working mom

8 Ways to Avoid Burnout as a Working Mom

Being a mom is already hard, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it even more difficult. As mothers are often responsible for childcare and running the household, working at the same time can simply become overwhelming.

Reports suggest that working moms are more likely to feel exhausted or have burnout experiences, as they try to balance career and being a mother and a wife or partner.

Juggling responsibilities as a working mom can lead to stress or mom burnout during quarantine, with signs such as:

  • Feeling exhausted most of the time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low or poor productivity
  • Being irritable or impatient
  • Loss of enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia or lack of sleep)

Fortunately, there are many things you can do on how to lessen stress or deal with mom burnout. Here are a few tips that can help:

1. Don’t multitask

While it may seem like multitasking is productive or a great way to get more things done (especially if you’re a working mom), the contrary is actually true. Research suggests that it negatively affects productivity and stress levels, and contributes to burnout symptoms.

What multitasking does is diminishes your ability to focus and learn, which translates to poor overall performance.

This only makes it important to handle one task at a time. If you, for instance, are working or in a meeting, focus on what you are doing and eliminate other distractions. The same is also true when attending to your kids’ needs. Let yourself be present at the moment instead of checking your social media or trying to respond to an email.

2. Learn to say no and set boundaries

If you want to know how to avoid burnout as a working mom, acknowledge that you can’t do everything. Be kind to yourself by learning how to say no and not feeling guilty about it.

Saying no is a great tool for moms, as it can mean having more time for yourself or saying yes to requests that you like. It will also help you set boundaries and avoid overextending or stressing yourself and burnout.

It can be tough to say no, especially if it’s a loved one or someone close to you asking a favor. Here are few tips for saying no or how to get better at it:

  • Just say no – Don’t use vague or unclear substitutes like, “I am not sure” or “I don’t think so”.
  • Be brief and straightforward – Give a concise reason for saying no and avoid elaborate excuses.
  • Tell the truth – Don’t lie or make excuses; you wouldn’t want to be caught lying later on.
  • Be respectful – Refuse or say no with respect. Be kind and use comforting words that can help make the person asking for a favor feel less bad.

3. Ask for help or support

It is perfectly fine to ask for help when you need it. This could mean hiring someone to help with cleaning or babysitting if you are able to or even splitting household chores and child care with your partner.

If you, on the other hand, need help with too much work, talk to your boss or colleagues about it, or seek advice on ways to perform your tasks more efficiently.

Getting help could also mean being involved in a support group, talking to caring and empathetic friends, or making new friends. Surround yourself with a good support system and try to avoid negative people.

Also, be reminded that it is perfectly fine to take a step back and let others step in. Asking for help or reaching out doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable; it shows strength and self-awareness. And it greatly helps to avoid burnout as a mom.

4. Practice self-care

Don’t let the stress and pressure of working and parenting prevent you from taking care of yourself. Good lifestyle habits can help you:

  • Fight fatigue
  • Deal with exhaustion
  • And give you more energy to face new challenges ahead

Get enough sleep

When juggling responsibilities, sleep can feel like a luxury, even though it is vital. This is why burnout is likely if you don’t get enough rest. It is also hard to function properly when you’re sleep-deprived.

Prioritize sleep and create good sleeping practices. Limit screen time before bed and set consistent sleeping routines for you and the kids.

Eat well

Fuel your body with a well-balanced diet. Load up on whole foods like fruits and vegetables, and limit your consumption of junk and processed foods. It can be helpful to plan your meals or make-ahead snacks and dishes.

Subscribing to a meal planning service is also beneficial if you can afford to do so.

Exercise regularly

Find a workout routine that fits your busy schedule. It can be as simple as walking, jogging, or following an online workout video. You can also encourage your partner to work out together.

Keep in mind, however, that life can sometimes interrupt your exercise schedule. So it is best to readjust or adapt your routines to changing circumstances.

Practice mindfulness 

Try to squeeze in as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day for a guided meditation. This lets you embrace mindfulness as a working mom and be present in the moment.

It also enables you to give undivided attention to what you are doing, which is particularly beneficial when spending time with your family. This can help decrease stress, reduce work burnout, and even boost resilience.

5. Manage expectations and don’t overcommit yourself

The COVID-19 pandemic has created more struggles and challenges for parents. This is especially true for working moms who also need to keep track of the kids’ schoolwork while working and doing household chores. Managing and setting realistic expectations is important to avoid over-scheduling or overcommitting yourself.

When establishing expectations, be aware of your current commitments, as well as your energy level and emotional being. You can do this by making a list of your goals and reevaluating them to see if they are working in your favor or need to be adjusted.

It is also a good idea to simplify your busy schedule and squeeze in more free time to avoid mom burnout and stress during quarantine.

6. Spend time with your spouse or partner

Personal relationships can fall by the wayside if you always prioritize work and other household chores. It is important to spend and make time for your partner to ease stress and help you get through challenging times.

Daily conversation with your significant other allows you to take a break from your daily routine. It brings you the boost you need to keep going.

Constant communication will also give you the opportunity to discuss family matters or aspects of your relationship that are going well and those that are not. Spending time or staying connected with your partner can also mean watching a movie together, scheduling a date night or romantic dinner, or just sitting together while drinking wine.

7. Unwind and have a “me time”

There’s nothing wrong with pampering or putting yourself first, even if you’re a mom and wife. Besides, taking care of yourself means that you’ll have the energy to take better care of your family. It is perfectly fine to take a break and do something unproductive.

It is recommended to find things or activities that are easily accessible to enjoy and avoid triggering stress and burnout.

Here some me-time ideas for working moms:

  • Read (or listen to) an uplifting or inspirational book
  • Talk or catch up with a friend
  • Buy or eat your favorite meal or snack
  • Write in your journal
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Get a spa or massage

8. Seek professional help or try online therapy

Talking to a licensed therapist or psychologist can help you navigate your emotions and what you’re going through. Mental health professionals can also give you tips and tools to cope with the daily stresses of life or deal with mom burnout during quarantine.

This is particularly beneficial if you also experience anxiety or depression and want to regain control of your life.

If you think you’re too busy to make an appointment, you may be glad to know that online therapy is available. This lets you talk to a mental health professional while staying at your home, eliminating the need to travel.

Online therapy is also more accessible or flexible as it can be done through a video chat, messaging app, or a combination of both.

Final words

Being a working mom is tough, that’s why help is always available. Don’t hesitate to ask for support or consider online therapy if you’re stressed, feeling burnout, or just want to deal with the daily challenges of life better.

Do take note that self-care, being kind to yourself, and getting professional guidance can help you juggle parenting and motherhood much better. All these can help you avoid or deal with burnout as a mom.

Kate Skurat

Kate Skurat

Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Washington, United States

Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach. Read more