As women, we bear the brunt of childcare, home management, event planning, and social coordinating, often while holding full-time jobs. Although we may have partners who support and tend to the many moving parts of our daily lives, the mental checklists and the energy that we invest in maintaining inventory of household items, coordinating pick-ups, drop-offs, birthdays, and so much more, still sit with us, the moms.
Mama, it’s time to do some self-caring. It’s time to do something small each day that gives you a mental break, something that makes you happy, something you crave. I know it’s not easy. I know that our to-do lists are eternal and always gaining just “one more thing.” We make the lives of our children and the people around us magical. We thrive on making others happy. But what about us? What about making ourselves happy, or giving ourselves the break we tell so many others around us to take?
I know this is easier said than done, but to maintain your sanity and minimize chronic burnout, you must make time for yourself. Aim for a particular time each night, even if it’s a different time each day but designate the time, set an alarm—watch a show, read a book, listen to a podcast, or take a walk. Whatever it is that relaxes your body and quiets your mind from the day. If you find yourself unable to settle down each night because your thoughts are out of control, that is a signal to you that you have not given your body and brain time to process the day and end the day.
Just as you schedule events, drop-offs, and pick-ups, set aside at least 30 minutes each day for yourself. At first, it may feel forced or the part of the day that you would like to fill with something else. However, once it becomes a part of your routine, you will cherish and protect that time.
If you’re a mom who wants to do it all and be it all for your family, then there is a strong chance that you have a difficult time saying No when you are asked to run this fundraising committee or to take on a task, or a few tasks, for the sake of your children. I know, I’ve been there. Over the years, I’ve figured that it was “good for my children;” therefore, it was “good for me too.” Nope, nope, nope.
I’ve felt like my already intense list of things to handle was big enough and adding a few more things was no big deal and that I can handle it. Do these phrases sound familiar to you? They’ve guided me right to burnout, which is no fun for anyone, especially for my children.
When asked to take on a new commitment, don’t make a decision right away. I tend to say Okay pretty quickly without thinking it through. Take a breath and say something like, “Let me think about it and get back to you in the next few days.” Really think about this commitment, is it going to benefit you and your child. If it doesn’t, you can say, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m going to pass this time.” This message is communicating that you needed time to consider, that you are not the Yes person who will take on anything, which will hopefully result in not being the person who is always asked to take on one more thing. Setting that clear boundary for yourself is also a form of self-respect for your time and your energy. And if it helps any, you’re also modeling for your children that self-care and setting yourself and your needs is a priority
Maintain friendships and relationships outside of your home
As moms, we think about our children’s needs before we think of our own. In fact, we think of everyone else’s needs around us before we think of our own. By the time we finish all of the calculating and planning, there isn’t much time left to create plans for yourself. One thing I know for sure is that I need time with my friends. I value it, I crave it, and I look forward to it.
It’s important for you, as a woman and a mother, to have relationships that are your own and not necessarily and always centered around your children or even your significant other. Just for yourself. If you are fortunate enough to have a friend who is the “coordinator” of social plans, great; accept the invitation, place the date on your calendar, and set up childcare around that event. If not, then coordinate with whomever you want to see and where you want to go—dinner, a play, a movie, a weekend, whatever works for you.
Remember, before you were a mom or a wife, you were a person, a woman, a friend, a sister. Make sure you honor those roles in your life as much as you honor your role as a mom.
Mama burnout is an easy place to reach. Monitor how you feel, take a rest when you need it (you don’t have to earn it and it is Not a luxury), and build in rest time to prevent burnout.