How do you know when you’ve reached the burnout point? It’s different for each parent, but check out this list for similar signs.
Signs of Mommy Burnout
You might have reached mommy burnout if . . .
- A mini-fridge for your mini-van is at the top of your holiday wish list. (This means you spend more time in your car than in your house. You’re constantly driving kids around to appointments, athletic practice, lessons, etc.)
- The drive through attendant at a fast food restaurant asks how your mom’s surgery went. (Unless your cousin works at McDonald’s, it’s not a good sign if you’re on a first name basis with the person on the other side of the drive through window. This means that you’re using the drive through to feed your family more often than you prepare food at home.)
- You check the flight and bus departure schedules for your area more than once a month. (You’re looking for a fast escape on a routine basis. Most moms dream of running away at times, but if you often feel trapped by your parent responsibilities, you might have reached the stage of burnout.)
Your personal symptoms may look different, but you get the idea. If you feel a sense of desperation more days than not, then you’re probably experiencing a condition than is running rampant throughout the industrialized culture – parental burnout. This ailment has also been labeled as supermom syndrome, overparenting and HPE (helicopter parenting exhaustion.)
I’ve experienced the symptoms of parent exhaustion first hand. Hey, I’m a parent educator. It’s my job to know and practice great parenting skills and see the results. Because I’m constantly looking at parenting practices, reading parenting books and teaching best practices for parenting, I tend to put parenting in a serious light and try to do my best.
The Long Term Effects of Supermom Syndrome and Overparenting
Achieving super parentingdom seems like a great goal, that is – until you experience the side effects. To be on-call 24/7 is physically and emotionally exhausting. Doctors aren’t on-call all month long. Pilots are restricted on flying hours to prevent fatigue. But good moms just keep going. Like the Energizer Bunny, there’s something powerful inside of us, driving us to bang the drum each day sounding the rhythm of bath, story and bedtime, of school meetings, athletic practice and laundry.
But the truth is that all batteries run out of energy. Without a recharge, batteries are useless at some point. If you’re not recharging, you’ll notice that you’re moving slower and slower each day. The long term effects of not recharging are
- feelings of resentment
- depression or a sense of hopelessness
- lack of sex drive
- loss of sense of self
- grouchy momma all month long
Why Good Parents Get Burned Out
If you’re burned out, it means that you care a lot about your kids. It means that you take accountability seriously. Good parents are the ones who get burned out. So if your maternal battery is extra low, pat yourself on the back. You’ve been working hard.
Now, cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be a perfect parent – just a good one. It’s okay to lower your standards a little bit if those standards are unachievable in the first place. Are you possibly expecting to reach a goal that isn’t humanly possible to master? Remember, you have needs too. If you continue to give your all to your kids, there will be none left for you and your battery won’t supply energy anymore.
Take Time to Recharge Your Battery
Thankfully, your internal batteries are the rechargeable kind. Many things will breathe new life into you. “Oh, yeah?” you say. I know, I know. You’ve forgotten what your needs are and about the things that get you energized. You’ve been paying so much attention to the needs of others, you’re out of touch with the fact that you have needs.
Take a Baby Step Towards Self-Care
Many moms reach a point where they don’t even know what they’d do for themselves if they had time. That’s why most moms have to do a little internal discovery. What will recharge you now? Are they the same things that energized you before you became a mom?
Becoming a mother changes us. We may like to do some of the things we did before our material instincts developed, but we also may be looking for new ideas that better fit with who we are now. I’ve struggled with this exact issue and had to learn through trial and error what things really gave me a positive charge and what things didn’t.
I’m a parent educator, a Positive Discipline Lead Trainer and I’ve experienced full burnout status. It’s taken me a while to get good at self-care and I’m hoping to help you acquire this skill faster than I did. I’d love to help you discover what will work for you – what will recharge your batteries.
I’ve created some activities to help parents rediscover exactly what fuels them and to nudge parents to think in broader terms about nurturing themselves. I put these activities into an eworkbook called The Self-Care Starter Kit for Parents Who Do Too Much. I created this eworkbook especially for good parents who are devoted to their kids, but sometimes forget that their own batteries need energy too. Are you one of those parents?
The Self-Care Starter Kit for Parents Who Do Too Much
Do you need some recharge? Is your battery level super low? Would you like to start with a small step? Again, I’d love to help you. I want you to become a calmer parent, a happier parent and a more balanced parent. We all need cheerleaders and I’d like to be one of yours.
I know it may not be easy to take that first step towards nurturing yourself. The thought of taking care of you in any small way may trigger feelings of bad parenting, instead of good parenting. I hope I’ll be able to change your mind about that and help you get clear on the fact that in order to have a surplus of energy to give your kids, you have to give back to yourself. Are you seeing the connection yet?
I wish I had learned some self-care tools sooner than I did. I wish someone had nudged me a little more about the need for nurturing myself. My kids are now teenagers and I wish I’d put myself on my to-do list more often than I did when my kids were younger.
Certified Positive Discipline Trainer