you don’t have to worry about gives you a chance to catch a breath.
- Check-In With Yourself to Make Sure it’s Not More Than Stress– Mental health is finally starting to get more recognition and understanding. With the constant stress and always being “on” for your family, things can get overwhelming. If you don’t get enough sleep, take some breaks, or have others help out just to name a few, the stress will continue to build. Keep an eye on the stress and how you are feeling, but also look for signs and symptoms of depression. Sometimes it can sneak up on you out of nowhere and it is so easy to become a stressed out, depressed mommy.
Please don’t be afraid to seek help. As much as you love your children, parenting is hard and can take a toll on you. Talk to your doctor honestly so you can get back to being a happy healthy mommy.
After doing my research my husband and I had a real honest talk about mommy burnout. Now that we know it is a real thing and a few ways to get over it and avoid it we are both working hard to make sure I get the breaks and help I need. Have you ever had mommy burnout? What did you do to get over it?