Every mom spends a lot of time comparing herself to Perfect Mom. Perfect Mom is young and thin, with perfect hair and manicured nails. She has her days planned out to the minute and never misses an activity for her kids. She cooks every meal from scratch, does crafts projects with her kids, serves on the PTA board, and volunteers for church activities. And she does all this while still working part-time when it comes time to pay for college tuition. Oh, did I forget to mention that she has her own personal trainer and works out every day?
This attitude is so damaging. Trying to live up to crazy expectations puts you straight on the road to mommy burnout. Let’s explore some reasons you might be so stressed, and what you can do to help.
What causes stay-at-home moms to be so stressed?
Most stay-at-home moms work hard to take care of their children and want them to have the best experience possible. But they often push themselves too far past what is healthy for them.
There’s a lot of a mom’s plate: you’re responsible for the kids, the laundry, the house, dinner, and everyone in the family has their own expectations of what you should be doing.
You have no real boss, no clearly defined work hours, and no actual time off.
This is extremely stressful.
First, some tough love: martyring yourself is unhealthy and a terrible example for your kids. You should be setting a good example by teaching your children to take care of others while still taking the time to take care of themselves.
Stresses of dealing with infants and toddlers
New stay-at-home moms are often overwhelmed by the amount of work and stress involved in caring for infants and toddlers.
Very young children often don’t sleep through the night, which is stressful for everyone. But it’s especially stressful for you. Mom is, of course, the one to continue to stay up late hours of the night taking care of very young children.
Being a mom with an infant or toddler can be really hard. Most stay-at-home moms have to deal with many tantrums and tears from young kids all day long. It can be frustrating because they know that their child is upset but cannot make them stop crying.
Good routines and structure for little kids are helpful, but the truth is that infants and toddlers are a lot of work, even under the best of circumstances.
You need to learn to take care of yourself, so you don’t burn out in the first few years of motherhood.
Burnout for moms of older kids
When you’re in the trenches with little ones, you often can’t wait until school age. And in a sense, life does get easier. At least the kids are more self-sufficient and can be reasoned with. But parenting older children has its own set of stresses. Burnout is a common problem for stay-at-home moms.
Kids of this age now have outside activities: school, sports, and clubs. And who is expected to manage the paperwork, coordinate the schedules, and drive the kids everywhere? That’s right. Mom. You have to stay on top of homework, study for tests, and stay connected with teachers. You have to coordinate afterschool activities and extra-curriculars such as music lessons.
When your kids are older, and in school all day, most people expect you to go back to work, which adds more mental stress.
Working moms often wonder what stay-at-home moms do all day, and the answer is often driving their kids’ places. Really, the short time that everyone in the house is in school usually is only a few short hours before you’re back in the car.
Common Burnout Symptoms to Know:
As stay-at-home moms get more and more stressed, they can start to feel as though something is wrong with them.
This is not true at all. Burnout is widespread among moms and is nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s absolutely NOT a sign that something is wrong with you.
Here are some signs you are getting close to burnout or are experiencing too much stress:
- Feeling tired all the time•Feeling overwhelmed by your workload
- Feeling like you can’t handle the tasks of parenting anymore
- Being frustrated with yourself because you cannot get your child to behave.
- Trouble focusing and concentrating on tasks that need to be completed
- Having memory problems, such as forgetting things or losing items
- Starting to feel depressed or anxious
- Physical problems, like injuries that won’t heal or an illness that won’t go away
Suggestions for staving off stay-at-home mom burnout
Stop comparing yourself to others
Don’t let others dictate your schedule. This is very important for stay-at-home moms because many of the things they feel like they need to do are often pressures from other stay-at-home moms and not from their own families.
Who cares if all the moms volunteer at the school every week and go to mommy-and-me pottery classes? Let them. You don’t have to.
Allow yourself time to relax.
Your children will need to learn how to function without you when they grow up, and they won’t be able to do that if you are always hovering over them. Kids who get too much attention from their parents often end up having low self-esteem because they think everything they do is never good enough.
Find time for adult conversation
Once you’re reunited with your husband at the end of the day, take some time to talk together. Your child should understand that this is a time for both of you and learn not to interrupt when you are speaking to another adult. I know it’s a hard habit to teach, but after a day at home with just little people, you need time to have an adult conversation. Besides, waiting their turn is a good skill to have.
And make sure you have friends who are in the same stage of life as you. Have a support group of stay-at-home moms who understand and can relate to your struggles
Help your kids be more independent
Everything your children can do for themselves is one thing off your plate. So as soon as possible, allow them to dress, brush their teeth and clean their rooms. Kids of a certain age love to help you and love to be independent, so it’s a win-win situation.
(This is not exactly a short-term solution, so tackle this one you’re starting to feel a little better.)
It’s easy not to want to do this, but it makes a huge difference.
When you really need a break, get outside. Even if it means you have to take the kids with you, the fresh air is worth it.
Get outside of the house. Take a walk, run an errand or go to the park with your family.
A simple change of scenery can calm your nerves and help decrease some of the stress you are dealing with at home.
You’ll feel better when you get back. And if you don’t, at least the kids will be tired.
Exercise is not just about looking fit. It has a huge effect on your mood. And even though you might not love to hear this, being active is probably the best way to relieve some of that stay-at-home mom stress.
Exercise should be incorporated into every stay-at-home mom’s day–even if it means getting up early before the kids wake up. (There is actually science behind this: it send a message to your brain that you have outrun whatever is causing you stress and completes the “stress circle”, letting your brain relax.)
Just because you don’t go to work, doesn’t mean you don’t work hard
It’s hard to be a mom. You have so much on your plate, and you always feel like there isn’t enough time or energy left over for anything else in life. Maybe it feels like your kids are constantly asking for more of your attention, and every day is just one long string of “no” as you try desperately to get everything done that needs doing without sacrificing the rest of yourself along the way. We know moms can burn out pretty quickly when faced with high expectations from their children, spouse – even themselves.
Take care of yourself. ❤️