Not too long ago I was feeling like one of the exhausted moms that you may see everywhere suffering from mom burnout. If you haven’t noticed the mom walking around in a glassy-eyed daze, the mom not realizing that she’s wearing two different shoes, the mom with bags under her eyes the size of suitcases packed for a 3 week excursion, then you may be one of the exhausted moms who doesn’t have the energy to pay too much attention to anything happening around her.
I think most of us get to that point at least once and when we do, we may have a hard time even realizing it. It’s not like signs auto-populate above our heads that can read, “Exhausted Mom of Toddler.” We just live with the exhaustion and keep moving on.
What Is Exhaustion, Really?
Since I’m not a medical doctor and this article isn’t intended to give medical advice or diagnosis, I’m just going to share with you the definition of exhaustion straight from Google.
The main thing I want you to notice is that the definition mentions not only physical exhaustion, but mental exhaustion as well. Whether you’re a work-at-home mom, work-out-of-the-home mom, or a stay-at-home mom you always need to stay on your toes no matter what.
My Exhausted Mother Syndrome Story
I never knew that being an exhausted mom was actually a syndrome. Exhausted mother syndrome (or depleted mother syndrome) is a term coined by psychologist Rick Hanson and before I share my tips for you to stop being an exhausted mom, I want to tell you how I realized I was exhausted.
It wasn’t just one event that made me realize that I was an exhausted mom, but a series of “Why did I do that?”, “What was I doing again?”, and “I really don’t want to move. Can I just disappear into the couch cushions and be left alone for a while?” moments.
Yep, I was that lady who one day put the milk in the cabinet with the seasonings. I was the mentally exhausted mom who had to write down everything in a daily planner because the smallest tasks slipped my mind. The sad part is that I had several notebooks to write the tasks in and I’d forget where I left them.
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I was the physically exhausted mom who would finally have a chance to sit down and watch a movie with my babies, doze off a few minutes into it, and wake up when the credits were rolling. Luckily, the movies were interesting enough for my kids to watch the entire time I was asleep, so they didn’t get into any shenanigans.
Mom Burnout Hit Me Hard
The final clue I realized I was exhausted was when I was actually physically tired, but my mind was racing 100 miles an hour and it kept me up all night. It wasn’t like I was pondering the meaning of life or trying to solve a huge health crisis. It was little things like trying to remember what I had to do the next day, thinking about if I handled a certain situation the proper way when explaining things to my sons, or should I finally start writing the business courses I’ve been putting off for so long.
The next day I woke up, with less than 4 hours of sleep, physically and mentally tired. Since my husband was stationed out of the country at the time for over two years, I really had no time to take a break from my exhaustion. I made myself physically sick trying to keep up with everything and being the best mom I could be to my babies.
Some of my family flew in to help me out and give me a little break, just to get some rest because I was so burned out. My body and my mind couldn’t take the exhaustion anymore. Having to take a break from being a mom just because I couldn’t handle it anymore was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had. I felt like I failed at parenting.
You Chose To Be an Exhausted Mom
That’s not true, by far, but that’s what I told myself. I chose to be a mom, so I chose everything that came with it. If you’re in any mom groups on Facebook or any other online forums, then you’ll find a post about a mom being exhausted and not having enough time in the day to finish everything, let alone take care of herself.
It seems the norm amongst moms to give our all, just to wear ourselves out. Yes, in most cases (I’m not saying all) moms take up the bulk of parenting. It’s just a fact that’s been happening generation after generation.
Are we choosing to be exhausted?
Is there a way to make it all work without wearing ourselves thin?
After five years, I simply got tired of being exhausted. I didn’t want the brain fog anymore. I didn’t want to have to drag myself out of bed because I didn’t get enough sleep. I didn’t want my kids seeing me exhausted all of the time and struggling to get through the day. I needed to make changes that would impact my mental and physical well-being.
Whether you’re an exhausted mom of a toddler, someone who thinks she’s suffering from exhausted mother syndrome, or even a mom who doesn’t want to get to the point of complete exhaustion these tips for stopping mom burnout can help you make it through the day.
Tips for Exhausted Moms
1. Listen to Your Body
As moms, we’re constantly on the go. We wake up, get dressed, get breakfast ready, and make sure everybody is out of the door before we start our day. Our days are filled with conference calls from clients, grocery shopping, scheduling doctors’ appointments, and making sure everybody else stays on task. We will go, go, go until we’re running on fumes.
Before you even get to that point, just sit down and relax sometimes. If your body starts to ache, you have a slight headache, or you can’t remember the last time you sat down that day then it’s time to take a break.
You may think that you don’t have time for a break, but I’m telling you that you do. Pencil it into your calendar if you have to. Just make sure you sit down somewhere and take a load off!
Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night and eating a proper diet. Both of these will help with your energy throughout the day.
2. Clear Your Mind
As I said before, exhaustion can also be mental. If you’re not thinking clearly, have too much on your mind, or can’t keep track of things then you need to clear your mind.
Take at least 15 minutes to re-energize. You can lie down on your bed or sit quietly in a chair and work on your breathing techniques in order to clear your mind. A white noise machine can also help you relax if you don’t like sitting in complete silence.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Yes, I know. We think we can do it all and still not be one of the exhausted moms. This is not reality and we need to realize that there’s no shame in asking for help. Even if your partner is helping with parenting 50/50, if you feel exhausted from work, raising a family, or running a business, I’m begging you to ask someone to help you.
Having someone step in and take away a couple of your duties, even just for a day or so, will relieve tons of stress. I know it may be hard to have someone take over things that you’re so used to doing everyday, but if you don’t want to run around like a chicken with its head cut off because you can’t keep up with everything, then you really need to ask for help when possible.
4. Just Say No
Growing up we were always taught that it’s good to do nice things for others, so when someone asked us for a favor, we’d say yes because that was the polite thing to do. If a friend asked us to make her mom a birthday cake because we were really good at it, we’d say yes because we didn’t want that friend to think we didn’t care about them or their mom.
All of the yeses (is that even a word?) is what got all of us moms exhausted in the first place. Stop spreading yourself so thin that you’re tired all of the time.
It’s ok to tell your kids no when they ask if you can drive them to the other side of town to their friend’s house.
It’s ok to tell your friends no when they ask if you want to go on a last minute lunch date after you’ve been running errands all morning and just want to go home to rest.
It’s ok to tell family members no when they want you to bake six dozen cupcakes at the last minute for them to take to a potluck at work because they’re too busy to do it.
If you’re exhausted, it’s ok to tell them no. You can explain to them that you’re beyond tired and you can’t do it or you don’t have to give them an explanation at all. It’s your choice.
5. Connect with Other Moms
You may think that having a bunch of exhausted moms sitting around talking is crazy. Why would you want to hear about what another mom is going through when you have your own set of mom problems?
Well, let me tell you that being able to verbally get out your frustrations to someone who isn’t going to judge you is very therapeutic. You should feel free to talk about the things that are making you exhausted and stressed.
Keep in mind that connecting with other moms is a two-way street, so besides being able to talk you have to be a good listener as well.
If you don’t have other mom friends that you can connect with, you can always talk to your partner, family member, or even a counselor.
Do you feel like an exhausted mom?
What have you done to stop mom burnout throughout the day?