As moms, some days we feel like we are CRUSHING IT, our work/life balance is ON POINT, our kids are mostly obedient, everyone is getting enough sleep, all the relationships in our lives are lining up perfectly and we are feeling on top of the world! But if you’ve been a mom for more than 2 hours… you know that those feelings don’t last. The “balance” disappears, our kids go through difficult phases, sleep regressions happen (AND they are THE WORST, btw) and because your life is so out of balance… all personal relationships fall by the wayside. You, friend, are burnt out.
You know… burn out! That state in which you are mentally unable to handle any more stress in your life. A state where all your energy and mental resources are depleted.
I see that constant checklist in your brain that is full of things like get milk from the grocery store, switch the laundry, thaw meat for dinner, sign kid up for dance class, buy a baby shower present, rsvp to kids party, bake something for school fundraiser, etc.
You wake up before the sun rises in attempts to get it all done so that you can spend some quality time with your kids. You stay up late doing the same thing OR just trying to sneak in a quiet moment for yourself. Your phone has that annoying little red bubble above your email that says, “3,352 unread messages.” Not to mention that there are 23 unread text messages from your mom and siblings wondering if you’re alive and 5 messages that you looked at and forgot to respond to because someone needed help with their sock.
Burnout in motherhood feels as though we are staggering through life, trying to make it through each and every day. Burn out steals our joy. It zaps our energy. It makes us moody, irritable, and frustrated. It makes us apathetic in the times we need to respond and overreact in times we need to be patient.
It’s not remembering when you last had a glass of water or went on a walk. It’s feeling irritated with your kids more than feeling enjoyment. It’s agreeing to do something that you don’t really want to do (or have time to do) because you feel guilty and obligated. It’s losing our patient and yelling at those we love. It’s waking up and already feeling drained and fatigued. It’s spending more time in your car than in your home. It’s being too busy to read a book or take a walk.
It feels like you are living the same day over and over again, working so hard to get stuff done and yet you never feel like you accomplished anything. Your soul never feels refreshed.
We have this horrible habit of running ourself ragged & allowing ourselves to get empty and never full. We exist in this constant state of panic. We must stop living life as if everything is an emergency. Because when we live our life running we become someone that we are not. Someone that doesn’t reflect our values. Someone that we don’t want to be as a spouse, friend, sibling, child, co-worker, boss or as a parent.
I want to feel proud of who I am as a daughter, a wife, a mom, a friend and a person! So how do I get out of this cycle of living an overcommitted and breathless existence that we call “normal life.” How do we slow down the pace of our life enough to enjoy each day and develop deep and meaningful relationships with those around us? How do we live a more fulfilling life of peace and rest?
It has NOTHING to do with changing our schedules or having a once-a-week bubble bath routine while indulging in some chocolate-covered strawberries. No…. to get out of the endless cycle of burn-out we must do these three things.
This step is critical. If you are feeling indescribable fatigue, self-doubt, irritable, apathetic, angry and resentment.. you are likely burnt out. If depression and tears are daily visitors… you are likely burnt out.
Our human minds cannot function this way for long. It will seek to protect itself from further pain. So as a result, we react to our burnout. We either react beneficially or we become destructively self-defensive. As a mom this can look like “pulling away” from our kids. Keeping ourselves busy with unnecessary responsibilities and commitments that provide no lasting benefits. We constantly running errands and attending events, pouring ourself into our work… anything to make us more “unavailable” to the difficulty that is motherhood.
We might use a glass of wine to dull the pain or throw ourselves into a Netflix binge or endless social media scroll. When our kids accidentally irritate us we might react instead of respond. It is constantly feeling like, “I just can’t deal with the kids right now.” Consequently, your parenting years will be one giant blur of irritation, frustration and a general state of fatigue and stress.
But it doesn’t have to be!!! What’s critically important is that we recognize that we are overwhelmed and stop the train from wrecking. Because only when a problem is acknowledged can it be solved.
If you recognize that you are in a state of constant nagging and are 100% burnt-out. Hear me when I say, I’ve been there and it doesn’t have to be this way! There is a better way to raise our children and it starts with the ability to slow down.
We must stop trying to do it all. I know that it’s not easy! We have financial pressures, social pressures, and prior commitments. There doesn’t seem to be a place TO slow down. We tell ourselves that it is a temporary problem….
“I’m going to school full time and working.”
“I just started a new business.”
“We just moved to a new house.”
“I just had a new baby.”
We have convinced ourselves that our future will be less hectic. However, in my experience… this is hardly ever the case. That light at the end of the tunnel, that period of tranquility and rest hardly ever comes. Because it’s a fact that life doesn’t get easier and when one short-term trouble ends, another one will pop up. Therefore, we live our lives running fast on the path towards heart failure. But the answer is right in front of us… we must be disciplined enough to set boundaries.
Whether its in work life or personal life, boundaries are hard. But no matter how hard, they should be in every single one of your relationships: Family, friends, spouse, children, work, and yourself. The boundaries in each relationship might look different but they should still be there.
Boundaries are NOT selfish and we shouldn’t feel guilty about setting them. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. As moms we say things to ourselves like, “I can squeeze it in,” or, “it won’t affect me that much.” But really, all the little things add up and impact us in really big, negative ways.
When it came to learning how to set boundaries and "say no” in my own life. I found this exercise really helpful! Everytime I was tempted to say “yes,” I would ask myself, “what am I saying no to?” For example, if I say yes to working late, I am saying no to quality time with my kids. It’s no secret that as mom’s we struggle with guilt… but this little exercise helps me release the guilt of not helping that other person and instead enabled me to make a decisions objectively.
Invest in yourself.
As mom’s we need to figure out what it is that fills our cup, so to speak. Is it an exercise class? Writing? A coffee date with a friend? A hobby? A Netflix binge? A walk in nature? Singing songs? Prayer? Scripture reading? A phone call with your BFF? Reading a book? Whatever it is that makes your soul sing, make it a priority just like you do everything else. Because for motherhood, self-care is essential.
Avoiding burnout isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t easy to put yourself first. If it were, people wouldn’t talk about it all the time. But start small, schedule out a time each week where you have a couple of hours just for you. Invest in your well-being a little more. Soon it will become habit and you will see a positive shift in yourself, your relationships, your job AND your parenting.