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MOM'S BURNOUT: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Exhausted, fed up, and disconnected from your kids? You might be experiencing mom's burnout.

MOM'S BURNOUT: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
The signs of mom burnout and what to do about it.

The signs of mom burnout and what to do about it.


It happened to me! After the first two weeks of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the news arrived that our time at home was extending indefinitely. The kids stopped going to school and began distance learning. I set up everything in the house so my five school-age children could have their own space to study without interrupting each other, which was a mission that seemed almost impossible.

I remember it as if it were yesterday; it was in mid-March 2020 when the lockdown began. My son was 15, my daughters were 14, 9, and my twins were 5 years old. On top of the constant battle to keep them sitting in front of their computers, I had a full-time job that I was doing from home. This madness lasted for two years, and when we finally emerged from lockdown, I felt that I had no more energy left for anything. I wasn't the only one suffering from chronic burnout.

According to a report by McKinsey & Company, in 2020, 32% of women felt burnt, compared to 28% of men. In 2021, the gender gap increased to 7 percentage points and this trend continued as a survey conducted in May 2023 by Ohio University revealed that 66% of parents reported feeling completely exhausted.

What is burnout, and what is its impact on mental health?

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is classified as an "occupational phenomenon" rather than a medical condition. The new report focuses on "parental burnout," which describes it as feeling exhausted, irritable, emotionally detached, or overwhelmed by parenthood.

The study found an association between burnout and depression, anxiety, alcohol consumption, and aggressive parenting tactics, including insulting, criticizing, or physically harming children.

How does parental burnout affect our children?

Like any situation involving extreme stress, burnout can lead to problems in your relationship with your partner and your children. The instability it creates in the home can increase the likelihood that children will become more easily distracted, argue with their peers, or feel sad or unhappy. Additionally, it can lead to inconsistent parenting practices, difficulties in bonding with children, or difficulties in providing a stable and loving environment.

How do we recognize if we are experiencing burnout?

In my case, the pandemic caused a feeling of burnout that I didn't understand at the time. But as mothers, due to the multiple household responsibilities that include taking care of the children, worrying about their schools, chores, housekeeping, and, in some cases, even household management, on top of a full-time job outside the home, we may experience chronic burnout at any time. The important thing is to recognize it, so that we can do something about it.

MOM'S BURNOUT: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
The signs of mom burnout and what to do about it.



What are the symptoms of burnout?


  • Constant fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Guilt

  • Feeling inadequate

  • Making excuses to avoid being present

  • All your interactions with your children are negative








Once you identify the symptoms, the experts from Ohio University recommend the following:


  • Establish routines

  • Be kind to yourself

  • Don't set unrealistic expectations

  • Don't commit to doing too much

  • Don't feel guilty saying "no" to something

  • Talk to a trusted person about how you feel

  • Find time for yourself

  • ASK FOR HELP


What worked for me

During the pandemic, everyone's schedules at home became chaotic, especially work that kept me in front of a computer until very late at night. I had to finish work after taking care of the needs of my five children. The stress was so great that chunks of my hair started falling out, and I felt a kind of anxiety I had never experienced.

What helped me slowly emerge from this state of anxiety was remembering that I had experienced overwhelming moments before when my five children were very young. All mothers experience them sooner or later, regardless of whether they have only one or several children. I stopped and thought of the phrase I used to repeat over and over during those stressful moments, a phrase I had completely forgotten during the pandemic "one diaper at a time." It means taking things as they come, one step at a time.


Whenever I felt overwhelmed by stressful circumstances, I would take a deep breath, maybe shed a few tears, and repeat the phrase that has become a mantra in my life, "One diaper at a time," and then I would continue.


If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to breathe, take things one at a time, and if you still feel anxious, ASK FOR HELP.

What do you do to combat burnout?

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