If you’ve made it here, chances are you’re experiencing mom burnout. Mom burnout is one of the growing epidemics plaguing the 21st century. Ok ok, maybe it’s not THAT serious, but it’s serious enough that if you’ve made it this far you’re on the edge of a full burnout. Counseling for women is available.
So what is mom burnout? Well, mom burnout is exactly what it sounds like. It is the stress and exhaustion that plagues moms in the face of the unrelenting demands and needs they must provide as a mother. You are not alone.. In fact, in 2019 the World Health Organization recognized burnout as a syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases.
What Is Mom Burnout?
Parental exhaustion is an unavoidable part of parenthood. From soccer games to school events and everything in between you’re responsible for caring not only for yourself but an entire other human, relying on you for everything. Burnout is a specific syndrome of exhaustion that can be related to prolonged situations of imbalance. Parental burnout is the feeling of exhaustion as the result of parenthood. Mom burnout is the feeling of overwhelming exhaustion as a result of being a mom.
These pandemic years have made things even more difficult. Adding a layer of isolation, with exhaustion and burnout becoming increasingly common. Burnout can be both physically, mentally, and emotionally overwhelming.
What Does Mom Burnout Feel Like?
If you’re in the position of parenthood you are taking on a load of responsibilities while having to take care of yourself and your own wellbeing. But what does mom burnout look like from the voice of exhausted mothers? Studies have been conducted to better understand mom burnout, here are some common findings:
- Fear: As a mother you may always have a sense of fear creeping in. Fear that your child may get hurt, fear that your child may get his feelings hurt or fall behind in class. The truth is, when you’re caring for someone else you will always have a little fear of things that are out of your control. A study of five moms, found that fear was the biggest theme in mom burnout. Including fear that they wouldn’t be good enough mothers or fear of control over their child.
- Sense of perfectionism: Another factor that plagues mothers is the need to be, or be perceived as perfect. The same study showed that mothers deal with a great sense of responsibility and duty that can become overwhelming and demanding. Other mothers are plagued with the idea of self doubt. Knowing that they aren’t perfect, but still doubting their ability to mother, leading to burnout when they can’t live up to their own expectations.
- Pressure: In society, there are many idealized social norms when it comes to how you should raise your children, best practices, etc. Outside of society, mothers get pressure from family & friends on how to raise their children and what steps need to be taken. If you take away all the outside pressure, mothers themselves already have a standard they put judge themselves against, wanting to be the best mother and serve their children! Self pressure is the desire (conscious or unconscious) to be perfect. Navigating the role of motherhood means working through your own expectations alongside societies, and overwhelming pressure leads to exhaustion.
- Sense of self : As a mother, parenting can become all consuming. Your life has just taken a drastic change in direction and it’s normal to not necessarily feel like yourself. When mothers feel like they are losing themselves, this often leads to burnout. They already feel like you are losing control over their ability to parent, and on top of that you feel like they’re losing themselves….well it can be exhausting.
How To Recognize Mom Burnout
Burnout is a result of overwhelming and compounding stress, with a lack of resources to help cope with that stress. Burnout typically comes in stages, mom burnout/parental burnout can differ based on the ages of your child. For example, mom burnout may take the form of physical exhaustion if you’re mothering younger children who require hands on attention. On the other hand, Mom’s of adolescents or teens may be dealing with exhaustion in the form of mental/emotional exhaustion. Similar to professional burnout, the symptoms build on each other and continue to get worse until solved.
Stages Of Mom Burnout
Depending on the age of your children, you may be experiencing different feelings of burnout, but typically in the phase of burnout there are stages to the process.
- Loss of fulfillment
Because of the severity of burnout, it can have long lasting impacts on mothers and their children. Parental burnout has increased during the pandemic, but resources haven’t necessarily increased.
Resources For Mom Burnout
If you’re experiencing Mom burnout, there are some tools you can use to help manage your burnout including:
- Talk about it: Sharing your feelings isn’t always easy, but admitting your struggling is the first step! Talk about your feelings in support groups, with a trusted friend, or with a therapist.
- Lifestyle changes: Burnout and stress tend to go hand in hand. If you’re experiencing overwhelming burnout, take a step back and analyze what small lifestyle changes you can make to help lighten the load.
- Growth: Parenting takes growth. Instead of throwing in the towel, try adding in some new tricks to the parenting toolbox. Find a new way to connect with your child if you’re feeling lost or try a new resource if you’re struggling with communicating.