This post and its photos may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy.
Inside: Mom burnout is a real thing. There are good reasons moms are so tired, and we will look more at that below…but if you are feeling overwhelmed, we look at nine effective ways to conquer mom burnout today…ways that aren’t eating right or exercising – although those are great ideas too.
🔥Overwhelmed with choices?
🔥Anxious about seeing everyone’s perfect lives online?
🔥Worn out by the demands of life?
🔥Tired of the umpteenth screen time battle of the day?
🔥Patting yourself on that back that your kids didn’t electrocute themselves today.
I know. It’s draining…
And after days, months, years of running on the hamster wheel, mom burnout is real.
We need to have eyes in the back of our heads, be perfect, eat perfect, look perfect.
I’ve been through many bouts of serious mom burnout. I know firsthand how deep the fatigue can settle into your bones.
So for right now, I’d like you to stop multitasking, let go of the to-do list running through your head, put the kids in their rooms if you must, and give yourself permission to take five uninterrupted minutes to read this article. It will be five minutes well spent.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
For the past few years, every Thursday, I have a date with my local Buddhist center for approximately an hour and a half of blissful meditation and a deep, thought-provoking talk on Buddhist wisdom.
Shoes are removed, herbal tea is waiting, and we take our seats. What follows next is half an hour of pure and heavenly silence (meditation) and then an hour of the most stirring mindful, inspired discussion.
I leave there feeling like I’m walking on a cloud.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Of the weekly sessions each month, I might make it to 1.
On a good month.
Ironically this dose of calm is exactly what I need, but the truth is, I’m usually too weary and tired to pry myself off the couch. Binge-watching Netflix seems like much less effort.
I’m not without valid excuses; I’m busy, of course. I have a full-time job, a 7-year-old, a house to maintain, endless errands to run, dinner to cook every.single.night., and I don’t even want to talk about the very arduous task of bedtime each evening.
But the truth is my disquiet runs deeper than just being busy or tired.
And here’s the problem:
The Mom Burnout Problem
I often feel overwhelmed. Flooded. Battered by the velocity and density of life.
It assaults from all angles.
A simple trip through the grocery store finds me staring at the cooler of what seems to be a hundred yogurt cups, wondering which is healthiest for my family.
What if I pick the wrong one?
One might have too much aspartame or sugar or not enough probiotics.
This decision nearly cripples me, and sometimes I wander off without any yogurt at all.
This scenario repeats a dozen times throughout the store.
And the grocery store is just one small component of my day.
Our nervous systems are under constant attack. There is the nightly news, negative and unyielding, the endless social media feeds, and this new age pressure to be perfect.
Be the perfect parent—the perfect partner. Look perfect. Have a perfect house.
I wrote an entire post about why we need to stop trying to be perfect.
Our bodies are in constant overdrive.
Not only are we caring for these little people who solely depend on us to keep them alive and happy, but we have to make all the right decisions, have eyes in the back of our heads, have good hair days more than not, and be successful too?
No wonder we feel overwhelmed.
Many women won’t admit they are quietly suffering; it becomes our dirty little secret.
And no yelling at your kids isn’t the way out of this one.
These days it’s hard to count on the world outside. So it’s vital to grow strengths inside like grit, gratitude, and compassion—the key to resilience, and to lasting well-being in a changing world. True resilience is much more than enduring terrible conditions. We need resilience every day to raise a family, work at a job, cope with stress, deal with health problems, navigate issues with others, heal from old pain, and simply keep on going. “Rick Hanson, Best Selling Author
Mom Burnout Symptoms
If you feel that you are experiencing mom burnout, there are a few symptoms you can be on the lookout for?
You get the point.
So if lately, you’ve felt like you’re just over your kid, know that you aren’t alone. Don’t suffer in silence; take action.
Here’s the thing:
You might wonder just how to help mom burnout, and I’m here to tell you that there are effective strategies we can adopt to bring our bodies back to neutral.
To not only cope but thrive in this parenting journey.
And they are easy to implement, and you can start right now.
How to Stop Mom Burnout and Be Happier
1. Put down your phone
You might wonder what this has to do with mom burnout; well, it actually has a lot to do with it.
This is listed first because it’s becoming an epidemic.
Ping. Buzz. Tweet. The way to loud AC/DC anthem!? (Don’t we all know someone who has a ring tone such as this?)
Our phones are taking up SO much of our energy. Like, I can’t even possibly explain just how much.
Put your phone away for as much of the day as you possibly can.
I’m serious. Sometimes I throw my phone in my drawer at work and check it only on my lunch break and then right before I leave for the day.
If it’s impossible for you to break away, try a 15-minute break every two hours. What is the chance you are going to miss something monumental?
Famous psychologist Daniel Levitin says, “Here’s a way of thinking about technology that helps me rein it in: When I’m constantly checking texts and emails, I’m allowing other people to decide how I spend my time. If you want to approach your life more mindfully, you need to choose when and how you interact with others.”
Not to mention while being obsessed with being the perfect parents, partners, and people, we overlook that our kids are witnessing us staring into our phones like zombies. Have we stopped to consider the effects of this monkey see behavior?
Create technology boundaries.
Not only do we need to be mindful of our phone addictions, but we need to set technology boundaries in general.
Don’t check your email more than three times per day. Delete distracting apps and turn off notifications.
Designate a time to sift through the dump of emails and focus on what’s important.
Perhaps even do a sweep of your inbox unsubscribe from unnecessary email lists. Except for this one, of course 🙂
Clear out the clutter to make more room for the necessary.
2. Mini breaks throughout the day
We are so burnt out because we haven’t let our minds rest in SO SO long.
Your mind needs to rest throughout the day. And yes, every day.
For one minute on the hour, close your eyes and take a breathing break. Check out these 60-second relaxation tips for moms.
Breathing is simple and incredibly powerful.
I’m obsessed with this breathing exercise and I try to do it every day.
Do not skip this step; I can’t emphasize enough the influence this can have on your mental health.
If you are really, really busy and rolling your eyes thinking, “I don’t have time to sit and breathe,” then you need to do this step even more than most.
- Breathe in through your nose and hold the air in for several seconds.
- Purse your lips and gradually let the air out.
- Carry on until you feel more relaxed.
3. Know your purpose in life
The most important thing is to remember the most important thing. Just because we are parents does not mean that we don’t have a self outside of being a mom.
We need to (and should) remember and nurture that.
One great way to avoid mom burnout is to reengage with parts of ourselves we used to be. We are still those people; we can still love those things.
You might find yourself asking, but what is the most important thing?
More wise words from Rick Hanson: “The most important things often get pushed to the sidelines. Modern life is full of distracting clamor, from text messages and emails to window displays in the mall. Other people tug at you with their priorities – which may not be your own. But if you don’t make a sanctuary for what is important, it will get overrun by the Bermuda grass of B and C priorities.”
Hanson suggests writing down what is important to you in one word, phrase, or sentence. Don’t worry about perfecting this phrase; simply write it down.
Your phrase should be in positive terms and in the present tense. For instance, say, “I love spending time with my kids” rather than “I will stop being distracted when spending time with my kids.”
Say your sentence out loud.
Expert Hanson then suggests clarifying your priorities: health, marriage, career, spirituality, or parenting?
Then break it down even more. Health could become losing 10 pounds or improving flexibility.
Then rank your priorities in order of importance and let your top priorities draw you in their direction.
After you’ve completed this self-reflection, look at your list of priorities and ask yourself, “am I giving my time, attention, and energy in portion to these priorities?” And sit with the question and answer for a while.
Begin to build your priorities into your daily schedule. Perhaps a start a yoga class, set a weekly date night, study more.
Supplements for Burnout
4. Spend more quality time with your kids (and the pets)
We often get really hung up on being there for every single thing our children do. Like every possible waking minute of every day. Whether that’s rescuing them from every uncomfortable situation or simply never letting them be bored.
But the thing is:
We don’t need to be there every second. We can let them have quiet time in their rooms; we can let them go to a friend’s house to play. We can spend time apart and have it be okay.
Here’s what I suggest: Focus on the quality of time you spend with your kids. (Read 45 epic family fun nights ideas here).
Family Conversation Starters
Make dinnertime a talking time with these 120 printable family conversation starters.
Oh, and while we are on the topic of quality time with the family, don’t forget to pet Fido.
Research has shown one of the most effective ways to unwind is to spend time with the family dog. It actually releases oxytocin, the hormone of love, and reduces heart rate and blood pressure, even more so than music. (Although music is proven to be a great stress reliever as well).
A dog’s enthusiasm is infectious, and simply spending time with them leaves owners feeling more optimistic and less preoccupied with everyday stress and worries.
Psychologist Dr. David Lewis of Mindlab International said: ‘You’ve had a tough and stressful day. The boss has been on your case, the children playing up, the shops packed, and the traffic bumper-to-bumper. Now all you want to do is relax and unwind. Actually, forget the TV and interact with the dog instead. The research we conducted shows this is a profound and effective stress reducer and increases feelings of contentment and relaxation.’
Okay, enough about the dog, you get the point.
5. Pare down decision-making
Every day our brains are assaulted with a zillion decisions. What or where to eat? What to wear to work? When to work out, or what class to attend? What to do with the kids today? Another coffee? Grocery list?
These endless decisions are like being on a treadmill, and the speed gradually increases until eventually, we can’t keep up, and our brains shut down and fly off the track.
Statistics estimate that people make an average of 35,000 decisions every day (Hoomans, 2015). That’s an insane amount of decisions.
Decision fatigue is the idea that people are only capable of making a certain number of decisions in a day.
By trimming down daily decisions, we can give our brains a significant break. Make as much of your life habitual (don’t worry, you can add the spice of life later) so that you don’t have to decide. Go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday, make Sunday’s spaghetti night, and Monday’s leftover night. Do your grocery shopping on Wednesday evenings.
Creating routines is meant to reduce the number of decisions we make daily. Making coffee right away waking up is as automatic as breathing for some. Routines reduce decisions and thereby reduce stress and overwhelm.
6. Focus on the positive
We live in a world where shocking news events are a daily occurrence. It’s proven that this shocking can be enough to create symptoms of acute stress and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
The onslaught of anxiety colors the way we see life.
Our natural tendency is to focus on the negative, so when we hear something awful or feel sad, we need to focus on something positive.
And this something positive can be anything, no matter how small. When you have a good experience, notice it. (A good meal, a cup of tea, a sunset).
Stay with this feeling for 30 seconds.
Does your heart feel lighter? Are you smiling?
Pro Tip: Hang one of these printable affirmations on the washroom mirror each morning. You and your kids can repeat the phrase while brushing your teeth.
I Need These!
Repeat this process, and it will become a habit over time; you will stay in this positive state for longer and longer.
If you’d like some epic tips on reducing anxiety, check it out here.
If you struggle with worry, you might want to check out our 3-month guided Worry Journal. This could be just what you need to jumpstart your positive thinking. Or read here about why and how a worry journal will stop worry in its tracks.
7. Stop multitasking
Huh, what did you say?
If you are anything like me, you might pride yourself on your efficiency to complete an Ironman set of tasks within one day.
But here is the problem: studies show that we actually aren’t any busier than 30 years ago; we just feel busier because we never take a break from our devices, so we rarely get a moment’s peace.
This 24/7 connectivity makes our life feel more crowded.
Multitasking works the same way and ups that compression stocking feeling as well. It keeps us out of the present moment. It keeps our mind congested and heavy, like Times Square during lunch break.
In the morning, choose a single project to focus on that day. If today is the day to schedule the dentist appointments, don’t try to schedule dentist, eye, and doctor appointments.
Take full advantage of your lunch breaks, make the time meaningful, go for a walk, close your eyes, breathe.
Less is more. Make room for peace and calmness. Choose one thing to focus on each day. One thing!
8. Take a red pen to your schedule
Get out your pretty floral calendar, pick up your favorite red pen, and hack it up. Anything and everything that doesn’t need to be in your schedule cut it.
Learn how to say NO. I’m a people pleaser, and I will say yes to everything, but lately, I’ve been learning how to say no. It’s okay. We need to stop sacrificing our sanity to please the whims of other people.
If you aren’t interested in the group snow tubing day, politely say you can’t attend.
Be ruthless. Do it. Don’t apologize.
9. Do one load of laundry every day.
I’ve simply added this one to the list for fun. But although I’m half-joking, I’m also so not joking.
This is a suggestion that all the cleaning gurus make, and it’s genius.
Finding ways to stay on top of household duties is essential to managing stress.
Laundry piles the size of Mt. Everest leaves me feeling suffocated. Doing one load of laundry per day ensures it never gets out of control.
It’s my secret weapon of calm.
Mom Burnout Quiz
Survey monkey has a mom burnout quiz you can take here.
Final thoughts on Mom Burnout
The truth is, my sanity doesn’t lie downtown at my weekly meditation class or even at my Sunday morning yoga class, as amazing as these practices are, but my sanity lies in every moment I choose to tune into life and quiet the storm of my own mind.