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If you’re reading this post you’ve likely already watched a couple of Youtube videos about how to avoid Mom burn out and have read several other blog posts. They’re going to tell you to delegate tasks, go on date nights, and get in your self-care. But let’s be honest when you’re down in the trenches, knee deep in yogurt pouches and stacking toys you can’t exactly just bail on motherhood for a few hours to preserve your sanity, so I’m going to share some more realistic strategies for those times when budgets and physics prevent you from just leaving the house to recharge.
•Find an activity your child wants to do and can do independently without your interaction:
This activity should be something that calms them down if they’re upset and that they get really into. For Rigel that activity is playing with his building blocks and tool set. And when things get dire it’s an episode of Monsters At Work (which if you haven’t watched it yet with your little one make sure you check it out on Disney +). This activity should give you 15-20 mins to catch your breath at times when your child is just proving to be more of a terror than treasure. Use this time to breathe, make yourself a fresh cup of joe, and remember that this is just a phase.
•Stop following Mom accounts and Mommy bloggers that make you feel like a failure: Sometimes we’re not actually tired we’re just trying to do too much and we’ve gotten the silly idea that we have to do so much from seemingly perfect mothers that we see on social media. I want you to know that these mothers are more than likely lying to you. They’re not telling you about the tantrums, or the Chik-fil-a they feed their kid for dinner, or how that craft project ended in their 2 year old curled up on the floor crying because actually they hate the color purple. They’re trying to sell you an aspiration, so that you spend $1200 on an Uppababy travel system that your kid doesn’t actually need. If you start thinking to yourself ‘gosh she has it so together’ it’s probably time to unfollow.
•Calendar out your Mommy Time in advance: I don’t know about y’alls budgets but ours is pretty tight, living on a resident’s salary and my part-time work, so we can’t exactly afford to get a babysitter every time I want to do something by myself. But due to the nature of my husband’s job it’s not always easy to get him home at times when it would be reasonable for me to do something. So as of late, I’ve started scheduling out time for myself that I put in the calendar so he has plenty of warning that Mama is going to be OFF-DUTY and he can conduct himself accordingly. Maybe once he’s an attending it’ll be more relaxed but for now this ensures that I get some time to myself.
•Assign certain routines to your spouse/partner: If living with a partner make sure you assign some of the parenting routines to them. For example, if you’re not a morning person but they are maybe they should be in charge of handling the morning routine with the little one. Or if you really need a wind down in the evening for optimal sleep they can do the nighttime routine. In our house, since my husband leaves incredibly early for work usually, I’m in charge of the morning routine but he handles the nighttime routine (with the exception of the couple days a month he works a night shift). This way I can get a break to start winding down and he gets a little more time with Rigel. You can also split other duties, like the person who cooked doesn’t also have to do bath time with the kids. Split it up in a way that Mom (as usually the primary caregiver) gets some relief of tasks so she can focus on herself or at least one thing non-child related that is renewing.
•Don’t Skip the Health Stuff: Now I’m not talking orthorexia at all. You know I have accepted that rest is a vital part of health BUT there is such a thing as TOO much rest. And while the initial get up and go for a workout routine can be hard when you’ve been stagnant for awhile it will pay off dividends. Your workout routine does not have to be everyday. As little as 3 days a week is enough to not only reinvigorate you but also get you strong enough to handle the alligator roll during diaper changes. Make sure you combine a re-entry into exercise with getting enough to eat. We Moms are notorious for skipping meals to get other things done. Don’t do that! If you know you feel better when you have breakfast, come up with a quick breakfast that you can eat that will give you the energy to tackle another running around the island track meet. Also make sure if you are having trouble recovering from exercise or always feeling tired even if you get plenty of sleep that you get your hormone levels checked out to rule out any dysfunction there.
•Perfect is the enemy of good: Remember there is no such thing as the perfect Mom. Our children are all going to complain about us at some point to their significant others and shrinks. No matter how many cookies we baked from scratch, no matter how many craft projects we did with them, even if we never let them have any screen time. So do not stress if occasionally you do things, you didn’t think you’d ever do before becoming a Mom. So, they ate fast food? Okay, do they eat it everyday? Probably not. So, they watch tv? Are they still hitting all their milestones? Yes? Then the kids are fine. The world has changed a lot since the days our parents were raising us. We live in a world now where screens are not only entertainment but our actual livelihood. I’m sure a good portion of you look at a screen all day long while working. Besides some eye strain and a possible desk-gut it probably hasn’t hurt you too much. So don’t sweat it. You can only give what you have to offer. If you feel like you just don’t have the resources to give your child all the stimulation they require (even though you’re a stay-at-home Mom) there’s nothing wrong with sending them to a part-time school program or signing them up for other recreational activities. Make a budget and see where you can cut to make it happen for the little one. Trust me the couple hours a day of quiet may just be worth getting rid of a couple of streaming apps.
So let me know in the comments how do you prevent Mom Burnout? Do you have time you designate for yourself? Do you have a code word you drop on your Mom when grandma needs to take over? Share how you get through the times when changing diapers feels like Chinese Water torture.
Remember to breathe,