Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

June 5, 2023

How to Manage Mommy Burnout

Although most days you execute like a superhero, other days can be overwhelming. Here's help.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you just didn’t have it in you? You don’t feel like running the errands, shopping, cooking or explaining to your children why they can’t have ice cream before dinner? So, you let them have the ice cream before dinner. You are not alone! Mommy burnout is real and every now and then the symptoms pop up like a sore thumb reminding you that you are in fact human. That burnout we experience simply means that the cup we pour from needs to be refilled.

Defining Mommy Burnout

What exactly is mommy burnout? It can be described a number of ways. Some may agree that it is the culmination of stressors which have peaked from performing at a high level over an extended period of time without waiver. In other words, it is the selfless act of a woman loving her family and putting them first. It is a mother who has grown tired, who needs a break and time dedicated to herself. And you know what? All of it is very normal.
    To heighten the conversation, as women became a firm fixture in the workforce in the 20th Century it generated study around subjects such as the ability of women to maintain it all for the family’s sake. Research conducted at Maven Clinic in 2020 found that working mothers were 28 percent more likely to experience burnout due to the unequal demands of work-life balance placed on working moms. The expectation: women can get it done. Women can have a career and be great matriarchs. The challenge with that, though, is overcoming the guilt of imperfections within parenting. Let’s not forget stay-at-home moms.

You Must Replenish

In today’s society, we’ve generally come to realize as a collective that being a mother is a full-time job. Nurturing, teaching, cleaning, cooking and disciplining while “soft parenting,” although a labor of love, is not for the faint of heart. A woman who commits herself to providing for her family with her undivided attention day-in and day-out will experience exhaustion. Full-time moms also have task lists and demands that raise stress levels, impacting their mood and overall health. Any prolonged exertion of emotional, mental and physical energy requires recovery time. It’s no different from an athlete leaving the field or getting off the court. Moms have to be afforded the opportunity to decompress and rejuvenate from all that they’ve contributed to their household in order to come back to their loved ones whole.

Expressing Your Needs

How can moms combat the symptoms of mommy burnout? The reality is, dropping your cape is not giving up, it is empowering yourself to be free enough to focus on what you need to be your best self. The first step in that freedom is expressing to your partner, family and friends that you’ve reached a critical stage.

Asking for help or sharing exactly what your needs are ensures that the message gets delivered to those who care most about you. It also provides them with a call-to-action. Aurora D. Rivendale, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, encourages check-ins with loved ones to help navigate what you are feeling and to spark your support system.

“If you’re [fortunate] enough to have a partner I would say touch base with that partner daily, if not weekly, on what your needs are,” says Rivendale. “If you don’t have a partner and it’s within the realm of reason, talk with family members or friends. Have someone be available at least once a week to give you some time on your own to do what you need to do.”

Being vocal about mommy burnout and the internal challenges you’re experiencing is critical. It enables you and your loved ones to be proactive in breaking down barriers that get in the way of your health and happiness. This also provides comfort in knowing you are not alone and that there are people who will come to your aid when times get tough. Having resources and an outlet as a parent is invaluable.

Psychology

“Burnout is a real entity,” says Rivendale. “But moms need to know is what is burnout versus untreated postpartum, anxiety, depression, PTSD or a more severe mental illness. There can be a lot of overlap in those symptoms.” Consulting with your doctor validates the experience from a medical professional’s standpoint.

“If you are dealing with lack of connection, lower mood, lower energy … while all the symptoms may be related to burnout, they could be related to depression or anxiety,” explains Rivendale. “My first suggestion is to bring it up with your primary care physician or OB/Gyn because they will be able to help you distinguish between those things.”

Engaging Your Circle

Allow your support network to support you – without guilt! One of the awesome things about parenthood is that you get to discover new networks of people who go through similar experiences who can offer sound parenting advice.

Moms need to be able to depend on others when life becomes challenging. It is the compassion of your family and friends that will see you through the stressful periods of life.

Self-care & Relaxation

“Find two minutes of the day where you can be mindful in some way,” says Rivendale. “Literally to connect and ground to the present moment. I have some patients who love finding an affirming phrase that emphasizes what they want to be intentional about – getting away from a list mentality.”

Meditation is one of several ways to relax your mind, body and spirit. This helps to put the things that are within your control into perspective and to accept those things that are not with a more peaceful heart. If meditation isn’t for you, find ways to release endorphins through exercise. Moving the body does wonders for brain health and overall mood. 

Enjoying THIS Life

It is an incredible job unlike any other to be able to raise human beings, nurturing them to be good people who one day will make positive contributions to the world. However, most importantly, moms are human.

Every human being needs intervals of decompression, therapy and the opportunity to have fun! That should not get lost along the journey of motherhood.

To all moms: take your well deserved break! Utilize your network to step away for a moment and care for yourself. Book that spa appointment. Buy that new dress. Walk in the park with your friends, enjoy date night with your partner and be your own advocate when mommy burnout happens.

Support for Mommy Burnout

For a roundup of moms groups in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, click HERE and search for “Mom Groups.:

  • Hyde Park Parents Exchange; hppe.wildapricot.org
    A parent support and socialization group.
  • Montgomery Moms; montgomerymoms.org
    A mom support and socialization group.
  • Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS); mops.org
    Local support group that partners with churches and organizations to equip and encourage moms. It has expanded to include moms with school-aged kids.

About the Author

Nyketa Gaffney

Nyketa is proud mother of a 15-year-old daughter who is bright, funny and an aspiring actress. She is a local freelance writer, enjoys creative environments and colorful personalities. Nyketa aspires to tour the world, write books, eat great food and inspire children to be their best selves!