“I’m exhausted. I feel completely burned out.”
“I haven’t had a break in so long. I’m doing everything for my family. And with all that I’m doing, I still get criticized and it’s never enough.”
“I am very, very tired. I don’t know what to do or whom to talk to.”
Let’s face it: parenting is hard. It’s a 24/7 job with no breaks, no vacations, and no time off. We pour all of our love, energy, and resources into raising our children, and while it’s incredibly rewarding, it can also be incredibly draining. We are expected to be superwomen, juggling our roles as mothers, wives, caregivers, employees, and more. It’s no wonder that so many of us experience what’s commonly referred to as “mom burn-out”.
It’s time to stop pretending that we can do it all and start acknowledging the toll that motherhood takes on our mental and emotional well-being.
In this blog, Dr. Missy Wolfman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in mental health for all moms, will help shed light on what mom burnout is, how it affects us, and most importantly, what we can do to overcome it. So, if you’re a mom who’s feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and on the brink of burnout, keep reading. You’re not alone, and there is hope.
What causes mom burnout?
According to Dr. Missy, mom burnout may be caused by the following factors:
Lack of Support
Because modern society is disconnected, it has become quite challenging for parents to get the support they need when raising children. This lack of support puts a lot of burden and responsibility on parents to raise their children alone, which can be overwhelming.
Another factor contributing to the burnout of mothers is the constant bombardment of information through social media and news outlets. Moms are often bombarded with information about what they need to do and what they shouldn’t do. With this, comes a growing sense of pressure to meet higher and higher expectations, which can lead to burnout.
The pandemic has been another significant contributor to the exhaustion and burnout experienced by many moms. With lockdowns and remote work, moms have had to take care of their children, manage the household, and work all at the same time. Without any rest, this can be incredibly challenging, leading to feelings of burnout.
Awareness of Burnout
The concept of burnout is relatively new. Before, people might have referred to it as feeling stressed, exhausted, or depressed. However, there is more awareness of burnout as an actual syndrome.
How do we deal with stress when we’re living in a multigenerational household?
Dr. Missy understands the tension that can arise between different generations and cultures when it comes to raising children. Moms often receive unsolicited advice and criticism from well-meaning family members and it can be overwhelming.
As a scientist, Dr. Wolfman always turns to the literature and evidence when making decisions about things like screen time and raising emotionally healthy children. It’s important to be discerning and seek information from experts in their field who base their advice on scientific research rather than anecdotes. This is why the Discerning Parenting podcast focuses on the skill of knowing where to get reliable information.
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Myths Related to Mom Burnout
Here are some of the myths surrounding mom burnout and why it’s important to break them.
Myth No.1: Feeling burned out means that you are a bad mom or that you love your kids any less.
This is simply not true. Burnout can happen to anyone, regardless of how much they love their children or how dedicated they are to their role as a mother. In fact, many moms who experience burnout do so precisely because they care so much and put so much pressure on themselves to do everything right.
Myth No. 2: Moms should sacrifice everything for their children.
While it’s true that being a parent involves making sacrifices, it’s important to recognize that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your children. This means taking time to rest, recharge, and do things that make you happy, even if it means saying no to some of the demands of parenthood.
Shame and Guilt Related to Burnout
Many moms feel shame and guilt when they experience burnout. They may feel like they are failing their children or not living up to societal expectations of what a good mom should be.
This is a common feeling, but it’s important to recognize that it’s not productive or helpful. Instead, it’s important to focus on self-care and seeking support from others, whether that means talking to friends and family or seeking professional help.
Dr. Missy, who works with moms in her clinical practice, notes that many moms come to her feeling guilty and exhausted, but unable to talk about it openly due to the stigma surrounding motherhood. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and addressing burnout so that moms can be their best selves and provide the best care for their families.
5 Self-Care Tips For Burnedout Moms
Here are some self-care tips for moms who are feeling burned out:
1. Check in with yourself
The first and most important tip is to check in with yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of everyday life and forget to take care of our own needs. Taking just a few minutes each day to ask yourself how you’re doing and what you need can make a big difference in your overall well-being. This could be as simple as asking yourself these questions while brushing your teeth in the morning or before bed.
2. Prioritize Basic Needs
As moms, we often put our own needs last. However, neglecting basic needs like food, water, and sleep can contribute to burnout. It’s important to prioritize these needs and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of our children. This means taking breaks when we need them, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.
3. Practice Radical Self-Care
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, sometimes the simplest acts of self-care can be the most powerful. Taking a few minutes to read a book, listen to music, or take a walk outside can be a great way to recharge and reduce stress. It’s important to remember that taking care of ourselves is not selfish – it’s necessary for our well-being and the well-being of our families.
4. Honor the Need for Time Away
For some moms, taking time away from their children is necessary for their mental health. Whether it’s a night out with friends or a solo trip to the grocery store, it’s important to honor the need for time away. This can be challenging, especially for moms with young children, but it’s important to remember that our needs are just as important as our children’s needs.
5. Embrace Imperfection
Finally, it’s important to remember that we don’t have to be perfect. As moms, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do everything right and be everything to everyone. However, this can be an unrealistic and unsustainable expectation. Embracing imperfection and letting go of the need to be perfect can help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
When to seek professional help?
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial to keep a regular check on your mental well-being.
The Importance of Daily Check-Ins
Dr. Missy stresses the importance of daily check-ins with yourself to notice any changes in your mood or behavior. If you have been feeling stressed, sad, or overwhelmed for more than two weeks, it’s a sign that you need to seek professional help. A mental health professional or your doctor can assess your condition and recommend treatment accordingly.
Effects on Functioning and Relationships
When your mental health starts to affect your functioning at work or home and your relationships, it’s time to seek professional help. For instance, if you’re becoming irritable and snapping at your partner or children, it’s a sign that your mental health needs attention.
Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health
The stigma around mental health is still prevalent, and it’s a significant barrier to seeking professional help. We need to break the stigma around mental health and treat it as we would any physical health condition.
Lack of Available Services
The mental health system is also quite taxed, and there may be a lack of available services. While we work to address this issue, Dr. Missy suggests carving out some time for yourself. Often, the first step towards better mental health is taking a time makeover, assessing how much time you’re spending on various activities, and reframing them to make time for yourself.
Make Time for What Nourishes You
In today’s busy world, it’s essential to make time for what nourishes you. This could be anything that makes you feel alive and happy, such as a hobby, exercise, or spending time with loved ones. Taking time for yourself is crucial for better mental health and wellbeing.
In conclusion, it is evident that the mental health of parents has a significant impact on the well-being and development of their children, regardless of their age. It is important to recognize that mom burnout is a real issue that is more common than we might think, and it is not a reflection of being a bad parent.
There are several factors that contribute to mom burnout, including societal pressures to be the perfect parent. However, by taking care of our own mental health, we can better support our children’s growth and development. As parents, we must prioritize our well-being and seek help when needed to ensure that we can provide a healthy and nurturing environment for our children.
Dr. Missy Wolfman is a clinical psychologist from Auckland, New Zealand, and she specializes in mental health for all moms, she’s also the founder of Empowermums and a mom of twins. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from the Victoria University of Wellington.