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10 Life Hacks That Will End Mommy Burnout, Once and For All

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mommy burnout life hacks
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You can do this.

Are you exhausted all the time or constantly saying how busy you are? Are you getting cynical at home or snapping at your kids? Do you avoid sex with your partner, fantasize about running away, or even worse, hoping you sick so you can finally rest and be left alone for a little while?

If so, you're likely experiencing burnout. And if you are a mom, it’s called Mommy Burnout.

But you don't have to accept burnout as your fate.

You don’t have to wear busy as a badge of honor. You don’t have to secretly resent your kids for getting in the way of the life you thought you were going to have. And most of all, you don’t have to keep chasing that image of the perfect mother, with the perfect kids, and the perfect house.

The good news is: It truly is possible for you to overcome mommy burnout with the help of a few life hacks.

These life hacks for dealing with mommy burnout are things I have personally tried (yes, I have been burned out), or things I have advised my clients in private practice to try that they've reported were helpful.

Here are 10 life hacks that will help you overcome feelings of burnout, and go from merely surviving to thriving:

1. Schedule in self-care each and every day.

If you're waiting for a free hour or so to do something for yourself, you might be waiting a lifetime. Instead, take control of your day and schedule it in to avoid feelings of burnout.

Self-care means so many different things to each of us. It can depend on what stage your kids are in, whether you are working inside or outside of the house, and whether you are a single parent or not.

For me, some days self-care means getting a manicure and other days it means curling up with a book in a hidden corner of a book store. It just depends on the week, so keep an open mind and know that if you schedule it into your day, it is more likely to actually happen.

2. Practice 10 minutes a day of being still and quiet.

Also known as meditation, this practice leads to more calmness and mindfulness and can help you from feeling burned out. This is one of the hardest tips for moms to even imagine, let alone practice, but it’s crucial to our mental health.

When I first started meditating, I went downstairs early in the morning and sat still for 5 minutes. I found my mind being flooded with the day's to-do list, and honestly, it wasn’t so enjoyable.

But the more I practice this (and to be clear, I am still a work in progress), the more I get to stillness, am better able connect to my breath, and truly feel gratitude and ready for the day ahead.

These 10 minutes actually feel like “me time” — and that is a gift that helps me from feeling mommy burnout.

3. Exercise daily.

I know. We all hear this often, but find it hard to find the time or motivation to get up and go to a class or the gym. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should give up on it.

I advise a few things, from taking brisk walks outside daily to finding a type of exercise that you really look forward to. You are also more likely to be successful at regular exercise if you have a workout buddy. So, try out barre, Pilates, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, or  the treadmill, and find what you like.

4. Prioritize your rest.

Getting good sleep and taking naps might sound like a luxury most busy moms can't afford, but if you don’t sleep well, you will find it hard to avoid burnout — it’s that plain and simple.

It is difficult to avoid the effects of chronic stress and emotional and physical exhaustion without resting your mind and body at night. Your sleep should be just as high on the priority list as that of your children’s naps and bedtimes.

So, if that means going to bed with some things left undone, it is likely worth it. If that means setting up a bedtime for yourself that helps you go to sleep around the same time every night, then do it. Because in order to experience the benefits, quality sleep and napping takes consistency and practice.

Whatever it takes so that you are getting as deep, long and un-interrupted sleep as possible is what your focus should be. And if it's possible to get a power nap in during your day, research shows it helps with mood stability and productivity, to name just a few of the benefits. 

5. Journal your progress.

Try to write daily, and if that’s not possible, then a few times a week. In your journal, include all the things you have accomplished that day or week.

Reminding ourselves that we accomplished more than just a hundred loads of wash and cooking multiple dinners — but also got out birthday party invitations, volunteered, signed the kids up for summer camp, and so on — will give you a great sense of achievement for the little things that can go unnoticed, unless you take the time to write it out.

And you can do so in bullet journaling fashion so it’s not too wordy or time consuming, but truly does help you feel better about how you spent your day or week. And this sense of accomplishment can stop you from feeling overly burned out.

6. Take time outs.

Yes, you can take a break! When we are with our kids and things are getting frustrating (from homework, to lost socks, to messy bedrooms), we often have a hard time disengaging from the issue at hand. We tend to engage in power struggling more when we are stressed out.

So note to self: When you notice you are battling with your kid, say out loud, “Mommy is going to take a time out because I am getting frustrated. When I am calm, I will come back to finish this conversation.” This works well for you because you get to leave the space with intention (to calm down) all the while modeling healthy stress management skills for your kid.

During your time out, you should focus on taking a few deep breaths and calming yourself down. When you return to your child, you will find that the time you spent away will be made up by having a much more effective conversation.

7. Switch up your routine.

One of the issues in our lives that can fuel burnout is feeling like we are stuck in a rut. When moms feel like they get up, cook, clean, take care of kid’s needs, work and do the same thing day in and day out, they can lose a sense of joy in their lives.

The idea that our lives are predictable and lack excitement makes moms question, “is this it?” So, be sure that on a weekly basis you are mixing things up a bit.

Simple things — like changing what you cook for dinner, what route you drive to your kids' school, going out to lunch with different friends, and being spontaneous whenever possible — can go a long way to preventing burnout.

8. Eat well.

This is another piece of advice that we hear a lot but can find challenging to achieve. It helps so much when you fuel your mind and body with healthy whole foods, rather than snacking on your kids' leftovers or eating chips to get through the afternoon.

That blood sugar spike and crash is very real. For so many of us, this crash timing happens just as we're picking up our kids from school, which causes us to feel tired and irritable.

So, from the perspective of maintaining a positive mood from breakfast to dinner, try to eat protein-rich foods to help with your ability to deal with the day’s stress.

9. Have tech-free times every single day.

Studies are showing us more and more that the exposure to social media, constantly shopping online and working all day long in front of screens is detrimental to our well-being. The more you look at other people’s Facebook or Instagram pages, the worse you feel about yourself, your kids, or your life.

So do yourself a favor and limit how much time you spend online. If following someone's social media account makes you feel bad about yourself, consider not following them anymore. Although we are more connected online, we are less social with people in real life than ever before.

Take the time you would spend mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds and connect with someone you love or want to get to know better. Set up a call or a dinner, and have real conversations. This will help reduce your stress and burnout.

10. Remember this is a stage — it will change.

If you have young children and are constantly picking up after them, not sleeping through the night or dealing with daily meltdowns, it's important to remember that this will pass. If you have teenagers who roll their eyes at you and slam doors, this is a stage, too.

When I'm feeling stuck or burned out, it has been helpful for me to remember that life is constantly changing. When we are stressed, the days don’t always seem to go fast and hope can start to fade away.

So just remember: Your kids will mature and develop, your daily routine will change ,and getting back to being a woman, friend, sister, runner, or daughter — outside of mainly just being “Johnny’s mom” — will return, as will redefining your purpose. 

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler is a mother, Doctor of Psychology, speaker, and author of the upcoming book, Mommy Burnout: How Addressing Yours Will Make You A Better Mother And Create A Better Life For Your Children. You can follow her parenting advice in her newsletter by signing up today or visiting mommyburnout.com.

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