Rooted Mama Podcast
Episode 1: Healing from Burnout in Motherhood
Episode #1: Healing from Burnout in Motherhood
Did you know that burnout in motherhood is just as common as burnout in the workplace? We hear about career-burnout, but the stigma surrounding motherhood-burnout is stronger, and we often carry around unnecessary shame when we feel like we cannot do it all. In this episode, I define burnout, share my own worst case of burning out and how it impacted me, explore what burnout looks like in motherhood, knock out the stigma, look at the factors contributing to burnout, and consider ways we can work to take care of ourselves to keep burnout at bay!
I had my sixth child at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. It was during this time of uncertainty and homeschooling my five other children that burnout overcame me, and I felt like there was nothing I could do. The guilt I was feeling because of my overwhelm was real. My postpartum responsibilities were bewildering, and I truly wondered if I could handle motherhood. It took my husband sitting me down and directly telling me that I could not do it all that I realized he was right; doing everything all the time is impossible and is the recipe to burning out.
We hear the phrase “burnout” a lot, but what exactly is it? Burnout is a syndrome that develops after we’ve been exposed to prolonged stress. The key dimensions of burnout are overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism, and detachment from our responsibilities. Exhaustion is not limited to only physical depletion, but emotional and even spiritual. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and negativity, which keeps us in a cycle of shame, anger, and resentment.
The stigma attached to motherhood burnout is a struggle for all moms; we are often afraid that if we admit burnout or the struggles we face in motherhood, we will be labeled as unloving or weak. There is a very real lie that we revert to that says that if we are struggling with being a mom, it means that we don’t love our kids. This is not true! Our struggles with motherhood are not tied to how much we love our children. We love our kids and it is hard work.
In motherhood, we are in charge of taking care of so many different things that taking care of ourselves can feel like one more thing on a to-do list, making it easy for us to stop doing the basic things that keep us healthy and bring us joy. Mamas don’t always have a strong social support that can help us when things get overwhelming; family can live far away or not be a healthy dynamic, and our society does not prioritize maternal training and support, leaving us feeling isolated in our work of motherhood, and causing us to blame ourselves for feeling like we cannot do it all.
When burnout happens (and it will happen) it’s important to go back to the basics. When I was in the height of my burnout after having our sixth baby, my husband sat me down and told me I had to stop trying to do it all. He was right! I started getting our older children involved in the chores that drained me the most, starting with meal prep. The upside of the pandemic was grocery pick up and delivery, which helped this chore further. I also redefined what self-care looked like for me; I planned for consistent chunks of time for myself. I prioritized time with God and growing my faith. I let go of my expectations and stopped beating myself up for “not getting everything done.”
The best way to combat burnout is to work proactively to preserve your energy and consistently take measures to refill your own cup. While self-care looks different for every mama, I recommend three principles to build on when deciding how this will look for you:
- Replace the lies with truth; in my journey, I replaced the lie that I was a bad mom with “I am learning.” Working on my self-talk helped to keep me positive and overcome destructive shame.
- Ask for help; you are not meant to do it all. Think about what you need, and ask for assistance in accomplishing those chores. Delegate tasks, hire help, take into consideration the season that you are in, and let go of unrealistic expectations. Whatever you do, don’t take on every task yourself.
- Build a supportive community; find a trustworthy babysitter so you can have breaks, find other mom-groups (online or locally), find a therapist (this has been so helpful for me in sorting out my feelings), and hold tight to close mom-friends who know and support you. We need each other.
Mamas, you are not alone in your struggles, and you’re not a bad mom for having trouble, it is normal! And while being a mama is hard, it is also such an honor. We can find balance and joy in motherhood, and by being intentional with our self-care, we can stop the cycle of burnout.
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