3 Ways to Avoid Burnout When You’re Working and Raising Kids

After years of trial and error, here's what I've learned.

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Troyan/ Shutterstock
Troyan/ Shutterstock

In my world, women are supposed to have a successful career, make as much money as men, take care of the house, raise children, smile and be thin.

I’ve been there myself: working a management-level corporate job, raising a toddler while expecting a baby, exercising at the gym, traveling internationally, maintaining the home, having some social life, and trying hard to have it all.

Doing all of that made me feel powerful.

At least it made me feel much more powerful than my grand-ma, who raised kids but didn’t have the privilege to study, needed written permission from her husband in order to have a job, and had to wait for her 45th birthday to have a bank account to her name without permission from a male in the family.

Sure, to a 21st century woman, having it all is appealing.

But at the same time, our inner drive to do more, achieve more, experience more, can have a big negative impact on our health, on our careers and our families, and can take us to the land of burnout without us even noticing.

Burnout can be so woven into women’s lives that it becomes almost impossible to pinpoint and identify it before it takes its toll on our bodies and our life.

Incidentally, although I was often exhausted and feeling trapped in this golden hamster-wheel, burnout never managed to get the best of me.

Here’s what I did, which might also work for you.

Delegating housework and meals

Sometimes, finding balance is just too difficult.

More often than I would care to admit, I found myself in front of the vending machine at work, doing my best to pick the least unhealthy option, which I would eat in front of my computer because I was on a deadline. And when I came back home at 8pm exhausted from a day working at twice my capacity, simply thinking about what to make for dinner was too much.

At some point, I decided my health wouldn’t suffer and I didn’t have to do it all. So, on top of all the housework, I decided to delegate some grocery shopping, some lunches and all weekday dinners. I also had some childcare in the morning plus a full-time person that would take care of everything in the house.

This freed up a huge amount of time and mental space, and I stopped constantly feeling like I was “not enough”.

Not relying on stimulants and sugar to go through the day

When we’re overworked, we tend to rely on coffee or black tea to get through the day. These drinks feel energizing because caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, our short-term stress hormone.

Sure, this may make us feel more awake and more productive, but day in and day out, this constant strain on adrenal glands can cause sugar cravings, energy slumps, fatigue, and more.

Plus, these drinks also dehydrate the body instead of keeping it hydrated, which means fatigue is more pronounced and abilities to cope with stress can be hindered.

When we are constantly stressed, blood sugar can be a huge roller coaster, and sugary foods are often the go-to option. While our brain runs on glucose, processed sugars are not its preferred fuel.

I realize I never relied on neither sugar nor stimulants, and that probably saved my adrenal glands and helped to keep burnout away.

Making sure to never be sleep-deprived

If I wouldn’t have stuck to a non-negotiable 8-hour sleep schedule, burnout would probably have gotten the best of me at some point.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of Americans get less than the necessary 7 hours of sleep each night. It costs businesses billions in productivity, and it can cost us our health, our career, and our sanity.

Lack of sleep can have a lot of detrimental effects on both health and productivity. It can slow your information processing abilities, kill your problem-solving skills, hinder your creativity, and highly reduce your ability to cope with stress.

Sleep deprivation can also impair detoxification processes in the body, which take place during our sleep. It can cause hormonal disruptions that lead to food cravings and weight gain.

There are many ways to make sure you get enough sleep and doing so may save you from burnout.

Looking back, I realize what I did was focus on the things that I could control: my home, my diet and my sleep. And what I could not control, aka workload, traffic jams, deadlines, toddler tantrums, I simply did my best to cope with it.

Focusing on what we can control is already a huge step towards keeping burnout away.

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