6 Ways to Avoid Burnout as a Mother.
(aka parental insanity)
First, one the most important ways to avoid burnout as a mother, is self care. In order to look after those precious little people you first must look after yourself. A burnt out mama is short tempered and quicker to react instead of respond. A burnt out mama isn’t as mentally and physically on the ball as a self-cared for mama. ‘When do I have time to do this?’ I hear lots of busy mamas say! Whether you have 1, 2 or 4 children, whether they are 1 or 6 years old. Every adult needs time out to care for themselves. Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your children. Simply because they need you at your best.
I don’t mean go get your brows done every fortnight, go for a massage every week and spend a fortune on gym memberships. Lets be realistic and Simple… Reflect on the small things you used to do to care for yourself (and maybe took for granted) before children came in to the picture. Maybe it was; a long hot shower, a facial, meditation, time out to read a book, painting your toe nails, buying a pair of new shoes or dancing to your favourite tunes. Whatever it was! I bet you don’t get to do it no where near as much as you’d like to.
One way to avoid burnout as a mother is to care for yourself. Whenever you get the chance take the time to do that thing that helps your relax and feel special. Even if you’re super busy, once a week try switching something less important (like dusting the fire place, scrolling over Instagram, washing the dog). Don’t wait until the stress builds up. Try to practise self-care in simple small ways, when you do get the chance. A cared for mama is a happy mama and a happy mum means happy children.
To think clearly, and function rationally you need to be healthy. Following on from number 1; Self-care also means health. Keeping healthy, having a healthy diet and a healthy active lifestyle also means keeping a healthy mind. When health slips or unhealthy habits get in the way, a healthy mind deteriorates which can lead to a burnt out emotional mother. A healthy mindset means a fully functioning mindset, that is prepared for all that those crazy kids can throw at you.
Bonus points- health is also a good lifestyle choice to role model to your children. So it’s not only for yourself but for your children’s future. Healthy kids start with healthy habits.
3. Happy Adult relationships/friendships.
Another way to avoid burnout as a mother is to engage in Happy, Healthy adult relations. Whether it be Marriage, de facto, partners, close friends, family or social supports.
Another way to avoid burn out is to connect with another adult on the same level. Someone who understands, who has been there, or someone who can hear you and emphasis with whatever emotions yours dealing with. This is especially important for parents going through those early years.
You might feel like you’re going crazy talking baby language for days with minimal adult conversation. You might be acting as a sibling mediator one day, pretending to be a tickle monster the next day and then drying tears until the early hours the following. It’s tough! It’s even tougher if you bottle it up and do it alone though.
To avoid burn out as a mother, let out some of your own thoughts, fears and feelings to another adult. A partner, a mother, a best friend, someone you can relate to, someone who supports you and if you’re not comfortable doing that, there’s always the support of local community groups, and anonymous phone counselling through, life line or parent Line.
4. Time to be yourself.
Some people find this selfish. “I have a family to raise, a husband/partner to spend time with and a household to maintain. Plus everything else. I cannot possibly neglect these things for me-Time”. When you approach it from a different perspective it makes a lot more sense. Take away all those things and define yourself. Who are you? You’re not just a mother, or Wife, or cook or domestic goddess. You are your own person and there is something unique about you, something special that you need to love in order to avoid burn out as a mother.
Self-care is similar yet very different. Self-care is for psychological health, to remain logic and calm under pressure. Health helps control stress levels. Another cause of burnout as a mother, comes from losing your sense of individuality and not having time to be yourself.
Going back 2 years, Miss T was a colicky, difficult baby who had refused to sleep (ever). Dimples was having hearing troubles and grommets in, while struggling with the fact that he wasn’t mummies only baby anymore. My man was working out of the area, gone for weeks at a time and I was working our company through a home office day in day out. Plus everything else that I wont go into now. Who was I? A Tired mum on the brink of Post-Natal Depression. Lost. Broken.
So from Experience, over working your self and not having time to be yourself can break you. Everyone needs that something special and unique to them. Don’t lose it. It might be a hobby you love, a passion or a talent you have. Take time to be you and foster that unique part of you. Go for a walk with your own thoughts, whenever you get a chance do something creative. Try to do something you love every once and a while. It doesn’t have to be much but it helps to reconnect with your spirit once in a while.
5. Be positive.
Practice gratitude and thankfulness. Everyone has their bad days and it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things that go wrong and situations that fall flat of your expectations. Getting trapped in this negative pattern of thoughts can lead to burn out, and can lead you to give up on your parenting hopes.
It is helpful when you’re feeling under pressure to take a breath and be positive. Think positive! Especially in times of frustration. What are you thankful for? What can you learn from this experience? Can you turn this around into a more favourable situation? Pause for a Moment and reflect….
For example, When Dimples didn’t want to join in during group activities, I’d encourage him, if he said no I wouldn’t force him as I was grateful I had a child who was strong willed enough to say no and not be pressured into something. Likewise, When Miss T thought it was hilarious to act like a stiff cement slab when I was trying to put her seatbelt harness on, I was thankful I had a child healthy enough with the strength to do that (and one with a sense of humour).
No matter how frustrating it is at the moment, it could be worse! By pausing, and reflecting on a situation you can respond positively instead of react negatively.
6. Don’t be afraid to seek support.
If you are struggling, feeling down or not coping, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a hand.
It takes a lot of strength and courage to put your parental pride to the side, notice the signs of burn out and ask for support. There is no shame in admitting that parenting is tough and at the present time you’re just not coping like you think you could be. When you reach out, you might be surprised how much love and support you will get.
Reach out to those who understand you, care for you, those who know you and your social supports. Usually it only takes something small and simple that can totally revive you and bring your wellbeing back to the centre. 10 minutes of alone time, a deep and meaningful phone call to a best friend, a parents group, some one to watch the kids so you can go for a quick walk around the block to clear your mind, a cry on a loved one’s shoulder, a cooked dinner or some adult company. It is the little things that can invigorate you.
You are doing great.
Remember to take care of yourself, for you and for your loved ones.
I hope you take something away from this that is useful for your parenting journey.