The Mommy Burnout: How To Recharge and Reclaim Your Life
The idea of being a Stay-at-Home Mom, before I had kids was plump full of sunshine filled trips to the beach, laughter around the dinner table, teaching them how to play soccer, storytime and countless hours of cuddling- and then I had kids. None of those sugary visions involved mountains of laundry, unplanned code brown explosions and cleaning rancid milk infested car seats.
Did I think it would involve 5 or 6 rounds of dishes? Or the constant need to wear a fanny pack full of wet wipes? Nope.
The reality is much different once you are actually a Stay-at-Home Mom. Suddenly you wonder what you actually did when you had all the time in the world and why you misspent most of it.
Sure, I relished the early newborn days of sleepy babies and long walks outside while they napped in the stroller – And then they didn’t fall asleep so easily.
I cherished the early words they babbled and every time they called me “Momma” – And then they started saying “no.”
My kids grew up; they changed and became little-opinionated firecrackers. They were fierce!
But I changed too.
I sometimes lose my patience and snap over minuscule things like forgetting to take off muddy shoes in the house or spilling their lunch on the floor. I am on edge and impatient often more times than not. Sometimes I simply don’t want to get out of the house and do things with the kids because it is all too hard.
I look around the house and see clumps of dog hair needing to be swept, fingerprints all over the walls, plates stacked high in the sink and there I am, still sitting in my pyjamas and formula smelling sports bra for the third day in a row and my hair tied into some semblance of a greasy ponytail-like thing.
It is a miracle, my husband even wants to crawl into bed next to me every night. I am a mess, our house was a mess and my patience, sanity is hanging by a thread.
Have you ever felt like this?
It’s called MOMMY BURNOUT.
It’s called a million things; Stay at Home Mom stress, Mom Burnout, SAHM overwhelm… but however you name it, what you have, and most moms go through at one point or another, are feelings of being overwhelmed and burnt out.
While there may not be an official description of it in the dictionary, let me tell you what it should say.
MOM BURNOUT: The poor mother of children who is tired beyond belief; does not have any time for herself; sleeps with one ear always turned on listening for restless or awake children; may not be able to pull anything on that doesn’t have stretch or spandex or is two sizes two big in less than the 15 seconds she’s allotted in the morning before a child needs her; makes meals, cleans, picks-up, entertains, plays, comforts, cuddles, nurses, folds, washes, rocks a child or children every waking moment of each and every single day. She’s superwoman, but she’s dog tired and having mommy burnout means that this wonder woman has finally hit the threshold where she needs help and changes have to be made.
BEING A MOM IS HARD. IT’S HARDER THAN I THOUGHT.
There’s no reason to feel guilty or ashamed about being burnt out because truth be told, being a parent is exhausting when you’re pulled in so many directions.
Raising kids is the hardest and best job in the world, all at the same time.
The highs are incredible and completely consume your heart but the lows are like the trenches of the deepest ocean and likely leave you racked with guilt, exhausted and maybe even with something not-so-affectionally called mommy burnout.
Moms are a basic need for their children. They operate on all cylinders 24-hours a day and are constantly needed as Mom, driver, meal maker, doctor, playmate, sleeping buddy and safety net.
On top of that, we keep our feelings reigned in because we must be patient and loving, kind and understanding, empathetic, helpful, energetic and playful for our kids. And on top of all the responsibilities of being a parent, we’re expected to maintain our home, plan activities and socialize our kids (and then some.)
That’s quite the laundry list of responsibilities – and it’s no wonder Moms can feel like they get into a joyless rut sometimes.
Being accountable and responsible for others all the time is tiring. Taking care of someone else takes a lot of energy and giving up the lifestyle and your identity you knew before you had children, while it may be everything you’ve ever wanted, is a hard transition.
Parenting requires us to be selfless, and sometimes we get so caught up in taking such good care of all of those little people around us – and our homes, hubbies, and furbabies– that we forget to take care of ourselves.
I’ve had Mommy Burnout – more than once. But these are the things I started changing and would notice right away that they help pull me out of my own Mom funk. I hope you can find something that helps if you feel like you have mommy exhaustion too.
Wake Up Early
I’m the least morning-ish person you know, so this is probably the hardest step for me.
I set my alarm on my phone to wake up an hour before the kids get up in the mornings so that I can have time to get ready, grab the coffee, maybe work a little and be by myself before the morning rush starts. Try it and see how you like setting time aside for YOU before your kids rise and shine.
Alternatively, if you’re a night owl, once you put those kids to bed, indulge yourself and enjoy the next few hours to yourself or with your partner.
Get Dressed Up
No, unfortunately, this does not mean yoga pants or workout clothes or anything that involves spandex and stretchy fabrics. Sigh. I hear you.
I know I love my workout clothes and they’re great because you probably can’t tell if I’ve rolled out of bed or actually went to the gym, but those fall into the “do not wear” category for breaking out of your funk. Take the time to get showered, dressed and do your hair and apply a little make-up. Even if it’s just mascara. When you’re pulled together and feel made-up, you’ll feel like a new person.
Create a Routine
Create a schedule that both your children can adhere to.
Having a routine will not only help your children with managing expectations, sleep and eating schedules, but the organization of having a routine lets you know what to expect out of the day, be more attuned to behavior shifts in your children (like when they’re tired, hungry, thirsty, etc.) and when you may have time for yourself next – whether nap time, quiet time or bedtime.
Knowing what’s happening throughout the day sets the expectation for your children and for you – plus, children love the consistency of routine and tend to respond better to the known versus unknown.
Let The Kids Entertain Themselves
Today, there is a common misunderstanding that we need to sit and play and keep our kids entertained at every moment of the day.
STOP THIS. Erase that misconception from your mind. Wipe it clean.
If you are always entertaining your kids, how will they ever learn to entertain and play by themselves? It’s OK to sit on the sidelines while your children play and explore (once you’ve made sure everything is safe of course) by themselves in their own environment. In fact, this should be encouraged and is shown to help with their increased independence and interest in learning.
Mix It Up
It’s time to get out of the house and get some fresh air!
If you’re in a rut and staying at home or doing the same things over and over, a change to your environment will help shift your mood and energy. It doesn’t have to be a full, extensive outing, it can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood, going to a new park or scheduling a play date with a friend. You’ll find that your children will appreciate the change of scenery as well and need it just as much as you do!
Get A Hobby
What do you love? Reading, running, movies? Do you have a hobby?
Now that you have a routine and know when you’ll have time for you or when you hire a babysitter, incorporate things you love into your personal time. It may be as simple as going to your favorite coffee spot for a cup or two of uninterrupted ME time.
Ask For Help!
Is there something that is really stressing you out at home and contributing to your feelings of being burnt out? It may be time to consider outsourcing help. If you need a break from your kids, it’s could be time to hire a babysitter for a couple hours here and there.
Remember to be gentle with yourself. This downright no good feeling does not last forever. You are doing the best you can and that’s all your children need but you have to take care of yourself as well. You are important, your family sustains itself and functions because of all that you do all day long.