As mothers, we often put the needs of our family before our own. This can lead to stress and exhaustion, resulting in a condition known as mom burnout. But should moms feel tired all the time? In this article, we will explore what mom burnout is and how to manage it so that you can enjoy your motherhood journey.
Mom burnout is a condition characterized by feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, guilt, and stress that come from the pressure of being a mother. It’s often caused by trying to juggle too many responsibilities at once or feeling like you can’t keep up with the demands of parenting. You may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite. Mom burnout is very common in motherhood, so does that make it normal?
The answer is no! While it may be common, mom burnout doesn’t have to be normal. It is important to recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed and take steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place. To learn more about how to manage mom burnout and make motherhood a positive experience, keep reading!
The Beginning of Mom Exhaustion
Mom exhaustion can start to seep in even before your children are born. The physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy can create a feeling of exhaustion even before your baby arrives. New mothers often feel overwhelmed with the demands and preparation of caring for a newborn, which can lead to further exhaustion.
The first trimester of pregnancy alone can be exhausting for many women, as their bodies go through many changes. During the second trimester, many pregnant women will regain some of their energy and morning sickness may subside. This is when many new mothers feel more energetic, but the exhaustion can creep back in during the third trimester as the baby grows and your body prepares for childbirth.
Then there’s the term we refer to as “baby nesting”, where some moms spend days and nights getting the house ready for their newborn. This can also cause exhaustion, as it involves a lot of physical effort and planning which is in addition to your normal everyday responsibilities.
I remember sitting at work in my 8th month of pregnancy saying to my boss “I miss being tired from hanging and staying up all night with my husband”. This was after hearing one of my co-workers mention she’d been out hanging the night before, knowing she had to get up in the morning for work. To me, that tired was nothing compared to the exhaustion I felt from being kicked in my ribs all night while trying to sleep, sitting up right to combat the heartburn my unborn baby was giving me.
Even though I felt that was as tired as I’d ever be, people kept saying to me ”oh just wait”. I had no idea what they meant. I figured ”babies sleep most of the day away, I should be fine”. I had no idea just how tiring motherhood could be, as I was only pregnant with my first child.
Mom Exhaustion Leads to Mom Burnout
It’s important to know that whether you’re pregnant, postpartum, a new mom, or a veteran mom of many children, mom exhaustion can quickly lead to burnout if it is not addressed. After the baby arrives, many new mothers experience a range of emotions and challenges as they adjust to life with a newborn. The physical demands of pregnancy, labor, and newborn care can cause exhaustion even in the most prepared woman.
In addition to that, the emotional roller coaster of parenting can often leave mothers feeling overwhelmed and under supported. Add to this the pressure to ”do it all” as a mom, from being a perfect mother to making sure your child is meeting all their developmental milestones, and you’ve created a recipe for mom burnout.
What Exactly Is Mom Burnout?
Mom burnout is a term that’s been on the rise in recent years, and it refers to emotional and physical exhaustion that can affect moms of all ages and backgrounds. It’s not just feeling “tired” or a little overwhelmed, but it’s a sense of complete depletion that can leave moms feeling like they have nothing left to give. Worse, it can even affect emotional, mental and physical health functions. Motherhood is a rewarding experience, but it can also be an exhausting one.
Mom burnout can manifest itself in several ways such as feeling irritable, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, and a sense of hopelessness. The causes of mom burnout are varied and complex, but they often stem from a combination of unrealistic expectations, lack of support or resources, and a constant need to juggle the demands of home and work life.
It is important for mothers to recognize the signs of burnout and take control to intentionally make changes, or seek support from family and professionals to prevent it from becoming a serious health issue. Let’s not forget that even super moms need a little TLC and self-care sometimes! If you’re feeling like you might be experiencing mom burnout, know that you’re not alone, and taking steps to prioritize self-care can go a long way in helping you regain your energy and sense of balance.
The Main Causes of Mom Burnout
There are many factors that can contribute to mom burnout, but some of the main ones include a lack of support, unrealistic expectations, stress or anxiety, and difficulty managing both home and work life.
Lack of Support
Without a strong support system in place, dealing with the pressures of raising a family can quickly become overwhelming. Not having enough help from family or friends is a very common source of stress for mothers. This often leads to feeling overwhelmed as they try to juggle the demands of motherhood and all that comes with it.
Being a mom is undoubtedly one of the toughest jobs in the world, and it’s even harder when you don’t have the support you need. Nowadays, mothers are expected to do it all and have it all together. But the truth is, sometimes that’s very unrealistic and burnout is a real thing. It can be especially debilitating for moms. It’s important for moms to know that they don’t have to go at it alone.
Knowing when to ask for help is key in helping moms manage their stress levels and avoid burning out. If you ever feel like you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed with motherhood, don’t hesitate to seek help from your partner and family if possible, and know that there are resources available that can help alleviate some of the burden.
Support groups, mentors, church groups, and counseling services are great starts for finding support and help through motherhood. You can also check with your insurance provider for recommendations and help that is covered in your health plan. Having a reliable source of emotional and practical help can make all the difference in preventing mom burnout. After all, a happy and healthy mom makes for a happy and healthy family.
We ourselves, along with society, often place unrealistic expectations for mothers to be perfect, which can lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Often, mothers are expected to juggle multiple roles flawlessly, such as being a nurturing caregiver, a supportive partner, and a successful professional.
Moreover, social media and celebrity culture perpetuate a perfect motherhood narrative, which can be detrimental to real-life mothers who may struggle with comparison and wanting to meet these expectations. The constant comparison is what leads to self-doubt can lead to guilt, anxiety, and exhaustion.
It’s time to reject these unrealistic expectations and embrace the true, real life experiences and realities of motherhood. As a society, we need to recognize and support the efforts of mothers who are doing their best, rather than hold them to impossible standards. As moms we should be more kind to ourselves and give ourselves the same grace God gives us each day.
Mom Anxiety and Stress
The stress of being a parent can also take its toll and cause feelings of anxiety or depression, which can in turn lead to burnout. Mom anxiety stems from a wide range of things, such as worrying about your children’s safety and well-being, the pressure to be perfect, financial stress, marital stress from lack of time together, and so much more.
Some women experience anxiety as a result of genetic predisposition, while others may develop anxiety as a result of their lifestyle. Anxiety leads to stress when it is not managed properly and can lead to physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Which for moms, can lead to mom burnout.
It’s important to recognize signs of anxiety in order to manage it before it turns into burnout. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, it’s important to reach out for help from your family doctor or a mental health professional.
There are many types of counseling services that can help you better manage your emotions and learn coping skills for managing the pressures of motherhood. If you are religious, seeking help from God and spending time in prayer each day, can also help you overcome any feelings of stress, fear, and worry. Some other helpful coping strategies may include exercising, journaling, taking walks, reading, or talking with a friend.
Trying to manage both home and a career can be a difficult balancing act. Women often feel like they need to choose between being a good mom or having a successful career; but with the right planning and support, it is possible to have both, if necessary. And, if you have a supportive partner, or traditional marriage, you may even find that choosing to be a stay at home mo would be a healthier choice for your family. To learn more about how being a stay at home mom can be a great choice for your family, including financially be sure to refer to What is a Homemaker: Characteristics, 20 Responsibilities, Tips, and Benefits.
Setting realistic goals for yourself and creating a plan of action that allows you to manage your commitments in a healthy way, is key in helping moms create a healthy work-life balance.
The Multi-tasking Mom
Multi-tasking is seen as a typical, almost necessary skill for mothers to juggle their multiple roles and responsibilities. Many moms trying to manage their children’s needs, their marriage, home, work, self- needs and other daily activities, will have mastered the skill of multi-tasking by now.
This can be overwhelming at times, and it is important to take breaks
My son is almost 4 years old, and he still LOVES being held, taking walks through the house, helping me do chores, and cuddling before naps. He still spends parts of the day in my arms. It’s the sweetest thing ever, but of course it can still be tiring, especially at 37 pounds!
Preparing meals, cleaning, getting dressed, and shopping with one hand takes some skill! It also takes double the time. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But, the problem with multi-tasking is that even though it is necessary at times, it should be a standard, as it often leads to feelings of overwhelm and fatigue.
Aside from the physical stress of multi-tasking, it can also be mentally exhausting when your mind is constantly shifting from one task to another, and many at once. Always having to be “on the move” can lead to burnout, so it is important for moms to take time away from their tasks and responsibilities and simply slow down.
Mom Brain Is Real!
Aside from multi-tasking to complete daily tasks, there’s so much running through a mother’s mind. Deciding whether we should eat; sleep; get groceries; shower; spend time with our spouse; or clean during our baby’s 1-2 hour nap, or before we have to pick them up from school again can make you feel exhausted before you even begin. Choosing what to prepare for dinner, remembering to schedule doctor appointments and thinking of ways to be a better mom, the list goes on and these are our constant thoughts as moms.
Mom brain is real, and the mental exhaustion that comes with it can make a mother feel overwhelmed. It’s important to take time for yourself each day, even if its just 10 minutes, (although the more the better), to clear your mind and re-energize.
I’ve also found that keeping a planner, writing things down, using a meal planner and chore chart, all helps climate some of the constant thinking and planning in our heads.
Lack Of Sleep
As mothers, we often take on a multitude of responsibilities revolving around our children, partners, and work. It’s no wonder that with everything going on, we often sacrifice sleep in order to check off more on our to-do list. However, this lack of sleep can quickly lead to burnout.
At the end of the night I’m normally up an extra hour or 3 after everyone’s asleep. I’m either trying to shut my brain off for the night, or trying to catch up on as much work as I can while my hands are free.
As a mom, we are always aware and cautious. So even after we finally get to sleep, we’re still not fully asleep. Somehow, we hear every movement our baby makes, know exactly how many times they turn through the night, and wake several times to nurse, feel their temperature, check their diaper, lock the baby gate, check the noise machine, and make sure they’re comfortable. Which is why is why even after a full night’s rest, we still feel exhausted in the morning.
The truth is that sleep is vital to both bodily and emotional functions. As difficult as it can be to get a good night’s rest as a mom, it’s so very important to our health, well-being, children and families, that we prioritize it. Lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of mom burnout. Without it, we are unable to function at our best.
It’s important for mothers of all ages and stages to get a good night’s rest as much as possible. Whether this means cutting back on late night work, saying no to social events, or asking your partner to help more, make sure you’re prioritizing your sleep and setting yourself up for success.
We Can Be Our Worst Critics
Naturally we’re our own critics, we want to be more than enough for our family, as well as the best versions of ourselves. That means we seek perfection in every thing we do. Just being a good mom isn’t enough. We want to be the BEST mom, wife, friend, family member, girl boss and look our BEST while doing it. And though things are so much different than when our parents raised us, society doesn’t go easy on us millennial moms either. Not to mention, babies are pretty demanding and I’m often reminding myself who’s boss. A mother’s job is already never done!
For me it was trying to meet milestones on a precise timeline, learning the healthiest baby food recipes, researching natural health and lifestyle choices, staying educated on vaccinations, minimizing screen time, teaching sign language, encouraging self-soothing and independence while still breastfeeding, homeschooling, instilling christian values, and providing maximum love and support, I mean the list goes on and on.
A mother’s job is simply never done, and quite honestly we don’t want it to be. Being a mom has become our top favorite and most important priority, we enjoy caring for and loving on our little humans. We can’t even imagine a life outside of motherhood and demands, but still…we get tired at times.
Judgement From Society and Family
Society is hard on us moms and family can be even harder. Family opinions have a way of getting to us, although we’d like to think that it doesn’t. We all want the approval of our families and friends in regards to how we raise our children. So when they make comments on what we’re doing wrong, it can be a huge reminder that we are not meeting the standard of motherhood, which can cause self-doubt and anxiety to creep in. Which again, can lead to mom burnout if we feel that we’re not doing enough.
Sleepless nights, tiredness and anxiety are just a part of motherhood. Yet, somehow we often feel bad for admitting we get tired and ashamed of constant worrying and anxiety.
Being a parent’s a pretty big deal. This often makes others around us see us as “different” or “changed”. The friend they used to hangout with a majority of the time and call any hour of the night, is now tired and unavailable.
It can take time for close friends and family to adapt to our new lifestyle. Even our husband or partners are having a hard time getting used to dinner and laundry being a little later than usual. So just imagine how we feel adapting.
Many people believe “it was a mom’s decision to start a family so we should be fine, and able to do it all without ever getting tired”. At least that’s what some people will assume. I mean, when did being tired turn into a complaint rather than a feeling? No one, parent or not,
can stop their body from getting fatigued after a busy day, not even if we wanted to. It’s not a bad thing to feel exhausted, it’s just a thing, especially for moms.
It’s completely normal and okay to feel, and admit that being a mom can be tiring at times. Remember that every family and situation is different. You don’t have to fit into any mold or follow any particular path to be an effective mom. Everyone has their own way of parenting and you should never feel bad or like your way isn’t good enough. You are the best parent for your family, because you know them better than anyone else and you love them more than anyone else does. So never settle into feeling like you have to suppress your feelings and self-care, to fit someone else’s version of parenting.
“Being tired means you’re a good mom”
Nowadays, it seems that many people praise and glorify women and moms being tired and overworked. I get it, doing what’s best for our babies, as opposed to what’s convenient for us can be very exhausting at time. For example; making home made baby food is more tiring than serving pre-made baby food, reading books and encouraging supervised play over screen time can be more tiring.
Though, that doesn’t mean we should ignore our all-being and health. If we can’t find a balance between motherhood and selfceare, are we really able to give our all to our children and family? And, if you’re not tired and overworked, does that make you a bad mom, or mean that you aren’t doing enough?
The reality is that you are doing enough, and that it is ok to admit that you need a break from motherhood. It doesn’t make you any less of a mom, in fact it will help you become an even better one. So don’t be afraid to take time for yourself and allow your body to rest and recover. That’s what being a great mom is all about. Furthermore, what type of standards are we setting for our children if they normalize seeing us, as their moms exhausted, tired and ignoring their health?
I’ve learned the hard way that ignoring my own health, physically and mentally, has a negative effect on my ability to care for my family. I believe that practicing self care is a quality that a great mother must have. When you’re healthy and well rested, you are much better equipped to take care of others.
It’s important we prioritize all that is important, our babies, and ourselves. Then and only then shall we seek to fill our schedule with extra tasks and responsibilities. Most of all it’s important we find balance and do what’s best for our family, regardless of how it looks for other families.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey of motherhood. We are all tired and overworked at times, it’s just a part of the job! So take care of yourself and be kind to your mind and body. Being a tired mom doesn’t mean you’re failing.
At the end of the day, being a mom can be very tiring but it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean you are a bad mom or not doing enough. Taking care of yourself and your family is essential for living a healthy life.
When my little one looks up at me with a smile, I know that even the tired days are much worth it! So, to the tired mom who’s ashamed to admit it. I hope you know that it’s okay and you’re allowed to feel tired. You’re doing a great job and your children will thank you!
It’s okay to admit when you’re tired and overwhelmed from motherhood, it doesn’t make you any less of a mom. Take the time to take care of yourself and practice self-care, and soon enough your energy will be restored. You can do it! Don’t forget that you are special and perfect just as you are. Mothers are strong, amazing people who should never feel guilty for taking some time for themselves.
So make sure you take the time to rest and recharge, so that you can give the best of you to your children!
Good luck on this journey of motherhood! You’ve got this!