We can probably all relate to the feeling of mom burnout. After all, moms are busy and stress is natural in the midst of raising a family and juggling all the things. But there’s often a hidden reason for mom burnout that’s harder to uncover—the state of our hearts. In this article, Cindy Singleton shares 3 symptoms of a burnt-out mom and offers key spiritual solutions for each one.
The reason for mom burnout is easy to pinpoint, at least at first glance. After all, moms are busy and stress is natural. But there’s a hidden reason for mom burnout that’s harder to uncover.
Most moms, even on good days, feel some type of stress. After all, we manage a household with the finesse of a CEO, dish out advice like a professional counselor, and satisfy everyone’s taste buds with the ease of a culinary chef. All without missing a load of laundry or a turn at carpooling.
And it’s true, a mom’s work never ends. Even after a long day of keeping a home afloat, there’s homework, shuttling to kids’ activities, getting dinner on the table, and bedtime routines. In the process, there’s the ongoing need for instruction, advice, and encouragement. And all that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of a spouse or the recent stressors of mom burnout brought on by Covid.
Admitting you’re a burnt-out mom isn’t easy. Who wants to admit they’re in over their heads? When my daughters were young, I sobbed in the shower from sheer exhaustion many nights after putting them to bed. Some days I actually daydreamed of a short hospital stay―an infected toe, maybe?―just to get a break from the constant demands of mom life.
Mom burnout affects women who work outside the home as well as those who stay home full time. No mom is immune from the stress of being a 24/7 decision-maker, problem-solver, and needs-meeter. If you’re experiencing stay at home mom burnout or working mom burnout, you’re probably experiencing one or more of the following symptoms.
IDENTIFIERS OF MOM BURNOUT
- Tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get
- No longer enjoying your kids or their activities
- Snapping at your kids
- Short temper
- Strained friend or family relationships
- Feeling like a failure as a mom
- Often on the edge of tears
- Second-guessing yourself constantly
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE MOM BURNOUT
So, it’s official. You’re suffering from mom burnout. Now, what do you do about it? Unfortunately, there’s no quick solution or over-the-counter remedy.
In my own experience, as long as I had children at home, I couldn’t lighten my load. In fact, as my daughters grew older, in some ways my load got heavier. But over time, I discovered ideas that changed my mind about mothering. Before long, my joy increased and my family began to flourish.
What if mom burnout has less to do with a mom’s responsibilities and more to do with her heart? Let’s take a look at three symptoms of a burnt-out mom and the spiritual solution for each one.
1. MOM BURNOUT AND UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
We all want to be good moms and raise our children well. But being a good mom doesn’t mean being a perfect mom. An unhealthy pursuit of perfection is detrimental to our families, devastating to our mental health, and will almost certainly result in mom burnout.
If we’re honest, we’ll admit most of our expectations for being a perfect mom are self-induced. No one is as hard on us as we are on ourselves.
An important question to ask ourselves is, what’s our measuring stick for a perfect mom?
Social media is a great source of entertainment and connection. But it’s a terrible measuring stick for our performance as a mom. In light of perfectly posed, filtered images, we’ll almost always fall short. And when we’ve decided we don’t measure up, we feel guilty for not doing enough and shame for not being enough.
So how do we overcome the unrealistic expectations contributing to our burnout?
1. Chose a Different Measuring Stick
Comparing yourself to others is normal, but not necessarily healthy. It’s time to realize the ‘everyone else’ you’ve been comparing yourself to is imaginary! I can’t count the number of times I arranged my living room furniture a certain way because, “everyone knows you can’t put a couch there.” Even though I wanted my couch there!
It’s time to realize there’s no one out there named Everyone! No one is judging you―in fact, most people aren’t paying much attention to you―so, stop living your life to please imaginary people!
In the Bible, a woman named Martha was getting ready for dinner guests. She was stressed out, taking care of all the details, while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. So, Martha tattled. She told Jesus just how outrageous it was that Mary had bailed on her with company coming. And Jesus surprised her with His response. “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42).
Martha was fussing over all the details, while her sister had her eyes on Jesus. It’s not that Mary didn’t help with the meal, but she wasn’t stressing over it to the point of making it the most important thing in her life.
Nothing alleviated mom burnout for me as a mom quite like shifting my focus from everyone to Jesus. When I finally determined that He was most important to me and worthy of my deepest affections, I saw myself and the world around me more clearly. When He is primary, it’s easier to see how many things we focus on that aren’t worthy of stressing over.
Consider taking breaks from social media. If you find yourself obsessing over the lives of certain women, or feeling less-than while you’re scrolling, take a step back from screen time. Just take a break, and see if your stress level changes.
2. Be Weak
That sounds odd, I know. After all, our culture applauds supermoms. But the truth is, the path to being a real supermom is found in admitting you really don’t have what it takes. If you want real power―in the form of strength, joy, and hope―it comes from being weak. Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And the apostle Paul responded, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In contrast to everything we hear about being a supermom, the Bible tells us that if we admit we’re weak, Jesus will make us strong. As backward as it sounds, I’ve found it’s true. When I began to ask God to help me be a good mom, He empowered me to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Motherhood is exhausting because it’s a 24/7 job. Moms don’t get sick days, vacation days, or personal days. That’s why it’s important to pace yourself. When my girls were young, I took naps right along with them. When they got older, I closed my eyes and listened to soothing music in the carpool line. At some point, I even taught them to give me a few minutes of personal space in the afternoons.
To prevent mom burnout, it’s important to pace yourself for the long haul. That means going to bed at a decent hour, even if the kitchen is a wreck. It’ll still be there in the morning, and you’ll have more energy to tackle it. Here are other tips for conserving your energy:
- Remember you don’t have to make every day awesome. Instead of feeling the pressure to constantly entertain them, help your kids learn how to delight in the ordinary.
- Don’t over-schedule your life. If there’s not enough margin for people and some fun, you’re probably too busy.
- Let your kids take on responsibilities.
- Learn to say no.
- Regularly prioritize what’s most important to you, and keep it at the forefront.
Above all else, find rest in the Lord. When life is stressful, throw yourself into the arms of God. He knows what you need. Even if you can’t find a moment alone, close your eyes, tell the Lord what you’re feeling, and imagine Him holding you. Then you can say, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2).
2. MOM BURNOUT AND THE PROBLEM WITH FEELING DRAINED
Motherhood takes something from every part of you. That’s why one of the common symptoms of mom burnout is feeling emotionally and physically drained. Moms often feel like they’re sacrificing everything and getting very little back. The job seems thankless.
How do we find joy in serving when we’re depleted?
1. Invest in Soul Care
The world encourages us to pay attention to self-care, and we’re wise to spend time taking care of ourselves. Fun trips and spa days are good for us. But eventually the Girls’ Trip will end and the bath water will turn cold. Then what?
My mom―who was raised in a home with no running water―was fond of saying, “you can’t draw water from a well that’s run dry.” That’s true for a person who needs a cup of water, and it’s just as true for moms who need to find joy in their everyday lives.
We can’t serve our families joyfully if our hearts are running on empty. We need to spend time with Jesus and let Him fill our hearts with the joy of the Holy Spirit. That kind of spiritual water not only comes into us, but it flows out of us. In other words, we receive a blessing, and then we become a blessing to others. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water‘” (John 7:37-38).
The best kind of self-care is soul care. Spend time praying to God. Read your Bible. Listen to praise music and songs that lift your eyes to Jesus.
2. Seek the Right Reward
Motherhood feels like a thankless job. Your kids probably won’t stop to thank you for wiping their toothpaste out of the sink, washing their dirty socks, or remembering to buy their favorite cereal. But if we play the victim of thanklessness, we’ll grow bitter. And mom burnout is sure to follow.
Beware of the danger of turning inward and feeling sorry for yourself. That’s where we breed resentment and self-pity. Instead, Look to God to reward you for a job well done. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
3. MOM BURNOUT AND THE DANGER OF FEELING UNDERVALUED
Moms have plenty to complain about when it comes to the sacrifices they make. At the onset of motherhood, most moms say a virtual goodbye to impromptu lunches with friends or bathroom time alone. Kids activities take over the family calendar, and, at least with teenagers, the family budget may be stretched thin.
In light of all the sacrifices, there’s a popular trend to turn moms into victims. But you’re not a victim. You’re a woman who’s been called to serve your family and raise up the next generation. Mom burnout is inevitable when we underestimate the value of the sacrifices we make as moms.
So what can we do to embrace the value of our current motherhood season?
1. Appreciate Your Role
It’s important to embrace your calling, and to realize that you’re responsible to God for your role as a mom. We’re called to do everything―yes, even mothering―“as to the Lord and not to man” (Ephesians 6:6-7).
Motherhood is no joke. We’ve been entrusted with building a foundation of unconditional love, security, and safety for our children. Along the way, we’re to know the Scriptures and “teach them diligently to [our] children” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
No one else on earth can influence your child in the same way you can. And no one else will waste a second thought on the issues you lose sleep over.
2. Value the Mundane Moments
Much of our everyday lives feels mundane. Running errands, picking up the house, and fixing meals aren’t necessarily fulfilling or stimulating tasks. But they’re a part of our job as moms, and motherhood is a high calling.
With motherhood, even the smallest moments have future benefits. Some even have eternal outcomes.
When my daughters were young, I didn’t realize the mundane moments we shared then were building the friendships we enjoy today. Toddler books they selected during our daily story times helped me learn more about their personalities. Hours of carpooling to soccer and dance gave us ample time to talk and laugh. And waiting up for them after late-night dates gave me a chance to hear their funny stories and intimate feelings. Today, my three daughters are my best friends on the planet, all because of ordinary moments.
Even in the humdrum, God will give you the strength to keep on keeping on. The Bible tells us He is “able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
To make the most of the mundane, learn to be in the moment. Put your to-do list or your phone down, and remember you’re creating lasting friendships. The ordinary moments may appear purposeless, but together they’ll combine to create relationships with your kids that will last a lifetime.
GUARDING AGAINST MOM BURNOUT
Mom burnout is real, especially in a culture as busy and demanding as ours. That’s why it’s important to consider not just practical solutions, but spiritual solutions as well. Adjusting unrealistic expectations brings a harvest of peace, strength, and rest. Spending time with the Lord and seeking Him produces joy and gratitude. And embracing the high calling of motherhood provides meaning and value to even the most ordinary moments of our lives.
15 SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD JOY TO YOUR DAY IN LESS THAN AN HOUR
Need a little extra joy in your day?
Our team has put together this FREE printable for our readers to help you infuse joy into your life quickly. Enter your name and email below and we’ll send this fun printable right over!
Share This Post