10 Ways to Avoid Mommy Burnout

When our 5 kids were little I ran away. Well not exactly; but I do remember standing by the front door at the end of a horrible, rainy day of being cooped up with sick toddlers, fighting siblings, a hormonal pre- teen and a hormonal and burned out me! With my coat on and purse in hand, I watched for his car to pull in the driveway. Greeting him at the door, I exclaimed,

“They are all screaming. They are all yours. I am running away. “

And I did. I went to the mall where I walked around in utter silence for about 3 hours and no one spoke to me or pulled on me or needed me!

I was overwhelmed, exhausted and tottering on the edge of “mama burnout.” Since then I’ve learned a few tricks that will help us when we feel like we’re about to burn out!

  1. Learn to see life in terms of seasons. Every season has challenges unique to that season and every season has blessings unique to the season. We need to be honest about the challenges but then choose to focus on the blessings. A challenge of the little years is monotony. Routine caring of little ones gets boring and is never finished! You wake up the next day to the same things. However, little kids say the funniest things. When our daughter Libby at age 4 saw the ocean for the first time she exclaimed, “Mama, it’s too full you need to let some of it out.” Write down the funny things your kids say. It’s a blessing of this season. Teenagers don’t say funny things. This season will pass and you want to capture the cute things. There will be different blessings in the teen years.
  2. Do something crazy. One of my big events in bad weather was to go to a mall and ride the escalators. Now you can go to a mall and play at an indoor playground. Declare a crazy dress-up day. Dress up in the wildest costumes you can make from clothes in the house. Put make up on everyone. Paint toes and fingers crazy colors and eat green eggs. Or blue pancakes. Craziness relieves monotony and makes a day fun instead of merely an endurance race.
  3. Restore perspective. Part of burn out comes because our world gets too insular. It’s about us and our kids and our needs. It helps to do something totally unrelated to us. Go to a museum. Rent head phones and really study the paintings. Or go to an interesting lecture or demonstration. Don’t discuss your kids. You’ll need to get a baby sitter for your children but you will come home a refreshed Mom with a restored perspective. Life isn’t all about us.
  4. Find an older mentor. I will be forever grateful to Edith, my next-door neighbor. An elderly widow she saved me in my years of parenting little ones. Many times I ran across my front yard, sometimes barefoot in pj’s and knocked on her door. When she opened it, I’d burst into tears. “Edith, I am the worst mother and wife in the world.” Sweet Edith would take me in her arms, sit me on her couch and say, “You are not the worst Mom or wife. It’s just this season in your life. It will pass. You will be alright.” Edith gave me perspective because she was older. She had been there. She understood.
  5. Have girl friends in the same season. Too often we look to our husband to understand, to empathize, to meet our needs for affirmation and appreciation. Sometimes we can look to others to meet needs that they were not created to meet. We should be going to God first and some girlfriends second. A husband just won’t “get” what it was like to wipe poop off the bathroom walls, pick up cereal under the table, separate wrestling boys, and then do it all over again. We need a friend in the same season we can call and say, “You won’t believe what my 3 year old just did!” She will! And she’ll comfort you and laugh with you. Oh how we need to laugh with other women. Pray for God to give you some women who make you laugh and seek to reach out to some other young Moms who may be on the verge of burnout too! Invite some to your home for a time together. Tell your grossest stories. Pray for each other.
  6. Don’t neglect your husband. It’s all too easy in this season to think. “I’ll work on my marriage when life calms down.” But the reality is that life doesn’t calm down. It will just become more complicated with more options. We have to work on our marriages along the way if we want to have a relationship later, and we have to be intentional about this. It will not just happen. If we want our kids to have strong marriages one day they need to see us working on ours now. Marriage takes time and work. Set aside a regular date night to go out alone with your husband just to have fun. Let a sitter deal with the dinner, bed and bath routine. If you wait until you get them down you’ll be too tired to go out. Instead meet him somewhere after work. This is not the time to discuss difficult issues. Instead it’s the time to nurture a marriage friendship. Swap babysitting with a friend. Plan at least 2 times a year that you can get away alone for a couple of over nights.
  7. Do one thing each day that is not merely maintenance. Moms of young children are frustrated. At the end of the day when we look back we don’t feel like we accomplished very much. I found that I loved to mow the grass! It was the only thing I did that lasted more than 24 hours. And it was instant progress! It helps to have one small accomplishment outside of the usual laundry, cooking, and nose wiping each day. Clean out one cabinet, write a note or postcard to someone to say,” I’m thinking about you today and I miss you.” Cook something for a friend who needs a “pick me up.” Doing something for someone outside your immediate family is a blessing and it teaches your kids to care for others.
  8.  Get exercise. It’s not a luxury; it’s your mental health. The hours of 4-7pm are ”arsenic hours.”You want to give it or take it! You are tired, they are tired and you just don’t know how you are going to get through the next couple of hours until they are in bed. I used to grab a teen in the neighborhood and ask them to watch my kids for 20 minutes so I could go for a run. No, I never felt like going and often I went on the verge of tears. But inevitability it gave me the lift I needed to get through the next few hours. Our daughter had 5 kids in 2 years including a set of quads. One of the things that has saved her is regular exercise even if it’s a brisk walk alone for 25 minutes.
  9. Spend time in God’s word. You might not have much time but you can make a little time. It helps to make this the first priority of your day otherwise you are not likely to get to it. For years I’ve read a Psalm and a Proverb every day. One day I read Psalm 144:2. “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge; who subdues peoples under me. “ Lord please subdue these 5 little people today” is still written in the margin on that page. I do believe God has a sense of humor.
  10. Remember God chose your family. God has given us the exact children in the exact birth order with the exact personalities not merely so that we can raise them but in order for them to be His tools in our lives to grow us up into the women He has created us to be. He gave us that strong willed toddler, that child we just don’t “get,” that one with disabilities. Every child is a gift from God and He will use each one in our lives for good if we let Him. It’s helpful to ask, “God, what are you teaching me through this special child of mine?” God is full of mercy and full of grace. And He is always faithful.

I’d love to hear your own favorite tips so send in a comment!

 

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11 thoughts on “10 Ways to Avoid Mommy Burnout”

  1. THANK YOU!! I really needed this, I am raising my grandson, working full time, planning my weeding, juggling household chores & projects. Would love to figure out how to add a few of these to my routines!!

    1. DEAR ANN,
      BLESS YOU WITH YOUR FULL LIFE. THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO WRITE. I AM
      PRAYING FOR YOU AT THIS MOMENT. HE WILL PROVIDE. 1 TIMOTHY 6:17b.
      LOVE, SUSAN

  2. Hi, so my comment is not so much a reply as it is a question….or plea..
    I’m an older mother (47 ) who has been blessed with two beautiful daughters.
    Four years ago, my husband and I adopted our 4 year old . We now have another adopted daughter, ( 15 months). Right now, our 4 yr old is going through a stage of jealousy…or what appears to be. I make special ” mommy and me” days where it’s only the two of us( me and our 4 yr old) Is this stage normal? I feel so guilty because I feel maybe I’m not giving her enough attention.

    1. DEAR LISA,
      THANKS SO MUCH FOR WRITING. YES, WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH IS NORMAL AND
      IT’S NOT BECAUSE SHE’S ADOPTED. HER TERRITORY IS JUST THREATENED AND YOU
      ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING. HAVING SPECIAL MOMMY DAYS WITH HER IS GREAT.
      JUST DON’T EXPECT RESULTS NOW BUT YOU WILL SEE CHANGES WITHIN THE YEAR. IT
      JUST TAKES AWHILE. 4 YEAR OLDS ARE TOUGH. HANG IN THEIR FRIEND!
      I HAVE SOME BLOGS ON SIBLING RIVALRY ON MY SITE: susanalexanderyates.com
      BLESSINGS, SUSAN

  3. Barbara,
    You are that older woman in my life! I have a few face-to-face older women in my life, too. I am so thankful for your ministry to women who are in the thick of it. I have 5 kids and my husband travels and works so much that I feel like a single mom. Your words keep me grounded and encouraged. Knowing that you raised 6 children is an encouragement to my heart. I love being a wife and mom and want to do more than survive – I want to be a blessing to my husband and kids and please God’s heart in all I do. But the days are long!! Thanks for reminding me that that years are short and the journey is God’s gift to me and his refining fire in my life. You don’t know m,e but I love and appreciate you! Keep writing these posts – they are a lifeline!

  4. Wonderful advice. This blog has become a huge source of encouragement for me. It helps me not feel selfish about my complaints and recognize my life situation for what it is. It is time of trial at times but it is atone of goodness also. I love that you said be honest about the challenges but focus on the blessings.

    1. DEAR NICOLE,
      THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT. IT REALLY HELPS TO KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE.
      YOU CAN READ MORE BLOGS ON SIMILAR THINGS AT MY SITE: susanalexanderyates.com.
      THANKS AGAIN FOR WRITING!
      LOVE, SUSAN

  5. Linda Carol Schrader

    Soooo good! I am past the entire phase of parenthood & only had 2 at home, but I am going to share this and share this & keep sharing this. There was nothing available to me with all these wonderful tips & insights when I was a young mother (at least as far as I know). So it truly is important to me to share it so that as many mothers as possible can read it & even if they only get a couple of ideas to help them it will be worth the time sharing. Thank you!

    1. DEAR LINDA,
      THANKS SO MUCH FOR WRITING! AND THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE BLOG. IT IS SO
      ENCOURAGING TO KNOW SOMEONE IS HELPED AND YOU HAVE ENCOUARAGED ME TODAY!
      YOU CAN READ OTHER BLOGS ON SIMILAR TOPICS AT MY SITE:
      susanalexanderyates.com.
      BlESSINGS!
      SUSAN

  6. My tip, is take a few minutes (& in addition to the Word),.. read THIS blog posts! I am so dang tired & have no idea how people have more than 3 kids. (That’s me)…In the parenting grind, yes! & ALL honestly & truly- the ministry of Family Life has given me ‘help for today & hope for tomorrow’. I loved this writer’s post & appreciate your wonderful tips. Keep going ETH!!! God Bless & Happy Mother’s day weekend.

    1. DEAR KRISTY,
      THANKS SO MUCH FOR WRITING. BLESS YOU WITH YOUR THREE!YOU DO HAVE YOUR
      HANDS FULL. YOU CAN READ OTHER BLOGS ON SIMILAR TOPICS AT MY SITE:
      susanalexanderyates.com
      LOVE, SUSAN

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