The Biggest Secret to Banishing Mommy Burnout

If you’ve heard me speak you have probably heard me discuss the myth of the “supermom” and its relationship to the phenomenon of "mommy burnout." This is an experience that I find many of the moms to whom I have spoken can relate to.

“Mommy burnout” as described by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, consists of the following characteristics:

  • Not taking care of yourself

  • Irritability

  • Withdrawing or “checking out”

  • Being stressed or overly busy

  • Headaches or stomach aches with no apparent medical cause

  • Low sex-drive

  • Sleeplessness

  • Anxiety and dread

  • Resentment towards other moms

  • Crying spells

In my talk I offer what I believe are 5 key elements to banishing burnout, which are encompassed in my W.O.M.A.N. System.  Today I want to describe the first-- and most critical-- element in that system: "W" for "work on your mindset." 

What does mindset have to do with motherhood? 

It may not be immediately obvious, but  mindset is the main element to address anytime we are trying to create any significant change in our lives, whether in the area of motherhood, career, relationships, or anything else. Your mindset includes your values, deeply held beliefs, and also the way you talk to yourself about the kind or mother you are, about the world, and about other people.  Here's why this is so important. 

  1. How you think and talk about yourself affects the way you feel, your mood, your stress level, and the way you parent.  When you are in "the funk" (i.e. when everything sucks and every little thing irritates you) you are likely to feel discouraged rather than confident, to be tense rather than relaxed, to be snappy rather than patient, to withdraw from your family rather than reach toward them. Thus, being in a negative state of mind interferes with your ability to show up as the present, patient, and loving mother that you want to be.

  2. The things you think about will inevitably come out of your mouth. If you think of yourself or others in an unkind or discouraging way, you will express these things out loud without even realizing it. For example, have you ever looked in the mirror and said things like "Ugh, I look old!" or "I'm fat and I need to go on a diet?" Or have you ever caught yourself raging and throwing around expletives about other drivers while on the road? This has a direct impact on your kids.  If your child were to hear comments like the ones above, what might she or he conclude?  

  3. If you don't consistently hold yourself in high regard or see yourself as worthy, you are much less likely to take care of yourself and your needs adequately. You will continue to put yourself last, even as you deplete yourself. This only builds resentment and exhaustion (check out my previous blog “Tully:” Portrayal of a Burned Out Mom)  

  4. If you tend to see the world or other people in a negative way, or if you spend most of your time lamenting the past or worrying about the future, you will miss the blessings and the precious moments that are presented to you each and every day.  You simply cannot live a happy, fulfilling life if your mind is full of negative or distressing thoughts!

So what is the takeaway? 

Simply put, f you want to get rid of mommy burnout and guilt, and cultivate a life of calm, confidence, joy and fulfillment, you have to start with your mindset. This is the single most important thing you can do for your own wellbeing and that of your kids.  And it is possible! 

While changing your mindset is quite doable and super worthwhile, there are a few challenges that present themselves.  For example,  one challenge is simply not knowing where to start.  Another challenge is that we humans tend to go to what is familiar and habitual (even if it is not necessarily healthy for us), and this makes creating new habits hard, at times, even when we know what to do.  In either case you must start with a commitment to change and begin to foster habits that you want to develop, getting support along the way to help keep you on track.  This is where having a coach can be very useful, as this person can walk you through the necessary steps, offer skills and strategies to create these changes, and help you stay accountable along the way when you begin to waiver.  In addition, it is helpful to surround yourself with a community of like-minded people who are on a similar journey and will support you. 

In conclusion, changing your mindset is the initial step toward creating a less stressful and more rewarding experience of motherhood, and it is they key to bringing more joy, confidence, and fulfillment into all areas of your life. Working on your mindset does not only benefit you, but it also impacts the quality of parenting that you can offer your kids and the example that you give them of how to live a happy life created on purpose. 

Dr. Raquel Muller