Mommy burn out is real. It’s something I am currently struggling with. Finding a healthy balance between the responsibilities of my marriage, the children, their schooling, the housework, my blog and myself, which is probably the most important responsibility, is proving difficult. Something has to give and it can no longer be my sanity.
In this series, I’ll be covering the following topics:
How to spot the warning signs of Mommy Burn Out
What are the main contributors to Mommy Burn out
How to avoid Mommy Burn Out
What to do if you suffer from Mommy Burn Out
Heidi de Jesus Ferreira from Powerful Mothering wrote an amazing post about 5 Stages of Mommy Burnout (she quotes Procaccini and Kiefaber, from Dobson’s book Parenting isn’t for Cowards). She highlights the 5 stages of burnout as:
1. The ‘Gung-Ho’ Stage
‘Compulsive moms’ feel the need to do everything themselves; are hesitant to leave the kids with anyone, EVER, and get almost fixated on child-rearing, immersed in it 24/7, 365 days of the year to the point of it being unhealthy for her, and her family.
2. The ‘Doubt’ Stage
Here, moms who have been a bit ‘compulsive’, pouring all their time and energy into raising their children in as perfect a way as they can, day in and day out, without every taking breaks to replenish energy spent doing all of this, become exhausted, irritable, prone to yelling occassionally.
3. The ‘Transition’ Stage
Called this, because decisions are usually made here that will determine the family’s well being for years ahead. Moms in this stage may feel exhaustion, self condemnation, anger and resentment, sometimes blaming the kids for their discontent. What was supposed to be an idealistic parenting situation when the kids were born, has turned into an exhausting, depressing loop.
4. The ‘Pulling Away’ Stage
If something(s) are not changed, the above transition phase is where a mom can get worse – a human mind will cope with a situation as mentioned above, in certain ways; it can only tolerate so much agitation. In this phase/stage, a parent or mom will pull away from her family, become ‘deaf’ to the kids pulling at her skirt, or the baby crying; she may resort to alcoholism or drugs to cope. She may overreact violently and punish wildly, and may have feelings of anger and guilt as she has moments where she feels she’d like to ‘hit’ the kids, or worse. She pulls away from family and friends, and is exhausted on every level.
5. The Final Stage
Procaccini and Kiefaber call this stage the ‘chronic disenchantment’ stage, characterised by confusion and apathy. Here, a mom is so burntout she loses all meaning and purpose to life. Her identity is blurred. Weeks can go by with nothing of significance being remembered, and she may have recurring suicidal thoughts, or of ‘cracking up’ or running away.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am writing this as someone who is/has battled with this topic. These symptoms mirror those of depression. In depression these symptoms would be magnified and extended. I highly suggest visiting your doctor if these symptoms persist after taking the steps laid out in this series.
Reference articles used in this series:
signs of mommy burnout and tips to help you avoid it from Steady Mom
5 Stages of Mommy Burnout from Powerful Mothering
3 Ways to Avoid Mommy Burnout from Huff Post Parents
Mothering Burnout: What it is. What you Can Do from Safe Motherhood
Are You a Burned-Out Mom? from Mom’s being well
20 Bad Habits That Contribute To Mom Burnout from Abundant Mama
Baby Blues: ‘Me Time’ Isn’t The Mommy Burnout Cure-All I Thought It Would Be from Mommyish
10 Ways to Achieve Mommy Burnout from Power of Moms
Maxed Out Parents: 5 Strategies to Ease Burnout from Psychology Today