It may come as no surprise that “mom burnout” is at an all-time high. Talk to any mom, and she will know exactly what you mean when you say you’re burned out. Feeling burned out makes us feel crazy, sad, mad, and guilty. More of us are burned out than ever before, as evidenced by the State of Motherhood survey.1
Mom Burnout: What It Is and How to Help Yourself
This year mom burnout is up by 7 points to 93 percent. Not only do 93 percent of us feel burned out occasionally, but we are also burned out more often or all of the time. A few factors have influenced this, and it is clear that we need more support as mothers. We also have different things to deal with than previous generations did.
Signs of Burnout
There are a few symptoms to watch for if you suspect you’re getting burned out:2
- Poor self-care: When burned out, you have difficulty adding anything to your plate, including self-care. You may need this time desperately, but you’re unable to do things to preserve your physical and mental health.
- Exhaustion: While all moms are tired, exhaustion takes it to an extreme level. This kind of exhaustion is when you feel so exhausted that you have nothing left to give.
- No sense of accomplishment: Despite doing so many things daily, you have a hard time feeling any sense of accomplishment when you’re burned out. Instead, you feel unproductive and ineffective.
- Depersonalization: It can be hard to feel connected with others if you are burned out. You may be cynical, unmotivated, and detached from other people.
- Changes in mood or attitude: When you are burned out, your mood and attitude will suffer. Trying to be upbeat becomes difficult.
- Physical symptoms: In addition to all of the mental symptoms, you may also experience physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, hair loss, or chest tightness.
Why We’re Burning Out
Mothers are now dealing with something that we never had before in our generation, and that’s a pandemic. Most of us are not used to being isolated from friends and family. We are taking on more than we have before. These responsibilities could be teaching our children, housework, schoolwork, and having less time to ourselves. Many of these responsibilities weigh on moms.
Not Enough Support at Home
According to the Motherhood survey, 92 percent of mothers feel that society does not fully understand or support motherhood.1 This percentage has grown every year since the survey’s inception. We may think our bosses don’t know what it takes to be a mom and expect too much. We may feel like our partners just don’t get it. Paid family leave is not adequate. There are a lot of areas where we don’t feel supported.
We are so Tired
Many times we are the ones getting up with the kids at night. Whether this is to nurse, scare away bad dreams, get our little one’s glasses of water, or get up with anxiety because we’re burned out, we often get segmented sleep. Full nights of sleep are things of the past, which can take a toll on our bodies and minds.
Another interesting finding from this survey is that 41 percent of millennial moms say they’re having less sex because of the pandemic.1 Despite being at home more often, we are busier. Kids are home, too, making carving out time for our partners even harder. While sex isn’t the central part of a relationship, it is a crucial piece, and not having it can lead to stress in the relationship.
We are Missing a Village
Over half of the women surveyed say they do not have a non-family village for support.1 I know my few mom friends have gone by the wayside over the last year, so I completely get this. Even though this number makes sense, it is still unfortunate that we can’t find support as often with other moms anymore.
Comparing Ourselves to Others
Despite seeing people less often, we find ourselves comparing ourselves to them more. Social media has changed what we see in the lives of others. We connect with so many people through social media who post the best pictures of their lives. It’s important to remember that these are not complete pictures. There is a lot that we don’t know, and we only post the best photos of ourselves and our families that we want others to see. Comparing the worst days of our lives with others’ highlights will just leave you feeling down.
Career Struggles and Lack of Paid Leave
Holding a job and caring for our families is hard work. In an attempt to do it all, we burn ourselves out. We don’t get enough support during postpartum. Most of us don’t get paid family leave, so we struggle with money or head back to work earlier than we should. Between the lack of time and self-care, we are just plain worn out.
Expectations Put on Us by Ourselves and Others
All of the things above combined are why we are burning out. We put so many expectations on ourselves, and others expect so much of us. We have more pressure to work hard, bounce back, relax, and provide for our kids’ physical, emotional, and educational needs.
No wonder we’re burned out. We are navigating new territory, and mom guilt is a strong emotion. Even though we do so much, we don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit. Making time for ourselves and reducing our anxiety, whatever that looks like for you, is important to avoiding mom burnout. Moms don’t have to work so hard to be superheroes. In the eyes of our kids, we already are.