It's real and it's brutal: Mom Burnout. It creeps up on us a little bit at a time and, before we know it, we are consumed by it. We enter motherhood with an idealized vision of what life will be like, and in many ways motherhood is more beautiful and more amazing than we ever could have imagined. But in many ways it is more challenging and draining, more exhausting and depleting, than we ever could have imagined. After sleepless nights, the demands around the house, and day after day of constantly nurturing everyone else except ourselves, we find ourselves at the end of our ropes. This is Mom Burnout.
When mom is burnt out, everyone feels it: the words are harsher, the sighs are louder, the smiles are fewer. Suddenly everything in the home feels stressful and nothing runs smoothly. Mothers are pivotal, we are an anchor for the house and the family. When this anchor starts to lose its grip, the entire ship begins to drift away.
But these demands aren't going anywhere. Babies may sleep and they may not. Toddlers may wake up happy and they may not. Children may agreeably eat their dinner and they may not. So how do we notice the signs of Mom Burnout before we are consumed, before we are completely depleted? There are things we can do, things that can help us dig our anchor in just a bit deeper.
1. Speak up. Ask for help. Do not hold it in. Ask your spouse, your family, your friends, your neighbor. Reach out to support groups. Remember that it takes an entire tribe, a whole village, the community to raise a child. Reach out and connect. Help is a beautiful thing. Don't be afraid of it.
2. Release the pressure. Stop comparing. Our society has created this idea of a mother who has it all under control, every single day, without any help: a clean house, smart and obedient children, organic meals made from scratch, a never-fading smile, a sweet and gentle voice, and she showered, brushed her teeth and put on heels today. I haven't met this mother yet, not the one who pulls this off every day and on her own. The pressure to become this mother is heavy, so just release it. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. We all have our own challenges and mountains to climb. Let's climb together instead of trying to reach the top first. (Hint: There is no top.)
3. Take breaths, deep breaths, and root down in the moment. Motherhood is constant and it keeps us on our toes. So breathe, take moments to be where you are, exactly where you are. Be present in motherhood, even throughout the challenges. The inhale and the exhale will carry us through the struggles and allow us to experience what motherhood is handing us. We hold so much more strength than we ever could have imagined. And thank goodness for that!
4. Nourish yourself, really and truly. Schedule time. Make time. Demand a morning, a day, a weekend. Motherhood will empty your cup, and filling up your own cup will only give you more to offer those around you. So make it a priority. Make YOU a priority. One of the best things we can do for our kids is to take care of ourselves. Don't spend so much time and energy on everyone else that you forget yourself. You are important.