1.Replace perfection with “good enough.” It took me years to realize how destructive the pursuit of perfection really is because for most perfectionists, perfection isn’t about striving for excellence but rather, it’s about fear of failure. Every single parent I know wants to do their best and not fail at what they consider to be the most important job on the planet, but perfection has a cost. According to research professor, Dr. Brene Brown, “Perfection is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds” (Brown, 2012).
2.Have a vulnerability outlet. When my brother and I were younger, my mom used to get together with other moms and play bridge. This was really code for “let’s talk about our kids.” Parents deal with new situations regularly, and having resources to call and ask, “Is this normal?” is invaluable (and necessary to preserve sanity!) This “vulnerability outlet” lets you drop your guard and confront the fears you might have about failing as a parent, while being reassured that parenting is messy business for everyone.
3.Focus on what goes right. Human beings are wired to seek out, notice and remember the bad stuff that goes on each day – it’s called the negativity bias. In order to counteract it, spend time each week writing down what has gone right along with a sentence about why that good thing happened and/or what it means to you. This simple exercise helps to generate positive emotions, which increase your resilience, lower stress hormones, and are contagious (Fredrickson, 2009). Your kids will “catch” your joy in the same way they would catch a cold.
4.Leverage hope. The three components of hope include having goals, feeling empowered to shape your daily life, and identifying multiple avenues for making your goals happen. In one study, hope proved to be a strong predictor of satisfaction, leading the study’s authors to suggest that hope is a symptom of happiness (Gallagher & Lopez, 2009). In addition, when it comes to children and how well they follow doctor’s orders, a child’s level of hope is a significant predictor of those who actually follow what the doctor says (Berg et. al, 2007). What do you hope for your family, and what goals do you have in place to get you there?
5.Build your mental toughness. Optimistic thinkers think in a very specific way when setbacks happen. Specifically, they are solution-oriented and see quickly where they have control, influence, or leverage, they know that the adversity won’t last forever (this too shall pass), and they compartmentalize well so that the stressor doesn’t impact other areas of their life (Seligman, 2006). More importantly, optimistic thinkers are healthier (Cohen et al., 2003), happier, and less depressed (Abramson, 2000) than their pessimistic thinking counterparts. Optimistic thinking is one of over a dozen simple skills that have proven to be effective in building personal resilience and mental toughness.
Mia Redrick, who blogs for Huffington Post, recommends these 3 Ways to Avoid Mommy Burnout:
1. Write down everything that you do for your family and include the small things.
2. Give yourself a break. Literally. Schedule breaks into your day as a mom.
3. Stop trying to seek balance in your every day and instead, focus on finding joy.
Mia’s suggestions are practical and easy to follow. Writing down every thing you do, gives you a visual of your tasks and you can then decide what to delegate who which family family member or to schedule it at a more convenient time.
Jamie Martin, who blogs on http://www.steadymom.com, shares these tips on avoiding (or finding your way back out of) burnout:
1.Recognize that daily time for yourself is crucial, not only to your self-care, but to the care of your whole family.
2.Understand that your resources, especially your time, are finite. This means that there is an honest-to-goodness limit to the number of things you can do.
3.Cut something out of your day. Your day may overflow with good tasks, things that you value. But even too many “good” things lead to burnout, so choose the absolute best and let go of the good–at least for a season.
4.Learn to spot your personal signs of burnout when they first start so you can make a change before you plunge into a full freefall.
In my Mommy Burn Out post next month, I’ll be sharing my own story and will be updating you all on how my new routine is working for me and how far I am in achieving all my goals.
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.
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