You love your children, truly. You love being a mom, with all of its ups and downs. But if the downs have been a little bit more prevalent lately, or you’re feeling considerably more tense than usual, you might be questioning just how much you actually enjoy being a parent. Parenting stress is common, but when does it become outright burnout?
Mom burnout refers to chronic stress and exhaustion related to the demands of being a caregiver. These demands feel overwhelming, relentless, and without a restorative break. Some moms may begin to feel the pressure of mom burnout and then shame themselves into feeling worse. Moms are strong, but they are still human, with human needs.
Moms of all types experience mom burnout, but there are some risk factors including single parenting or taking on most of the parenting responsibilities, moms who work outside the home, and low-income moms. Additionally, moms who lack strong social or familial support are at risk for mom burnout. There is no particular child-age range for mom burnout, although moms of newborns should keep their eyes out for symptoms of postpartum depression.
Treating mom burnout early can help you maintain healthy relationships with your children, partners, and greater social support network.
Burnout can be tricky to identify, since it encompasses a variety of lifestyle factors. It can simply feel like life instead of a way of life. Burnout is physical, mental, and emotional, but many who experience burnout don’t realize burnout is happening until physical symptoms like dramatic weight changes, chronic and affecting fatigue, hair loss, or persistent illness occur.
Symptoms of mom burnout include:
● Extreme and persistent desire to be away from children
● Hostility or extreme emotional highs and lows
● Overreactions to minor issues
● Guilt regarding the parent-child relationship (including behaviors, reactions, thoughts, and feelings)
● Intense anxiety over parenting choices
● Regretting having children
● Pursuing unhealthy escapism (including overexercising, maladaptive daydreaming, gambling, affairs, chronically spending time online, drinking, or drug abuse)
● Feeling like an unworthy mother
● Fears or avoidance of asking for help
Unlike quitting a high stress job, you can’t quit being a parent to your children. It’s what makes mom burnout so tricky! Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms of mom burnout.
First, try to avoid comparing yourselves to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, and you never really know what anyone else’s life is like. Consider taking breaks from parenting, such as running to the grocery store by yourself or taking a weekend trip with friends. Try to remain in touch with yourself and your identity, the version of you that existed before you became a parent. Sleep, exercise, and eating well are always helpful to keep you strong and healthy. Finally, ask for help if needed. This can include family members, friends, or professional resources to make sure that your burnout symptoms remain in-check and do not escalate into anything more serious.
If you’re feeling mom burnout or a general sense of dissatisfaction in your life, we can help. At Valued Living Therapy, we offer in-person therapy sessions in the Twin Cities area and via telehealth throughout Minnesota. We are inclusive of all relationships, sexual orientations, and identities, and passionate about helping you make lasting change to live your best life.