10 Ways to Burn Out as a Mom (and how to avoid them)

These ten things contribute to mom burnout. We don’t want burnout. We want awesome. When we know the triggers we can learn how to avoid them. Here’s the list awesome mom. 

1. Not taking time to rest. Listen sweet mom. I know that you have a to-do list that rivals google (I used to give the example of an encyclopedia, but quickly discovered that dated me and my 39.5 years old that I am. So now, now it’s simple google.) I know that you have more to keep up on than there is time in the day, but listen, if you don’t rest you will burn out. There is no ifs ands or buts about this statement. If you have little children try to rest when they rest. Seriously. There is no shame, guilt, or any of that with resting. When you rest you take care of you which makes you better for them.

2. Clinging to mom guilt. It’s there. I know it. We’ve got mom guilt over the times we’ve yelled when we said we never would. There is mom guilt for working or staying at home. There’s mom guilt over not doing a birthday party. There’s mom guilt for skipping bedtime and the routine (that one – I say – skip it now and then). But that mom guilt? It doesn’t need to be there. The mom guilt can lead to perfectionism which can lead to burn out. There is no perfect mom. Even if Pinterest gives us the illusion that there might be.

3. Not letting your kids be kids. Stand up straight, get back here, make your bed, no talking, don’t run off. Do you say those things? Don’t make a mess, don’t play with the glitter (ouch, tough one there for me), and on and on… Let your kids be kids. And for the times that they throw a tantrum in Target remember that you are not alone in that. Every single mom goes through those moments where they think where in the world did that child come from? So no guilt for those times either. Just let your kids be kids. Kids make messes. There will be handprints on the windows and the walls. Marker stains on the tables. Those things are normal.


4. Being over scheduled. Remember point one? I know you can choose tons of activities for you and your kids. But try not to do that. Please. An over scheduled life can only last for so long until the stress kicks in. Not just for you, but also for your kids. Sometimes less is more even if it seems counter culture. I recently read an article about kids and sports and being over scheduled and not diversifying their activities. Sometimes the craziness doesn’t allow space for the wonder moments of childhood.

5. Not accepting help. When you have a new baby I want you to accept help. I want you to say thank you and take the meals, cleaning, help with the other kids. Accepting help makes you a better giver. But, beyond that, I want you to be okay with both asking and accepting help. Motherhood was not meant to be a solo journey. Work together with your friends to divide duties, driving, and such. And when you need help so thank you.

6. Not giving yourself grace – meals, house, friends, expectations. Just like I always write – you’ll mess up. There is no perfect. You’ll forget to pack lunch for school or your kid’s clothes will be stained or you won’t have boots that fit. Those things happen. Your teenager could rebel, your house could be a mess (even though it was perfect 4.5 minutes earlier), and you might not want to make dinner. Real, real, real. Give yourself grace. Please?

7. Having too much stuff. Stuff equals management. Management equals stress. Stress equals burnout. I probably don’t need to go into more detail about this one, do I? Less is more, moms. Less is more. When a toy comes in then let one go. You want to be a mom. Not a manager of stuff.


8. Ignoring your feelings. I’m fine. That works sometimes. But all the time? No. If you need a friend or help or someone to listen to then reach out. Our feelings teach us about ourselves. When you feel overwhelm it’s an indicator that something in your life needs to shift. Maybe there is too much on your schedule. Maybe you need to just get outside and start to laugh again. Yes, yes, yes, laugh. It’s way too easy to be so busy that we forget to nurture ourselves. What is something that you love to do? Do that. Who makes you happy? Call them. Hug your kids.

9. Trying to suck the awesomeness out of every single moment. I think when that happens we get those creeping nagging thoughts thinking we’re not doing enough. Like we’re failing even when we’re trying. You know, trying isn’t failing. (Read Dear Mom Who Feels Like She is Failing for more thoughts.) Here’s the deal. You know it and I know it. Most of life isn’t filled with awesome Hallmark moments. Accept that. But also leave space in your day and posture to have those moments. Like letting the kids be kids and serving breakfast for dinner. Or staying up late. Or seeing a midnight premiere. Those are life moments.

10. Forgetting to be grateful and seeing the gigantic enormous life picture. What are you going to remember when you’re old? What will wish you had spent more time doing and less time doing? Those are things to try to spend time on. And sometimes it’s working hard and providing. Sometimes it’s cleaning even when they’re clamoring for another story. And sometimes it’s simply saying no or yes and sitting with them just being. Be grateful, sweet mother. Even if life isn’t perfect. For those days when you feel burnout I challenge you to write a list. A simple list. Three things. For two minutes. A Facebook update. Call a friend. But I simply want you to look at your day and not only discover what was wonderful but also what you did right.

[Tweet “Start to see you. Start to see the impact. Motherhood Matters.”]

Burnout oftentimes leaves then. In fact, gratitude washes away much of the burnout.

For another favorite list post read 10 Things Happy Moms Don’t Do. 10ThingsHappyMomsDon'tDoFINAL

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16 Responses to “10 Ways to Burn Out as a Mom (and how to avoid them)”

  1. This. Exactly this.

    I was doing every single thing wrong when it came to taking care of myself, and I burned out completely. Crashed and burned. It cost me a lot, too…namely, my career and my health. I learned a lot, though. I just wish I had learned it all a little sooner. I’m not back to “good” yet, but I think I might be on my way.

    I urge ALL moms to please take a moment to take care of yourself in whatever way you need, even if it doesn’t FEEL like you need it yet. Stay one step ahead of the burn out. And if you don’t feel like you can do that for yourself, do it for your children’s mother.

    • July 21, 2014

      Lindsay Reply

      Love your response….”your childrens mother ” shouldn’t change perspective but it does for me, thank you fellow mother. Learning to do it for me 🙂

  2. July 17, 2014

    Emma Reply

    Number 5. I would accept it if there was ever anyone to give it. I feel so alone and lonely. Thank you for your posts but it’s just too hard sometimes. Sorry.

    • July 17, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Kim….I am hoping there will be someone in your life that will bless you with this.

      With love.


    • July 17, 2014

      Toni Reply

      Emma, I had to reply. Motherhood can feel like the loneliest job in the world, and I quote a line of Lynette’s from desperate housewives “you’ll feel alone but you are never alone”. I hope you have a friend, or a sister or a doctor that you can express your feelings too. I have two young kids and every day is a struggle but I try and push on for them. Take heed, it’s meant to get easier. Hugs x

    • July 17, 2014

      Tory Reply

      Emma, my heart is with you. Are you struggling as a new mom? Or burnout from working at this for a while? I agree, motherhood can be really tough; I moved away from any kind of support network when my first child was five months old. The last three years have been a long, slow process of building community, and there are days when I feel alone and isolated from the rest of the world. You are not alone.

    • July 17, 2014

      Layne Reply

      Hang in there. What you are doing is amazing.

      • July 29, 2014

        Emma Reply

        Hi, Emma here. Just wanted to say thank you all for your kind words, it really helped. I was having a really bad patch at home with two little ones, father in law just died so husband is emotionally gone, just given up my job, friends all out/unavailable, mum on holiday…..things are going better now, am picking up. Thanks again and love to all, Emma

    • July 6, 2016

      Alicia Reply

      Emma, I feel the same way, and it would be really nice to have someone offer help. I ask for help from my mother but hardly get it. It sucks. 🙁

  3. July 17, 2014

    Allison B Reply

    I love this list! I’m constantly telling my mom friends to take time for themselves and to take care of their bodies. You can’t take care of kids if you’re not taking care of yourself.

  4. July 17, 2014

    Angela Reply

    1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, all things I gotta work on…Thank you for the reminders to let go of the perfectionism. Because clinging to it only makes me miserable and stressed out, and if the Mama ain’t happy…

  5. July 23, 2014

    Leah Reply

    you always, always, always lift me up when i am feeling down, thank you! fighting a sinus infection and being way too hard on my 2 year old son. need to work on many of these points, but #3 is a big one for me. i am way too hard on him sometimes because i don’t want him to be a brat, but then i rob him of being a kid. always working on things over here and you always give me inspiration when i read something of yours.

    thank you so much.

  6. September 24, 2014

    A Reply

    How did you just climb inside my head and put the answer to why I feel the way I feel in those 10 points? I’m reading thinking ‘yes, yes, oh yes, totally me, omg that one too….’. I got a full house and now I have a checklist of what has to change. Thank you. Xxx

  7. September 24, 2014

    Leslie Reply

    In regards to #5. What if no one offers help? What if you’ve gotten so caught up with the guy in your life then the marriage then the pregnancy then the baby that you’ve neglected to establish and nurture true friendships so that when the time comes that you are at your wits end or simply just need thirty minutes to clean the bathroom that there is no one there to notice that you are run down, that you’ve cried already this morning, that your wrist hurts from holding your angel, that you’ve forgotten to eat ( or haven’t had the chance to). What then?

    • July 27, 2016

      Grainne Reply

      Dear Leslie
      You wrote a few years back so I’m hoping things are better for you now? Keep going, keep trying, and look after yourself,

  8. September 24, 2014

    Jennie Reply

    What an awesome article! I really needed it, and so greatly appreciate it, thank you for writing this. And I also want to say how glad I am, Emma, that things are looking up for you and that you are doing better! 🙂 I was so touched at the kind, loving women who wrote to you words of encouragement, and that you took the time to thank them….these are the things that mean so much! To see people being kind to one another, lifting each other up and saying things that help, not tear down. This made me so happy today! Faith in humanity restored! 🙂

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