How to Recover from Mum Burnout: My Story

How to Recover from Mum Burnout: My Story

When the pandemic hit, it felt like I was in the newborn phase again as I hardly left the house and I was isolated: classic signs of mum burnout.

Like so many other women, I went in and out of mum burnout and anxiety as the pandemic continued longer than anticipated.

Battling motherhood burnout eventually led to me creating Parent Self-Care as a means to support other parents who were struggling.

So, here are the key tools that helped me, as an exhausted mum, and the parents I worked with as a marriage and family therapist.

In this article: 📝

  • What does mum burnout feel like?
  • How do I get back from mum burnout?
  • How do stay-at-home mums deal with burnouts?

What does mum burnout feel like?

Burnout was first defined in 1975 by Herbert Freudenberger.

According to him, elements of burnout are emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (decrease in empathy and compassion), and feeling less accomplished.

Based on this definition, parents experiencing burnout are emotionally fraught, have a harder time connecting to their kids, and feel a decreased sense of accomplishment in their parenting.

In 2020 the American Psychological Association found that 46% of parents stated their stress level was between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale (with 10 being the most stressed).

And while mum burnout isn’t a clinical diagnosis, it’s important because there’s a great degree of overlap between the signs of burnout and the symptoms of depression.

These similarities might include feelings of hopelessness and guilt, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, isolation, changes in appetite, increased substance use, and sleep challenges.

But mums, if you’re experiencing burnout there is hope.

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How do I get back from mum burnout?

If you’re experiencing mum burnout and you’re looking for a way out, I hope I can help.

I’ve been there, and these were some of the ways that helped me recover from mum burnout and boost my parenting joy so I could reconnect with my child.

1. Prioritise self-care

When you’re burned out, self-care might seem like one more thing on the to-do list.

The goal is to figure out what realistic and meaningful things will work for you.

When times are tough, these are the self-care activities I put at the top of the list:

  • Rest. Rest includes sleep, but also relaxing activities such as closing your eyes on the couch for a few minutes, reading, drawing, or watching a comforting or funny TV show.
  • A good cry. When motherhood is hard, let it out. Crying releases stress hormones, and we often feel a release after a good cry.
  • Move for mental health. Get some fresh air and walk around the block or do a few jumping jacks. Even a couple of minutes of movement can improve your mood.
  • Laughter. Belly laughs allow us to offload difficult emotions, and can strengthen relationships. You can text a friend about a funny memory, or turn on that movie that is guaranteed to get you laughing big-time.

2. Connect to your core values

When you’re emotionally exhausted and feeling unsatisfied with what you have accomplished as a parent, come back to your core values.

Focusing on one or two core values can help you prioritise what deserves to take up space in your life, and it gives us a sense of meaning.

If you’re unsure what your core values are, you can read this list to help you prioritise what matters to you during this season of motherhood.

For example, if one of your core values is connection then it might be easier to leave the house messy and get some rest feeling positively about a moment of connection with your child earlier in the day.

3. Embrace community care

Community care went viral in a 2019 Facebook post.

This post highlighted what so many mothers were wanting, a focus on community care instead of feeling as though their wellness was an individual responsibility achieved through the “right” self-care practice.

Here are some of the ways you can embrace community care when you are in the trenches of mum burnout.

Find new friends nearby

A connection is made every 3 seconds on Peanut.

Meet, chat and learn from like-minded women.

Create the village you need

Reaching out to birth workers, childcare providers, and medical professionals can make great additions to the support you need to raise your child.

In the U.S., much of the postpartum period focuses on the baby, not the mother.

The OB-GYN you’ve been seeing weekly goes away after the 6-week follow-up visit, and you’re left to go back to your primary care physician.

We all know it takes more than six weeks to physically and emotionally recover from birth, so you can reach out to other supportive providers such as a night nurse, doula, therapist, or doctor about your physical and emotional well-being.

Say ‘yes’ to seeing friends even when you’re tired

Being with friends gives you energy, even when you’re tired.

Motherhood can be isolating, so do not let those invitations pass you by to see friends even when you know you will be fighting a few yawns.

It’s also about breaking the stigma that we have to have things “right” all the time.

Make friends with mums with older kids

This is a great way to build your community while also being able to tap into a group that can offer guidance for the next chapter of motherhood.

Peanut is a great place to start when it comes to meeting other mums!

Give back to other mums when you have capacity

We all remember the mums that were there for us when we were in the trenches, and it feels good to pass on that gift to the mum friends that have children after us when we have the energy.

Find new friends nearby

A connection is made every 3 seconds on Peanut.

Meet, chat and learn from like-minded women.

How do stay-at-home mums deal with burnouts?

Although mama burnout can be a painful experience, no matter whether you’re working or a SAHM, you do learn more about your warning signs so that you can catch yourself before ending up in full burnout mode again.

I’ve experienced burnout multiple times professionally and as a parent, and each time I’m able to add to my toolkit to better care for myself.

Here’s a free relapse prevention plan I created specifically for mum burnout.

I hope you can be gentle with yourself as certain seasons of parenthood are more taxing than others.

It might not be realistic to avoid burnout as parents, but we do deserve to recover from burnout and enjoy more well-being in motherhood.

And most importantly, you are not alone.

We’re all with you.

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