The babysitter just called out sick and your partner already left for work. It's raining and you left your umbrella in the shopping cart last week and you keep forgetting to get a new one. The baby is crying, your toddler has five shoes (none of them matching, all of them for his left foot) and you forgot to switch the laundry last night so your clothes smell just a tad too mildew-y to wear in public.
And it's only 7:14 a.m.
And while none of these things reach crisis-level per se—you are on the very real verge of mom burnout.
We have all been there.
The truth is that being a mom today is HARD. Many of us live away from family, our schedules are packed full, and truthfully, life can just be overwhelming some days.
It's not that you don't love your family—of course you do. I know you're grateful for them every day. But that doesn't mean it's easy. That tired feeling sits heavy on your bones. And there are many moments when you feel so close to burnout.
Especially this year, when we've been burning out at each end thanks to pandemic motherhood. So many of our support systems came to a crashing halt when everything shut down last year, and things haven't really bounced back yet.
In our 2021 State of Motherhood Survey, 45% of mothers report being the primary caregiver for children in the household during the day, with Black mothers the most likely to say so at 53%. While about a quarter of mothers (26%) have a childcare provider for support, very few (4%) have a partner who takes the primary caregiver role or even shares the responsibility equally (10%).
These stats are serious, but take heart, mama. There are ways to fight it. By being intentional with your efforts, you can find ways to not only survive, but THRIVE.
1. Make sleep a priority
When moms get busy, sleep is usually the first thing to go, either because we're using the time to get stuff done or simply to have a few moments of peace to catch up on Netflix...alone...on the couch (aka in Heaven.) But research proves again and again just how vital sleep is to our well-being and overall mood. So go to bed early tonight, mama. Because...science ?
2. Find your oohhhmm
Whether through yoga, meditation or mindfulness, actively incorporating peaceful practices into your routine will help you feel centered and balanced as you go through the day.
3. Eat well
(Says the mom who ate the crust off her kids' school lunch for breakfast this morning ??.)
It's way easier said that done, but seriously, eating well is so important. Your body is a temple. Treat it as such! A well-fueled body will work better and keep you more energized through your busy, busy day.
4. Call your friends
You know that friend that makes you “ugly laugh?" Like, head back, tears streaming down your face, snorting because you're laughing so hard? (PS: You're actually not ugly when you laugh like that at all, you're adorable.) Call her. Whether it's a phone call, FaceTime or a night out, your girl-tribe will breathe so much life into you.
5. Say no
You wear so many hats and it is utterly exhausting. With every “Will you/could you?" you receive, ask yourself three questions—
Do I need to do this? Do I want to do this? Does this give me energy?
If you can't answer yes to any of those questions, the answer to the request is no. ❌
6. Ask for help
This job is simply too hard to do alone. You are already Super Woman, so go ahead and ask for help when you need it. Hire someone to help with cleaning, if you're able to. Or find a friend to swap childcare hours with—she'll appreciate the idea as much as you do.
7. Connect with nature
Nothing helps you feel grounded like...well...touching the ground! So, go outside and breathe in some fresh, clean air. Take your shoes off and get back to your roots. Whether it's a hike in the woods, a trip to the beach, or a simple walk around the block—being outside can be incredibly therapeutic ?.
8. Trust your intuition when you make decisions
Our days are full of decision making. From deciding if your kid can wear his Batman costume to school (again) and figuring out what's for dinner, to deciding how you want your career to look now that you're a mom—you are CONSTANTLY making calls (for yourself and for other people.) And it's tiring! Decision fatigue is a very real thing. Try not to agonize over every single choice you have to make. It's never going to be perfect. Let your intuition be your guiding light—it won't steer you wrong.
9. Schedule a date night
Let's face it—piles of dirty laundry, Cheerios sprinkled on the floor and Daniel Tiger do not set the scene for romance. But staying connected to your partner is very necessary. Your dates don't have to be fancy—sipping a glass of wine and sitting together on the front step is more than enough!
10. Move your body
Do whatever you love to do you get your blood pumping—go for a run, dance, swim, find a rock climbing wall...whatever floats your boat! Exercising will help fight fatigue and gives you more energy. ?
11. Treat yourself
When was the last time you bought yourself something? (No, paper towels at Target doesn't count.) While spending money isn't always an option, consider treating yourself to something occasionally—even if it's very small. A delicious piece of chocolate, a new book, a manicure...you SO deserve it.
12. Do something “unproductive"
Not everything in your day has to be something from your to-do list. It's OK (and actually encouraged) for to you do something just because it's fun. Spending time unwinding will allow you to feel more energized when you are tackling that to-do list, which will in turn help you knock those tasks out faster—and for that reason, the “unproductive" things may actually be way more “productive" than you think!
13. Make a list
I am one those “I have lists of my lists" people. And while that's probably a little too much, I have learned that lists really help me. (And with the help of my good friend Pinterest, I am getting into bullet journaling.) Lists help me remember stuff of course, but they also help me to clear my mind and stay calm—once I write something down, I can get it out of my brain until I am ready to turn my attention back to it. ✍️
Every morning, I decide what the top three things I want to do that day are. I'll often say, “What three things will feel the best to cross off my list?" It helps me to feel more in control of my day, and less intimidated by how daunting it all seems. And on a related note...
14. Focus on what you do accomplish
Our to-do lists are never ending and it's so easy to feel overwhelmed by all the stuff we didn't get to do. But every evening try to take a few moments to reflect on what you did do. You'll amaze yourself with how much you actually rock it each and every day ?.
15. Set up a system of sharing responsibilities
The mental load of motherhood is the REAL DEAL. Our brains are constantly swirling with ALL THE THINGS which quickly translates to burnout. But it doesn't have to be like that. Your partner wants to help you—sometimes they just don't know how. Set up a shared Google Calendar or iCal, so you can BOTH see what's going on for the week. Divide up household responsibilities in a way the feels fair to both of you.
16. Schedule you-time
Sure, having “me time" sounds wonderful, but how can you actually do it? So often we push ourselves to the bottom of the list, and before we know it another day has gone by with no time for you. I URGE you to prioritize yourself, and stick to it. Physically write some you-time into your schedule for the day (with a pen, not a pencil) and follow through, guilt-free—because happier moms make happier kids. ?
17. See a therapist
Therapists are amazing. They are impartial, easy to talk to people who can help you sort through the stresses of life and give you tools to cope with them. And you don't have to wait until you have a “real problem" before seeking out their help. We check in every year with our doctor and dentist, but what about spending time on our mental and emotional health? What if once a month you made an appointment with a therapist to just help clear your mind and refocus on what's important to you? How much better would we all feel?
You've got this, mama. Promise.