Being a mother is exhausting. The amount of things bidding for your time just pulls you in every direction that you are bound to break. If you are a stay-at-home mom you have so much time spent with your children and the upkeep of the whole family. At some point, you will experience motherhood burnout. It is only natural with everything you have going on.
That being said it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prevent it and even recover quickly from it. You just have to understand the cause and the steps to take to fix it. I am not a medical professional or expert on this by any means, just a mom who has gone through motherhood burnout before. So let’s jump in.
What are the Symptoms of Motherhood Burnout?
Before you can recover or even try to prevent motherhood burnout you need to know what it looks like. That way you know if you have some symptoms already that your burnout might have already started. And to recover from burnout you have to acknowledge that it exists and that you actually have motherhood burnout and not something else.
If you want to prevent it you need to know what to look out for as well. So that way you can catch it early on and make some changes. Now motherhood burnout has both physical and emotional symptoms to look out for. Let’s get into the physical symptoms first.
When it comes to the physical symptoms of motherhood burnout it is easier to spot them than the emotional symptoms. You may end up with just one of these symptoms at first, but the more burnt out you are the more symptoms you will have. It may not be in this order at all, but the four main physical symptoms are having a low immune system, being fatigued, having insomnia, and really bad migraines.
Low Immune System
With having a low immune system as a symptom it isn’t just like having a normally low immune system. It is more where your immune system actually takes a huge drop and anything and everything can get you sick. And this is really a big thing too because being a constantly sick mom is not easy at all for anyone.
Also as a mom, in general, you come into contact with germs on a regular basis that you should have a higher immune system than basically the rest of your family. The reason being that moms take care of their sick kids, sick husbands, and end up in places that carry germs (places like doctor’s offices, grocery stores, playgrounds, daycares, schools, etc.) more often than fathers or people who don’t have kids.
When a mom has come into contact with so many germs she builds up her immune system pretty high. But when motherhood burnout happens and the immune system lowers then mothers run the risk of catching any form of sicknesses and it can be constant. No one likes to be constantly sick. Let alone a mother who has so much to do.
Another symptom of motherhood burnout is fatigue. Now fatigue can be shown as falling asleep quite often, not wanting to do anything, struggling to keep to their normal routines, falling behind on chores, etc. the list can go on and on. It really depends on the person to which parts of fatigue they end up with.
Many mothers end up feeling very tired during their days with their children, but there is a difference between being tired and being fatigued. Being tired may just happen every so often or if you didn’t get a good sleep the night before. But being fatigued happens for days, if not weeks on end. That is until you learn what to do about it.
On the other side of being fatigued, you may actually end up with insomnia instead.
When motherhood burnout happens and you get insomnia everything just feels worse than ever. That is because your body won’t even rest. Not being able to sleep will do a lot to a person, especially when it comes to how irritable you can get.
Being a mother you need a lot of patience with children at any age. When you can’t sleep well anymore then your patience basically goes out the window. Without being able to sleep you lose the time when your brain rests from all that you think and overthink about as a mother. Which puts your brain on overdrive and small issues become much bigger than they appear.
Even though all three of these things are quite bad to have, there is one more physical symptom of motherhood burnout that really takes the cake.
Migraines are the worst part of anyone’s day, especially when nothing seems to work to get rid of it. Now many people can use certain medicines to get rid of migraines, but there are people out there that medicines don’t work on. Or migraines that are so much more powerful than any of the medicines can take care of. Like splitting migraines.
Splitting migraines can tear anyone down but for a mother, it is like being hit by a train. Any little thing kids do could end up causing the splitting migraine to be much worse and make even thinking nearly impossible. Though you don’t have to be getting splitting migraines for it to be a symptom of motherhood burnout.
Constant migraines, in general, are actually a huge indicator that you are heading for a burnout. That said, there are people who get migraines for other reasons, but when you usually don’t get migraines then be sure to take action into fixing the problem. Like finding out the main reason why they are happening.
Other than physical symptoms there are emotional symptoms that indicate that you may be getting motherhood burnout. Let’s get to it.
When it comes to emotional symptoms of motherhood burnout I want to talk about the main three emotions. The reason is that people are all different and you could basically say that any emotion could be a symptom of a million things. So the main emotional symptoms to look out for are anxiety, anger, and depression.
For starters, we have anxiety and I have noticed it showing up before motherhood burnout many times. It can come in many shapes and forms but for the most part, it shows up as not feeling like there is ever enough time in one day to get anything done.
While most of the world might feel as though there is never enough time in the day it is different for mothers in a way. Mainly because as a mom you have to worry about your child’s needs, doing the chores, taking care of your partner, mealtimes, schooling for your kids and their afterschool activities, and still take care of yourself.
Now as a mom we tend to find ways to make everything work, whether that be by breaking tasks up into smaller pieces and spreading around throughout the week or by remaining calm and working through the priorities first.
That’s just one of the things that make being a mom similar to a superhero. But when the overwhelming anxiety of not having enough time sinks in it makes it hard to get anything done. And when you feel like nothing is getting done then anger sets in.
Motherhood burnout brings out the worst in us and that includes being easy to anger. Many times your children will annoy you and you can brush it off or address it. But when burnout hits you don’t seem to be able to brush it off, instead, you get angry.
Getting mad at the little things never seemed to happen before and now you feel upset pretty regularly. That shows that you are starting to be burnt out and that is why you should watch out for anger.
It is not your fault or the child’s when this happens either. It may make you feel like you have just become a bad mom, but you didn’t. You just need to find ways to breathe through the bubbling anger and work on fixing your burnout.
This next symptom, in fact, will make everything feel like it is your fault. Just remember it is not.
You are a great mother and depression doesn’t define you. It just happens that being depressed often comes with being burnt out. Leaving you to feel like happiness was for everyone, but you and that is not the case.
Many times when you start getting overly exhausted with motherhood you lose a bit of hope. You start to think the grass is greener on the other side and it might be because they may have turf (fake grass). But due to being exhausted and losing hope you start to want to do less and less. Or start to feel like nothing is going your way at all. Your burnout is starting to be shown as depression.
Depression starts to sink in during motherhood when you start letting the little things get to you. When you start comparing yourself and your family to the Instagram perfect families you see. Or to those on Facebook or Twitter. Or even to the other parents at the playground. Comparing yourself to others is always bad for your mental health and yet we do it anyway.
We need to remember that everyone in the world is different and unique so comparing what happens in our lives to others is just a waste of time. And being depressed leaves you wanting to do less and you miss out on good times you could be spending with your children.
It might not be easy to spot depression at first when it comes to motherhood burnout because it may come on slowly. Do watch out for this as a symptom, but you will probably notice other symptoms before this one.
Now let’s get into recovering from motherhood burnout so that these symptoms don’t drag on for too long.
Recovering from Motherhood Burnout
The first step in recovering from anything is to know that you have it and accept that you need to work on recovering from it. It doesn’t need to be scary or anything painful. You don’t even need medicines which is wonderful. Just a few changes in your life and you can recover and even prevent motherhood burnout.
How great it is to ditch feeling bad by switching a few things around and ending up with better days ahead. I will point out that you don’t have to do all of these things to recover and you don’t have to change everything all at once. Just pick what works best for you and your situation and go from there.
Better Sleep and More of It
Pretty basic right? Well sleeping better at night and sleeping more, in general, are always being talked about. It always seems easy to do, but for most of the world, we don’t sleep enough at all. Let alone getting the right sleep we need to recover from the day before.
Now I could start talking all technical here, but I would rather keep it easier to understand. Just because sleep is very important to at least understand the basics of it. I mean we do sleep for a third of our lives.
So we have five stages of sleep and each stage lasts between 5 and 15 minutes. Once we reach our last stage it resets. That means about every 90 minutes we repeat our sleep cycle.
Here is the thing though, if you wake up at any point in your sleep cycle it starts right back from the beginning. This is a problem because you need to get to the last stage, REM sleep, to wake up feeling refreshed and able to focus.
Right there, not being able to get enough REM sleep is the struggle for mothers. That is because even when we are sleeping our body and mind are making sure that we hear if our kids need us.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t be waking up all night to take care of the newborn babies we had. But because of being a mom we listen for any noise that indicates we need to wake up for our kids and even if we aren’t needed we end up waking up from the slightest movements.
That is why new moms actually have a hard time getting enough REM sleep. But we need to and so finding what works for us to sleep should be a priority. If we don’t get 8 hours of sleep we won’t want to get up or we will end up feeling groggy all day.
Now it is easier to get 8 hours of sleep undisturbed when you have older kids compared to having a newborn, but you still need to try either way. Trying to get sleep with a younger child means you need to get a little creative with when you can sleep. An hour and a half here and there may work out, but if you can push it to about 2 hours you may be able to make up for all of the missed sleep.
If you can’t get enough sleep you are bound to run into motherhood burnout, but if you get the right amount of sleep you can fix it too. Sleep really is a cause and a solution to many situations. But if you are still feeling groggy and getting irritated you might want to look at your diet.
Eating Balanced Meals
Yet another big thing that can change and solve many problems is eating right with balanced meals. And not everyone can have the same foods, but there is still a balance that they can make work for them. That being said food is fuel and not eating right will not make you feel well or energized enough to take care of your kids.
If you aren’t sleeping well at night then you should look into what the problem is. If it doesn’t seem like other issues it could be what you are eating before bed. Things like caffeine and sugar before bed are not going to help you sleep.
Even eating too close to when you plan to sleep can make it hard for you to sleep well throughout the night. If you want to sleep well then try eating things like almonds, walnuts, turkey, fatty fish, and kiwis. Or even drinking chamomile tea and passionflower tea can help you get better rest.
If you wake up feeling groggy in the mornings from not getting enough sleep then try having foods that help wake you up and make you feel energized. Eggs, almonds, bananas, chia seeds, watermelon, and avocados are all great breakfast foods for getting your energy up.
Once you get your energy up head out for a walk or enjoy an outdoor activity. Anything to get a bit of exercise in.
Having some time outdoors can do a lot for your wellbeing, but it is an exercise that is the important part. Whether you are going to the gym, taking a walk, playing a sport, or even doing yoga. Taking the time to exercise will help reduce stress and help with motherhood burnout.
Endorphins you get from exercising can brighten your mood and start your day off on a better foot. It is best to exercise in the morning, but that doesn’t always happen and so whether or not it is in the morning just finding time at some point during the day will help you out.
Another way to prevent and recover from motherhood burnout is to take better care of yourself. Take some time out of your day to do something solely for yourself. Because as a mom you need to have “you” time.
Doing something for yourself can be something small or something that you rarely do. It can be small like reading a book, washing your hair, “glowing up”, or taking a bubble bath. Or it could be bigger like getting a manicure and pedicure, going shopping, watching a movie in the movie theaters, or even heading out for a spa day.
Have an Outlet
Having an outlet is a very big thing to have because in our day and age everything happens so fast and online at a go, go, go pace. It basically leaves no time for people to relax or even feel like they can relax because everything is all about the hustle or grind of life.
As a mother, your time gets pulled in different directions that can make anyone go crazy and burnout over time. That is why you need to find an outlet in your life and to actually make time for it. It can be anything you enjoy or even something you want to try out.
Your outlet could be anything honestly. You might love reading books, drawing, music, yoga, or boxing. Whatever you enjoy honestly is something you need to take some time for.
I am not saying make your outlet your priority over everything else, but to make it something you do at least once a week or so. Always remember that moderation is key in life, never overdo it.
Be on a Schedule
With everything, you do as a mom being on a schedule can help reduce some of the stress you already have. Not everyone in the world likes to be on a schedule, let alone actually have a good schedule for them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be organized with a schedule to reduce some of that stress of being a mom.
When the kids go to school they have to be there by a certain time and picked up at a certain time as well. Right here is a schedule that you will have for many years to come. So start your day earlier than your kid’s schedule to get that peaceful time to get things ready for the day or to do something for yourself.
Once the kids are at school, whether or not you are a stay-at-home-mom or go to work, have the rest of the day planned out for what needs to get done. If you have chores to do then block a section of the day for these chores. It is also best to space out all of the chores throughout the week. Have set days for laundry, vacuuming, dusting, etc.
Another good part of the day to plan out in a schedule is when the kids get home and when they go to bed. When they come home, plan out what the goals are for them to do before dinner. That could be doing homework, going outside to play, cleaning up, helping cook dinner, etc. And then when they go to bed make sure to have their bedtime routine start at a certain time each night.
As soon as they go to bed it is your time to either get work done, prepare for the next day, or enjoy time to yourself and/or with your spouse to wind down from the day. This could be the best time for certain outlets like reading or yoga to get out some stress and relax before bed.
Now, this is where I am going to end this post and I hope it helped you. Remember I am not an expert just a mom who has gone through motherhood burnout before and wanted to help others find their way back out as well. Like this post, if you enjoyed it! It lets me know I should make more posts like this.