The mom burnout struggle is real.
I’m sure every mama feels totally burnt out at some point. If not today, then yesterday. Or tomorrow. Or heck, every day.
It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom if you feel like you might have mom burnout. It actually means you’re probably a rockstar mom, and giving way, way too much of yourself.Click To Tweet
I’m only 4 years into Motherhood, and I’m not okay with being a burnt out Mama. Charred, I’ll take, but not burned.
I love Motherhood way too much to let it become a negative thing for me. I don’t want to be a super stressed, burnt out, busy mom. What I want is to be a happy mom.
We can either allow mom burnout to be our new normal or we can do something about it.
I’ve found that doing one thing has saved me from mom burnout. It’s made all the difference for me in my Motherhood and has helped keep me sane, happy & present even when I’m being pulled in a million different directions by a million different things and a million different people. Or by 2 small yet very demanding people. Same same.
Doing this has made me more patient with my children, my husband, bills, life, the dog and more when they’re singing the never-ending “Mom, Mama, MAMAAAAA” song on repeat. Because I really do love that song. It’s actually my favorite one. But when I’ve been jamming to one song on repeat for a hot minute, at some point I might need to take a beat before blasting it again. Know what I mean?
This is the one thing I wish I could tell every Mom—whether she’s a Mom-to-be, a new Mama, or a seasoned Mother—to keep her from feeling that almost inescapable mom burnout.
So what is it? Here goes:
Be protective of your time.
Did you just roll your eyes because I made it sound like such a big deal and then it was anti-climactic because it sounds so simple? Be honest. I bet you did.
Well guess what? You’re wrong. You’re wrong because it’s a huge freaking deal. Huge. And it’s also super hard to do.
In Motherhood, your time is rarely yours. Actually, I think there’s a universal but not widely recognized time zone called MOMTIME. And all Mamas operate on it.
It’s when your time is not your own. In fact, your time belongs to pretty much everyone else but you.
Think about it. Your time is spent either with, on, or for your children.
You’re either physically taking care of them OR you’re thinking about how to take the best care of them OR you’re actively doing things like grocery shopping & registering for the next school year to…wait for it…take care of them.
And if it’s not them, it’s someone else in your life. Or something else. Honestly, how could you not have mom burnout?
Because it’s your spouse.
It’s your pet.
It’s your job.
It’s your home.
It’s the bills bills bills. (cue Destiny’s Child)
It’s your email inbox.
It’s your to do list.
It’s your to do piles.
It’s your to do rooms. (just me?)
It’s your laundry. (Well it’s really THEIR laundry, but you get my point).
It’s. Your. Life.
And life is beautiful. But life can also be so freaking busy. So busy you feel like you can’t ever sit down. So busy you feel like you never have the time to get to the stuff you want to do. So busy you feel like there’s just “never enough time.” (Be honest, how many times have you thought that? Unless you answered “a million” you might be lying.) And so busy you can certainly never find any “me time.”
And you feel like that because it’s true. Because you don’t. You don’t have enough time. Not now, and if we’re being honest, you probably never will.
And that’s normal. That’s okay. Learn to be okay with it. Don’t think it’s just you. It’s not. Every single person I know feels that way, starting with my own Mama. Though she never let us—her children—feel it, my mom has had a textbook case of mom burnout probably since she became a Mom. As a child, I had no idea. As a mother, I see it so clearly now.
What happens with us humans is this: we have a million things on our constantly growing to-do list, and every time we might get one done, we think of 3 others to add. Some things are necessary and really do need to get done. Others are things we want to get done, sometimes for no real reason than just because we want to.
Yes we’re busy. Sometimes we do it to ourselves (hello, taking on stuff we don’t have to) and sometimes the universe does it to us (hello, thing called life.)But either way, we don’t get a gold star for being busy. Busy doesn’t mean successful. Busy doesn’t mean important. Busy doesn’t even always mean productive. Sometimes busy is just…busy. And sometimes busy is just wasting time.Click To Tweet
So what if I told you you could have time? Not enough time, but some time. For you. (No I’m not about to pitch you my MLM scheme, so calm down.)
Don’t want mom burnout? Be protective of your time.
I mean like really selfish with it.
For the little bit that’s yours, hold on to it. Freaking ball that time up and hide it and don’t let anyone get to it. Not even the people you love the most.
You have to be okay with being selfish with it. That can be really hard at first. It might even seem mean. Or just impossible. But if you want it badly enough, you can make it happen.
So how do you protect your time and stop being the busy mom (& start being the happy mom)?
Welcoming to Momming 101: Say No.
People will ask things of you. It might be your kid’s school. It might be your spouse. Or it might be your job.
Say No sometimes.
It might be your neighborhood. Or it might be your family. It might even be your children.
When you can, Say No.
Or if you really can’t bring yourself to say “No” then try “Maybe next time.” And then rinse & repeat that until they stop asking. (#sorrynotsorry)
I have two children. A 4 year old and a 2 year old. I’m in the mom burnout trenches, so to speak. And I’m a Stay at Home Mom. My kids are here with me all day. But I don’t want that to feel like a bad thing. Because it’s honestly the most beautiful part of my life. Soon enough, they won’t be here with me during the day. (I know, I know…here comes “The days are long but the years are short” talk. But you know what? It’s true. Don’t hate.)
I’m not ready for that day. I want to enjoy my time with them while their entire world revolves around me. When I’m with them, I try hard to really be with them. To be present. And not distracted by the million things I know I need to get to.
But that got me into a pattern. A remarkably productive but also unhealthy and ultimately unsustainable pattern that helped me “do it all.”
I was trying to be fully present with my kids when they were awake but because I was getting nothing done during the day I was then using every spare second when they were asleep or not at home to do all the things for all the people. So maybe I was “doing it all,” but I was not leaving even a minute to myself.
I think we all could “do it all” if we really wanted to. But at what expense? What would that even prove? Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
I’d work the whole time my kids napped and then they’d wake up and it’d be right back to momming (my favorite thing, btw….but every Mama needs a breath) up until bedtime.
And then after the kids went down one of 3 things would happen:
1. I’d be so tired I would want to go right to sleep, but it would feel so good to sit down that I’d sit on the couch doing nothing for 3 hours and then be so mad at myself I wasted all that time…and didn’t go to sleep
2. I’d spend time with my husband whether it’d be watching The Big Bang or having one
3. I’d keep trying to catch up on everything I hadn’t gotten to, neglecting sleep, down time, my spouse & myself in the process
But whichever one I chose, I was still feeling that mom burnout. There was nothing just for me. No true down time. Not at the beginning, middle or end of the day. Not any day.
I don’t do that anymore. I started protecting my time. It has changed everything for me.
How can you kick mom burnout to the curb? I’ll say it over & over & over. Protect your time. Pick a place to start. And make it yours.
Maybe it’s early in the morning. Maybe it’s your lunch time. Maybe it’s when your kid is at school. Maybe it’s after bedtime.
The first place I started with was my kids’ nap time.
I’m a SAHM so I’m at home with them during their naps. And I consider that nap time window absolutely sacred. For them and for me. They don’t just need it, I do. It has become MY time for myself. I do whatever I want to with it. I screen phone calls that I don’t want to take. Or I call the people I want to catch up with. I don’t answer texts. Or sometimes I catch up on 3 weeks worth of texts. I used to pay all the bills or unload the dishwasher and straighten up as soon as I put the kids down for naps. I don’t do that anymore. Unless I feel like it.
I. Do. What. I. Want.
And damn, it feels good to be a gangsta. (Or a Mama looking out for herself. Basically the same thing.)
I want to do things in my own life. Exciting things like this blog. Mundane things like cleaning out my own closet and not just everyone else’s. Selfish things like taking care of my skin. Foreign things like sitting down.
I got tired of trying to squeeze my entire adult life into a few minutes every night.
You can’t always save yourself for last, Mama. There might be nothing left.
You’ll feel tired. And beat down. And unfulfilled.
You’ll feel resentful. You’ll feel hardened. And impatient.
You’ll. Feel. That. Mom. Burnout.
And all those feelings will seep into every crack of you. And you will become unrecognizable to yourself some days. And you won’t like the kind of mom that impatience & exhaustion make you be.
So change it.
Sometimes the laundry can wait. Sometimes the organizing can wait. And sometimes the grocery store can wait…one more day.
Before you say it—yes, I know, and you’re right. Sometimes it can’t.
But, you don’t have to do every single thing you feel like you need to get done right this second. Just carry those things to the next day. Heck I’ve carried some stuff over to “the next day” for a damn year. No, I don’t like having it hang over me. But I’d rather have the time. It’s a trade off I’ve come to not only tolerate, but appreciate.
Some days I do laundry at the very end of the night and don’t let it cut into my time with my kids. Other days I do laundry throughout the whole day and put on a show (or 10) for my kids because I know I want the time to myself that night. But you know when I never do it anymore? Nap time. That quiet time ain’t got no place for laundry.
Now I’m so protective of my time you’d think it was endangered.
On second thought, it kind of is.
Because most of it really does belong to your children and family. That’s the nature of having a family and being a Mom. But the moments you can carve out for you? Let them be yours. That’s what I’m talking about.
I became so addicted to having my “own time” during nap time that I got desperate for more. So I’ve started waking up super early to get my “me time” fix. It’s not for everyone. But it turns out it’s definitely for me.
I sit on the couch in the dark with my laptop and coffee and I do whatever the hell I want. Mamas, IT IS GLORIOUS.
Carve out your own time and make it yours. Own it. Don’t let anyone get their hands on it. Even if they’re the cutest, sweetest & stickiest little handprints. I mean, they already get almost every minute of it.
I’ve become fiercely protective of my time. Maybe even a little bit militant about it. And I am such a happier Mama for it. A happier person. I might be behind on a million things but I don’t have mom burnout. Because I’m giving myself some minutes to do whatever I want to do and not just what I “should” do.
I’ve become so selfish with my time that if someone asks me to do something for them, it’s more of a “I’ll get to it when I get to it” than a “Sure of course let me take care of it right now.”
That is SO different from how I used to be.
Sure I might could get it done today. But I’ve been Momming nonstop and when I put the kids down for a nap I just might not want to. And I’m okay with that. It is an adjustment to be okay with that, but that adjustment feels gooooood. I’ve never been to a chiropractor but maybe that’s what it feels like. So damn good.
Everyone is short on time. That’s why we ask others to help us and do things for us…because by using their time it gives us more time. You have to be okay with not doing stuff for everyone else all the time. Not prioritizing their time over yours. That’s hard. I realize I might sound harsh.
But I’m practicing self-preservation. I’m also saving myself from mom burnout. And you should, too.
It took some growing pains, but I’m okay with not wanting to be the Supermom who does it all. I’d rather be the Super Happy Mom who does enough.
Because you know what? Enough—quite literally—is enough. Think about it. That’s the actual definition. That’s what it means.
You don’t have to do it all. You don’t even have to do more. Just do enough.
Now enough of this. Go do whatever you want.
How do you avoid Mom Burnout? Tell me below.
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