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When Self-Care Isn’t Enough to Help the Burnt-Out Mom – What Do You Do?

October 11, 2021
by Chelsy

When Self-Care Isn’t Enough to Help the Burnt-Out Mom – What Do You Do?

By Chelsy
October 11, 2021

When you’re a burnt-out mom, you will try anything to minimize the crazy in your life.

While I do focus on the importance of self-care on this blog, moms need to understand that self-care is not a magical cure for eliminating and preventing burnout.

There are not enough bubble baths in the world that will cure your anxiety or enough naps to revitalize your energy to face the everyday challenges of motherhood.

And when we burn out, we feel like it’s our fault because we aren’t “doing enough”.

I’m here to tell you one universal truth about motherhood: You are not doing it wrong. Being a mom is really that hard.

And feeling like a burnt-out mom is not your fault.

So, what do you do when self-care isn’t enough?

Keep reading to find out what causes burnout as well as some exercises you can practice to help reduce burnout in your life!

What is Causing Your Burnout?

The key to addressing your burnout is to address the underlying issues causing it.

While you can attribute feeling like a burnt-out mom to doing too much, you need to explore why you are doing too much.

A lot of it has to do with unrealistic expectations fueled by societal expectations to be a perfect mom:

Your Perceived Shortcomings

Culture and society can suck sometimes, especially in this day and age where social media constantly dictates how to be the perfect mother.

We are either bombarded with images of perfect families and perfect lives or we are openly shamed for following our instincts when making parenting decisions.

When we try to follow the “rules” set forth by cultural and societal expectations, we end up giving way more than we are capable of and we burn out.

In order to face these “shortcomings”, you have to first accept your vulnerability. This happens when you put your foot down and refuse to buy into the notion of the perfect mother and start being your authentic and honest self.

Your Vulnerability

I’m going to start here with a quote from the amazing Brené Brown:

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering ‘You’re not good enough’ in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.”

So, how do you stand in your worthiness?

  • Rewrite Your Story. You have a narrative in your head that is telling you that you are not good enough. You need to start affirming that you are enough, you do enough and that you have enough.
  • Embrace Your Flaws. No mother is perfect, so it’s time to start owning your imperfections and allowing yourself to feel like crap when you feel like crap. This is how you get in touch with your true self.
  • Stop Trying to Make Everyone Happy. You’re a mom, it’s never going to happen. At some point your children will be unhappy with you – it’s all part of their development. And everyone else? They have to decide whether or not they want to be happy. You can’t make this happen for them.

Once you can stand in your worthiness, you can begin to lower that proverbial set so high by today’s society

When you begin to realistically manage your expectations as a mother, you will start to feel more accomplished and less overwhelmed.

Your Fear of Asking for Help

It’s hard to buy into the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” when our society seems so fractured and our communities so distant.

But you don’t have to take that phrase literally – you are allowed to reach out for help.

Mothers should be able to state what they need without apology. Instead, they are either ignored or looked down upon.

Which no one wants to face but, as you learn to stand in your worthiness, you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter what they think.

The more you open yourself to help and put it all out there, the more you will attract a support system that thinks and feels the same way you do.

Facing your vulnerability can be terrifying but doing so is incredibly brave.

Mom Burnout Recovery

So now we know why you feel like a burnt-out mom and how managing your expectations can help – but how do you go about doing this?

By addressing your expectations as a mom and allowing yourself to lower the bar! The less pressure you place on yourself, the less overwhelmed and burnt-out you will feel.

Managing Expectations as a Mom

We’re going to do a little exercise to help you face your unrealistic expectations of being a good mom and then immediately blow them to smithereens.

Grab a pen and paper and write down things a “good mom” does.

I’ll go first:

  1. A good mom feeds her children home-cooked and healthy meals.
  2. A good mom gets on the floor and plays with her kids.
  3. A good mom doesn’t allow too much screentime.
  4. A good mom has a clean and spotless house.
  5. A good mom never yells at her kids.

Once you have your list completed, take a good look at it and ask yourself the following:

  • Is this realistic?
  • Is this something I would enjoy doing?

I can honestly answer “no” to most of the things I listed above. As a single mother, having the energy to cook meals every night, keep my house clean and get on the floor and play all day is just not feasible.

Plus, I don’t really enjoy cooking or playing on the floor.

Do I do these things? Most of the time, but I don’t put pressure on myself to do them all the time or every day – and I don’t put myself down if I don’t do them.

Now we’re going to take that list and rewrite it into something more feasible and realistic:

  1. A good mom feeds her kids and encourages healthy eating whenever possible.
  2. A good mom plays with her kids on the floor sometimes but tries to find activities she can enjoy with her children.
  3. A good mom allows screentime when she needs a break but tries to set some boundaries when it comes to time.
  4. A good mom tidies up when she can and makes sure her house is not a disgusting pile of yuck.
  5. A good mom tries to speak to her kids calmly but accepts that verbal explosions will happen from time to time.

Now, compared to the previous list, does this sound horrible? It doesn’t to me and I’ve managed to drastically lower expectations between the two lists – which makes me instantly feel like a better mom. 🙂

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Accepting “Good Enough”

Another important part of mom burnout recovery is allowing yourself to accept “good enough” instead of perfection.

Take a moment to think about your mom life. Take note of what you deem as “imperfect”.

Then ask yourself:

  • Is the situation safe?
  • Is my family happy?
  • Is this causing any problems?
  • Are you living within your values?
  • Are you being your true self?
  • Does this really matter at the end of the day?

Here’s my example: my home is cluttered. There are piles of stuff on the table, piles of stuff in the living room, piles of stuff on my desk, etc.

Does it look like a Pinterest-perfect home? Oh heck no.

  • Is my home safe? Yes.
  • Is my child happy here? Yes.
  • Is the clutter causing any real problems? No.
  • Am I living within my values? Yes, because I believe cleanliness does not mean spotlessness.
  • Am I being true to myself? Absolutely. I’m no Martha Stewart or Pinterest mom so there’s no point in trying to be.
  • Does this really matter at the end of the day? Not at all.

So, you know what? Good enough!

Can Self-Care Be Harmful?

So, I’m going to come back to self-care since that was supposed to be the point of this article. Once I started digging into vulnerability and worthiness, this post kind of went in its own direction.

As important as self-care is in your mom-life, you need to be careful that it doesn’t create the opposite effect as intended.

Self-care is meant to be a practice of turning your focus inward and taking care of yourself. However, if you’re not careful, that quiet place you create for yourself can open the door to more anxiety and overwhelm.

If you’re forcing yourself to participate in self-care practices, you’re not going to get the results you expect. Instead, you’re going to feel disappointed that taking care of yourself is not helping you feel less like a burnt-out mom.

Before you start incorporating self-care into your life, make sure you are working toward a place of balance and peace where doing so will improve your life.

This includes the tips I mentioned above about facing your vulnerability, standing in your worthiness and managing your expectations.

Don’t let society, or even my content, pressure you into believing that all you need is self-care. The purpose of self-care is to enrich your life and nurture your being – not fix your life.

When Self-Care Isn’t Enough to Help the Burnt-Out Mom

It sucks that there’s no magical cure-all for feeling burnt-out – overcoming this exhaustion and overwhelm in your mom-life is going to take a little work and reflection.

However, when you dig deep down inside and change your perceptions of yourself, those changes resonate so strongly throughout every aspect of your life.

So lower that bar, accept that you aren’t perfect, and start living YOUR best mom life!

Have you ever dealt with mom burnout? Have some tips you want to share! Throw them in the comments below!

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