5 Tips On How To Cure Motherhood Burnout
In my last post I came clean about how I stopped trying to be a perfect mom. For me, being a perfect mom meant trying to do and be all the things. It was causing me to become miserable and burnt out.
But think about it: how can I be the best mom (and wife) I can be, if I am not functioning at my best because I am stressed, exhausted and stretched too thin?
Mom burnout is a legit real thing, and it’s not something I want to be real in my life anymore. And if you’re reading this post, I am sure that you’re feeling the same way. So here are five ways we mamas (I say ‘we’, because let’s support one another in this thang!) can unburden ourselves and lighten our loads to avoid burnout:
Okay, please don’t roll your eyes and laugh at me! I know you’re thinking, Girl, I barely have time to shower consistently. Where am I gonna fit in self-care? But hear me out for a sec! This is so important!
Let me ask you a question: how has giving of yourself - in the daily nurturing, rearing, running errands, etc. - on an empty tank - your empty tank- been working for you? Are you happy running around on fumes? DO you feel like you’re giving your best to your family?
I don’t ask this to guilt you, I promise! I ask this to open your eyes that you’re doing your family, and especially yourself, a disservice when you try to pour out from an empty well. You can’t give what you don’t have.
So figure out what makes you happy, what fills your tank, and do that more often. And self care doesn’t have to be expensive or all time consuming. For me, self care is making sure that I take a more-than-two-minute shower each night while my husband gives my son a bath. Self-care looks like waking up each Saturday morning, leaving Eli with my husband, and escaping to Starbucks to work on my business and blog (I’m actually typing this at Starbucks right now!).
For you, self-care can be making sure to take a nap when your kiddo(s) take a nap. It could be taking time to read your favorite book, or getting some fresh air each day. Or it could be the big shebang: nails did, hair did, everything did!
The point is to just find ways where you can recharge and fill up your tank. Talk to whoever you need to talk to, schedule and make plans for whatever you have to, and just do it! Make that a priority, and see what a difference that makes.
Set up a routine
If you’re a mom, you’ve most likely seen the cute Pixar movie Sing, right? (And am I the only mom that knows all of the songs by heart?) For those who haven’t seen it, there’s a mama pig in the movie by the name of Rosita who has 25 piglets (yes, twenty. FIVE. And we think we’re exhausted!).
Anyways, she wants to compete in the singing competition so badly that she doesn’t let the fact that she can’t get a babysitter to watch her piglets stop her from making it work. In true, unrealistic, cartoon-world fashion, she stays up all night making this automated, assembly line system that allows her to take care of the kids, her husband and her household and practice for the competition without skipping a beat.
Now that’s a mama with a routine! I know this is a cartoon, but could you imagine having a routine so legit that you can set up something like that and the household keeps going? They didn’t even notice Rosita was missing!
Obviously we live in the real world, and you probably don’t want a routine that structured, but it would be helpful to at least have some rhythms in place so that your family generally knows what is coming next.
For example, my family knows that after dinner and we hang out for a bit, that we turn the lights down and prepare Eli for his bath. I sneak off for a shower, and then once both Eli and I are clean, we snuggle into bed for nursing, a book, and then night-night for Eli.
Another routine I have is in my cleaning: I have certain days I do certain chores so that I am not overwhelmed on the weekend trying to clean everything. This is also helpful for if I need my husband to step in and help, which brings me to my next point…
Ask for help
Of course you can ask without having a routine, but delegating tasks to someone when you have a system in place makes it so much easier - for you and them. Again, mama, we can’t and shouldn’t do it all. We need to start being okay with asking for help.
If you’re like me and struggle with control, start by just asking for help with things that won’t grind your gears if they aren’t done perfectly or the way you’d do them. For example, while Toby does an amazing job, he doesn’t clean the bathroom in the same way I would clean it, but I care more about the end result - a clean bathroom. Who cares if he cleans the shower this way, while I would clean it that way? At the end of the day, the shower is clean.
What would also help is if you play to the strength of the person you’re asking help from. Your mama-in-law is an excellent cook? Ask her if she’d make extra of a dish she’s cooking and freeze it for you so that you have one night where you don’t have to cook dinner. Your ten year old just loves helping with the dishes? Let the child do the dishes!
Tiff, that all sounds good and dandy, but I don’t even know where to begin to ask for help and delegate.
Don’t worry, sis, I got you! On to the next tip!
The 3 by 3 Rule
Okay, I totally made this rule up - at least I haven’t heard anyone else come up with this. Comment below if you’ve heard of this.
This was inspired by the three-item to-do list, also known as the Rule of 3. Instead of picking three things you’d like to accomplish for the day or week, or whatever, pick three areas that you’d like to focus on and be good at. Remember, the goal is to stop trying to do it all, which means that we have to let some things go.
Pick three areas in your life that are important to you, and focus on being your best in those three areas. That doesn’t mean that you neglect the other areas, but it means that you do what you can in those areas and keep it moving.
For example the three areas that are of importance to me, and that will stress me out if they fall apart, would be: a clean home, a healthy lifestyle for my family, and quality family time. Obviously other things like adventure, education, etc. are important to me, but I can’t try to handle all of that at once. I will do my best in those areas, but they aren’t top priority.
After I got my three areas, I break each area down even further into three areas of importance. For example, for the clean home, my three areas of importance are the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room. Does that mean I don’t pick up my bedroom, or ignore laundry? Nope. I still do those, but it’s not as big of a deal to me if I can’t get to those every single day. But a dirty kitchen will stress me out, so that needs to be take care of daily!
Then I would break each of those down by three again. Again with the home, for my kitchen, it is really important for me to have 1) no dishes in the sink, 2) clean counters, and 3) food put away in the fridge and cabinets/pantry.
Basically, you would keep breaking this down so that a) you know exactly where to put your focus so you’re not running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to do everything, and b) you now know what to delegate and ask for help with.
If you’re sick or super busy one day and your husband, mom, or friend asks you what you need help with, you can know exactly what would be the most helpful to you (because how many times has someone asked you what you need help with and you’re standing there like a deer stuck in headlights because you can’t pick just one thing, and instead want to yell out “everything! I need help with EV-ER-Y-THINGGGGG!”).
Makes sense? To break it down even further for you and to help you come up with your own 3 by 3, I’ve created a printable workbook for you that comes with a nice little checklist at the end that you can pass on to whoever asks you what you need help with!
And finally, the last tip to avoid burnout:
Just say no
This is something I am honestly still learning, but seriously, just say no. You’re not being mean if you say you can’t attend, do, or be something. My mom always remind me: the only person you’re being mean to is yourself when you don’t say no to something you don’t want or can’t do. So if you’re worried about being mean, remember you’re being mean to yourself.
But it is so true, and it goes back to the first tip I gave about self care. It doesn’t mean that the things you’re saying no to are bad things. Like I’ve read somewhere: something can be a good thing, but not a God thing. If God isn’t calling you to do that thing, then it’s okay to say no.
If quality family time is important to you, then say no to everyone and everything that requires you to constantly be away from your family. You can miss that birthday party. Your son doesn’t have to be in all the sports.
And also say no to that inner, critical, perfect mama who wants to pressure you to overextend yourself!
I know it can be frustrating to try to do everything and then get burnt out by it, but remember to give yourself some grace, mama. Recognize that you aren’t meant to do and handle it all. God created you, and all of us, with limitations. Remember that where you fall short and where you are weak, He is strong and can and will carry the burden.
I truly hope this has encouraged you, and that you’ll have fewer days of burnout. And if anyone hasn’t told you today: you’re doing an amazing job, Mama!
Got any other tips on how to avoid burnout that you’ve learned, or that someone has shared with you? Share the wealth of knowledge and let’s encourage one another!