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15 Ways To Overcome Motherhood Burnout

21 June, 2008

I believe I am well-qualified to write this post after two bouts of post-natal depression in the past as well as the busy life one has with three kids under the age of five.

Motherhood is such a demanding role. Of course we all love our kids and wouldn’t give them up for the world, but the constant drain on our emotions, minds and wallets can become too much sometimes. When we get to that point, where we dread our mothering tasks instead of enjoying our precious children, we are perilously close to burnout.

Mothers need to learn that sometimes it is okay to put themselves first instead of last. Here are fifteen things you can do to stop yourself from burning out as a Mum.

  1. Get some rest. Mothers never seem to get enough sleep. Leaving the dirty dishes in the sink and going to bed early may give us a spring in our step the following day and the feeling that we are ready to tackle the world.
  2. Talk. Mums are great at talking. We talk about our children and our husbands and our parents and… everything but ourselves. Women are social creatures and need that time with friends to debrief and unload. Find a trusted friend and have a chat over a cuppa. See how long you can go without mentioning the kids!
  3. Do something spontaneous. Sometimes we just get stuck in a rut. A bit of spontaneity can liven things up and help us to enjoy life that bit more.
  4. Plan some fun.Closely related to the previous suggestion is to plan some more fun into your life. Think about what you like to do – with and without your kids – and set aside some time to do it! The more fun you have, the nicer person you will be to be around.
  5. Tell your partner. Sometimes we expect our husbands to be mind-readers. Men work differently to women and sometimes hints just don’t get through. Let him know that you’re struggling with all the responsibilities you currently have. Ask him if he can help out around the house more or hold the fort while you take some time out for yourself.
  6. Trust your husband. Husbands are a wonderful resource! If you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities and can’t see anything you could possibly relinquish, ask your husband what he thinks. He is likely to be able to be more objective than you, whilst also knowing you better than anyone else to know your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes we just need to trust our husbands more!
  7. Ask for help. Women are often quick to jump in and help others, but very, very slow to ask for that same help. Call on your support networks, whether they be a church group, the netball team or your next door neighbour and tell them you are having a rough time and could use some help. Allow your friends to bless you in the same way you have blessed them in hard times.
  8. Pray. Studies have shown that people who have a belief in a “higher power” live longer, happier lives. If you don’t believe in God, then participating in a ritual that will nourish your spiritual self can also renew you.
  9. Write it down.Sometimes we can’t confide in others. Writing things down (on paper or the computer) can help us to unload. You don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to – in fact tearing up or burning what you have written can be very therapeutic.
  10. Let go a little. We all like to have tidy houses and organised families, but sometimes we just need to let go a little. The world will not end if the floor hasn’t been swept or you get take-away two nights in a row. Sometimes we need to stop trying to climb up onto a pedestal and just relax.
  11. Do something romantic. Marriages can easily get neglected in the hustle-bustle of family life. Set aside regular time to be with your spouse. Depending on your stage of life that could be after all the kids go to bed, or it might involve asking a favour of friends or family and dropping the kids off while you go out or spend time at home together. Allow your husband to nurture you, but make sure you give back a bit too!
  12. Pay someone else to do it. Sometimes the ironing pile stands higher than the ironing board or the windows haven’t been cleaned in so long it looks foggy every morning. Don’t feel guilty about it! If it’s weighing on your mind then pay someone else to do it. If money is tight you could enlist one of your older children (if you have one) or a teen in your neighbourhood to do it for you.
  13. Barter your skills.If you can’t afford to pay for anything to be done, even by a teen then bartering may be an option for you. You may have a friend or acquaintance that enjoys this job you dread, whilst you may have a particular talent in an area they are not so talented in and may be willing to do a swap with you. They could do your ironing while you tend to their unruly garden, blessing them with your green-thumb in return.
  14. Say Yes! When people offer to help say yes! Get into the habit of gratefully accepting others’ offers of help. Sometimes you may need to redirect that help – “I don’t really need you to look after Snookums (my three day old baby) but it would be great if you could read some stories to Princess Petunia (your three year old) or vacuum the lounge room”. If you always knock back help, people will think that you have it all together and stop offering at all.
  15. This too shall pass. Sometimes we just need to remember that whatever hardship we are experiencing will one day be a distant memory. Even if our current stress is caused by something life-long and irreversible, the difficult stage you are at is not permanent and will be replaced by different challenges and even times of relative peace. The one thing constant in life is change!
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