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Being a working mom has always had its challenges, but ever since the coronavirus pandemic, working moms have only become more aware of how hard it really is. The expectation of managing work, while also managing household chores, day care closures, other childcare needs, personal mental health, and a worldwide crap show made working moms so much more aware of the struggle of managing it all. This has resulted in a working mom burnout pandemic all of its own.
A new study done by Ohio State University has shown that 68% of working mothers report experiencing burnout. This alarming statistic shows us that change needs to happen. Working mom burnout is no longer going to be the norm. Instead, we need to not only normalize the struggle, but take steps in recovering.
In this article, I’m going to give you 10 tips on how working moms can manage burnout. Though I am currently a stay at home mom, I know how it feels to be a working mom experiencing burnout. Society unfortunately does little to support mothers, which is why I as a mom am giving what I can to help.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Stay-at-Home Moms (Or Other Moms In General)
It is true! Comparison is the thief of joy! Many moms have the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality when it comes to how they choose to mother. The truth, though, is that it is all hard! Literally, being a mom is just plain hard, regardless of how you do it! You can be a stay at home mom, a working mom, a work at home mom, a part time working mom, a step-mom, whatever! and it is ALL challenging in it’s own right! To compare your woes to that of another mom in a different situation will not solve anything.
Instead of thinking, wondering, or believing that another moms life situation is easier than yours and therefore more desirable, remember that every mom is going to have their own unique struggle. All moms need support, regardless of their working status.
Examine Your Work-Life Balance And See If It Is Working For You
Working mom burnout, or burnout in any form, is usually a signal that there is something in your life that isn’t serving you well. Taking the time to analyze why that might be happening could be a valuable step to take in conquering your burnout.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself when managing your work-life balance:
- Do I think this burnout I’m experiencing is workplace burnout or parental burnout?
- Are my work hours reasonable, or am I being expected to put in more hours than necessary?
- Are there work duties that are being unduly handed to me that could be delegated elsewhere?
- Are there expectations at home that are contributing to the burnout?
- What do I really have to do, and what can I hand off to someone else?
- Would taking some time off help me?
- Do I just need to scrap it all and find a job that will meet my needs better?
Taking a hard look at your work-life balance is a key step in managing, and ultimately ending burnout.
Practice Effective Self Care
Perhaps some of the working mom guilt you may be experiencing is guilt when you take time for yourself. I want to remind you that in your time away from work, you are in fact allowed to do something for yourself. Not every waking second of your free time needs to be around your kids. In fact, demonstrating effective self care to your kids can teach them valuable skills as well.
Now that we have established that you do in fact deserve to take time for yourself, we need to also establish the fact that some self care if effective, and some isn’t.
It may feel nice in the moment to scroll endlessly on social media, but does it actually relax you, or does it make you mind numb? Bingeing the latest show many feel good in the moment, but what’s your state of mind like afterword? If relaxation, restoration, or contentment aren’t the end results, then it isn’t effective self care.
I go more into detail about effective self care practices in these articles:
- “How To Start A Self Care Routine You’ll Actually Want To Stick With.”
- “12 Ways Moms Can Treat Themselves To A Self Care Night.”
Take A Look At The “Why” Behind The Working Mom Burnout
Imagine the “perfect” working mom. How does she handle her day-to-day? What is her relationship with her kids and/or spouse like? What’s her financial situation like? How is her and her families diets? Create an entire profile of the “perfect” working mom, and then answer these questions:
Who told you that is the perfect working mom?
Does that perfect working mom actually exist?
If you met that perfect working mom in real life, would she find herself as perfect as you do?
More than likely, the answers to all of those questions are no. That is because all of the characteristics of a perfect working mom are simply snippets of ideals that you may have intentionally or unintentionally recorded from other moms you admire. Even if those moms are totally hypothetical, we take bits and pieces of our own perceived perfection and create a character to strive after that doesn’t even exist!
So who or what put those ideals in your head. Was it your own family? Social media? Television? Celebrity culture? Spiritual abuse? Unrealistic expectations from your spouse?
You may discover that you have been unduly influenced by people that aren’t really worth your time being influenced by. Remember that people on the internet only show the best looking parts of their life. They conveniently crop out the dirty dishes, overwhelmed schedules, and chaotic communications. Even reality TV shows are cropped and edited to be palatable to society.
The perfect working mom, or mom in general, doesn’t exist. She is simply the mom that works within and makes the best of the circumstances she is in. Whether that’s grinding in the 9-5 or staying home with the kids, striving to meet the perfect vision fueling your guilt is only going to end in frustration.
Assess Your Expectations And Change Them As Needed
The gasoline that burnout is fueled off of is unrealistic expectations. Whether those expectations come from social media, family, friends, your workplace, that one mom you always side eye at the playground, or whoever seems that they have it together more than you. When our expectations are beyond the scope of reality, guilt will always follow.
Make a list of all the things that you would have to do to magically make your mom guilt disappear. When you do that, ask yourself these questions:
- Who, or what, gave me that expectation?
- Is that expectation going to actually make my life better?
- Is that an expectation that brings me joy when it is met, or does it bring me more stress?
- Is it really worth hanging onto that expectation?
Through assessing your expectations you may realize that many of the expectations we set on ourselves as parents are not ones that even matter to us! They may be silly expectations that our parents at one point set on us, or that your favorite influencer on social media has for her family. If the expectation doesn’t serve you or your family in a positive way, ditch it! It simply isn’t worth your brain power!
Be A Master Of Delegation
Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you have to do everything! If you have a partner in your home, then utilize them! Even though most mothers are working mothers, 47% of working mothers still claim to do the majority of the household duties. If you’re already burned out from the stresses of work, raising children, and just existing, adding household responsibilities to the pile will only make the problem worse.
If you have a partner in your home, work with them on ways you can manage the load more equally. I go into more detail on how to share the mental load in this article.
If you’re a single mom, or have a partner who isn’t home often, then take this time to lean on those around you. If you don’t have a family member or that “village” we’re all searching for, then find ways to make that village for yourself. Whether thats working with friends or neighbors to watch the kids or help with tasks around the house, or even hiring professional help.
Of course, delegating household tasks can be much easier said than done. Not everyone lives in an area where finding help can be accessible, or that have the funds to hire help. This is where it may be worth your time to go back assessing your expectations. Are you expecting yourself to meet a standard that is simply unreachable? How can you modify that standard of household chores in a way that gets it done without it being totally overwhelming?
I have a few articles on delegating tasks and managing home expectations here:
- How To Unload The Mental Load, And Start Getting The Help You Deserve.
- 11 Steps To Get Your Husband To Help Around The House
- Here’s Why I Stopped Being Ashamed Of My Messy House
Advocate For Yourself And Other Working Parents
At the end of the day, you can manage your expectations, delegate tasks, practice self care, have a good work/life balance, and have the best village a family could ever ask for and still feel like you’re beating your fists in the air because it feels like too much. To be honest, that’s because for the majority of working moms, it kind of is too much.
If you live in the United States, such as I, then you live in a developed country that doesn’t offer any paid maternity leave, no affordable child care, no accessible health care, limited sick leave, and a prevalent societal expectation as a woman to be seen and not heard. So to be frustrated, burned out, and overwhelmed by all of the expectations on your shoulder as a working mother is almost completely expected. You are literally fighting against a society that wasn’t built to better you or your family. I am sure that burnout you are feeling is somewhat universal all over the world, but when coupled with the ridiculous expectations set on us by a developed country that does little to no good for our benefit as mothers, it only adds salt to the wound.
I know affordable childcare won’t entirely fix your burnout, but it would surely make it hurt a little less. I’m sure that affordable healthcare wouldn’t eradicate the overwhelm you experience, but it would at least help you get services that could aid you through it. I know that paid parental leave may not totally reverse the burnout that comes with being a working mom, but it would at least buy you the time to bond with your baby in a way I am sure you long for.
At the end of the day, advocating for systemic change may not fix your current blight of burnout, but it may pave the road for a better experience for another mom. Be an advocate in your workplace, town, city, or country for policies that would benefit mothers and children.
Being a mom is challenging in any way, shape, or form, but being a working mom has its own unique set of challenges. Those challenges can weight you down quickly, resulting in burnout. Burnout doesn’t have to be forever, it can be managed!
To sum it up:
- Stop comparing yourself
- Make family time intentional
- Stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side, because it’s probably not
- Work closely with the other caregivers in your families life
- Care for yourself well
- Dig deep to why this working mom burnout is happening
- Curb your expectations (and others)
- Stop doing it all by yourself
- Don’t be afraid to call corporations and governments out on their BS and stand up for your rights!
The bottom line is, you are a mom who deserves love, compassion, and rest. Now go park yourself somewhere cozy and take a break! You earned it.
Mental Health Resources
- Betterhelp – Is an online therapy service that makes therapy accessible and affordable for all people. They have a huge database of therapist with many specialties, and offer many ways to participate in therapy.
- Faithful Counseling – Is very similar to Betterhelp, but is a database of online Christian therapists. If you would prefer to receive therapy from a faith-based perspective, then this could be just for you.
- Brightside – offers online medication and therapy treatments for depression and anxiety. You can get an appointment with an online provider in as little as 48 hours, and each treatment plan is catered to your personal needs.