As a working mom, the mental exhaustion is real. Personally, I thought I would never experience burnout as a mom. My initial thought was that I would be on cloud 9 every second of my son’s life, but not only have I felt mom burnout (just being a mom), I have also felt so overwhelmed with the mental load of being mom and a good employee that I forgot what life was before my son and when the last time was that I felt like myself. The signs of burnout aren’t always clear; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- reduced professional efficacy.
I realized as a working mother, I needed to make a change that included work-life balance and different ways to help me still have a personal life amongst my busy schedule. The following are my top 10 things that helped me overcome the working mom burnout, and helped me reduce mom guilt.
1. Stop having unrealistic expectations
Can I get a show of hands for all the new moms AND seasoned moms who just want everything to be perfect? Holidays need to be a certain way, life in general should be a certain way, blah blah blah. Wow, the second I learned to just let it the f*ck go, it felt like a load was taken off my shoulders. I kept having such high expectations of myself and doing things for my son that my time management became HORRIBLE and I had a never-ending to-do list…ultimately, turned into chronic stress and just me wanting to snap at everyone.
It took me some time, and I am still working on this, but I was able to start letting go.
2. Practice self-care
The perfect question to ask yourself here is, what makes you calm down and relax? If time permits, something that helps you leave the house. However, I get it.- that is not always something we can do during the day or even on the weekends. We are working parents right? We have certain work hours and other family obligations on the weekend.
Here is what I found that works for me; instead of doing a million things during nap time (ie: cleaning up the house, laundry, making snacks, etc) I take time to put on a nice face mask, make myself a beverage of choice (I don’t typically drink alcohol so this is usually a coffee or a tea, but you do you!), and just chill. I work from home, so I typically do not have an extensive morning routine for makeup and getting ready like I used to when I worked in office, so this mask routine may seem like not a good use of your free time, but for me this really helps my energy level and gives my nervous system some quiet time.
Here is what you can do to practice self-care:
- Do what makes you happy
- Meditate via the Calm App
- Put on that face mask you bought from Sephora a month ago
- Get your nails done
- Have a spa day
- Eat well
- Sleep well
3. Build boundaries
With work responsibilities building by the minute and family members wanting to “see the baby” or giving you the guilt trip of “I never get to see you anymore” etc etc… these extra tasks or feeling overwhelmed to please everyone starts to push your household responsibilities back and then you start to have not only burnout at home but work burnout as well! I started to see that I was feeling so much physical exhaustion, and I felt as if there were not enough hours in the day to get anything else done for myself or to keep the household in tip top shape! Building boundaries has always been hard for me to do, but here is what I started doing when my son was born:
- Told my boss I will not be available after 5pm; including all slack messages and emails. If this was an urgent matter he was able to text me, but if it was not urgent he could wait till the next morning.
- Reminded my brother than he can’t just call me last minute to get the kids together, and we need to start making plans when it was convenient for all of us to get together.
- Educated (LOL) my single and kid free friends on motherhood and why I can’t hang out at 3pm on a Wednesday anymore or meet up for every single happy hour any longer. This helped them understand that I am not trying to be rude or not hang out, it’s just that I can’t or I am SO exhausted that any extra time that I have I want to have to myself or with my son.
- Told my parents that just “stopping by” is not a thing and they really need to call me before they want to come over. This was a hard one for my mother, ha!
These small little fixes in the workplace and at home (there are more things I have done, but those are the mains) really helped me become more of a NO woman instead of a YES woman, and let me tell you; that has been SO empowering. I don’t have FOMO anymore, and I know I am a good mom by making these extra shifts for my mental health and decreasing my burnout experience
4. Ask for help
I feel like moms today are using a lot of energy to NOT ask for help. They want to be the one that is getting everything done, and I’m not sure if that is a feeling of self accomplishment or what, but talk about getting overwhelmed and burnt out. I get it a lot of families don’t have extra help or the option of child care, but even if it is asking your significant other or your boss to help support you on certain activities around the house/ workplace it doesn’t make you any less of a mother/person. It is okay to need help
5. Try a new hobby
This is a fun one for sure, there are so many things that you can do even just at home and/or with your little one. Here are my favorite hobbies to try;
- hiking, great way to get outside and get that fresh air
- Crochet, not really my cup of tea but it is something you can do this at home when you’re taking a break from work/the baby is napping
- Photography, this one would be os fun to get into. You’re able to take pics of your little one then you can…
- Build a scrapbook!
6. Spend quality time with your partner
Have a at home date night! They are totally a thing, and they are pretty fun! Get something special for dinner, put the kiddos to bed and bam alone time. Let me tell you, this soothes the soul for me every time (I really thing it soothes the soul for both of us). If you can go out, even better, but again at times it is more added stress to figure out child care and where to even go for dinner. But with all the extra obligations that come with parenthood, being in survival mode, and not seeing each other during work time – it makes it that much more meaningful to really be spending time with your significant other…and maybe try not talking about the kids 🙂
learn each other’s love language! If you haven’t done this already, it can be a fun way to get to know something new about your partner, if you don’t know it already!
7. Try therapy
Professional help has been my saving grace. Not only for workplace burnout/at home burnout, but my overall stress levels have come down and my emotional health has been A LOT better. Here is a great article on talk therapy and the benefits from the NHS; which in summary states the overarching goal of talking therapies is to help individuals feel better. Although it may not eliminate problems, many people find it easier to cope with difficulties and experience increased happiness through talking therapy.
Tips to find a therapist:
- First look into options your workplace may already have for this benefit; some companies offer 6-10 free sessions a year!
- Check out who is in network on your insurance
- Need a fully virtual experience: try Better Help or Talk Space! Neither of these are sponsored, I used Better Help for a month when I was not able to go in person to a therapist, I liked that I was able to send messages to a therapist, but it just wasn’t for me I really like the in person vibe!
8. Join a local working mom group
I was fortunate enough to join a group of women who each have their first child within a month of my first born. We have been together since the kids were about 6 weeks old, and it has been nothing but pure bliss for me. I have some moms I can count on for a late night text, or just a small vent. We do get together once a month for a moms’ night out, and we also see each other with the kids during park dates and such on the weekends. I will say I have gotten closer to about 2 of the moms and we vent about work and strategize what we want to tell our bosses about our schedules and such, so it helps a lot to have someone going through what you are and there to help you through your thoughts!
I looked through facebook, and there are a lot of mom groups within my city too. You can always search (city you’re from or surrounding city) working moms/moms. No mom groups in your area, I bet if you start a facebook group the moms will start pouring in!
The Mayo Clinic wrote a great article on working out and stress management here is what important tips I gathered from the article that are relevant to burnout and the positives working out has.
Exercise and Stress Relief:
- Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, acts as a stress reliever.
- Exercise increases the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, providing a sense of well-being.
Positive Effects of Exercise on Stress:
- Exercise reduces the negative effects of stress by imitating the body’s response to stressors, positively impacting cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems.
- It serves as “meditation in motion,” helping individuals forget daily irritations and focus on the body’s movements.
Mood Improvement and Mental Health:
- Regular exercise boosts self-confidence, improves mood, and helps relax, lowering symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.
- Improved sleep, often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety, is an additional benefit of exercise.
Don’t have a lot of time? Do quick spurts of exercise (about 10 minutes) and/or take a walk in between your work meetings. Just that quick little burst can help your overall mood, and a big positive it will help your midday brain fog!
Want to read the full article from Mayo Clinic, click here.
10. Let go of mom guilt
The bottom line is that we will always feel mom guilt, it is a vicious cycle with all of the family obligations, the kids sports, birthday parties every single weekend, etc. Sometimes we have to just take a break to be a better functioning mom. Why do we have to feel guilty when a lot of the times our kids won’t even notice if they didn’t get their sandwich cut into a cool character or they didn’t have balloons on their birthday. Accept imperfection, set those realistic expectations, and prioritize you and your self-care! You got this mama!
Do you have any thing that helps you with burnout at home or work? Comment them below!
For now sending lots of love!