How Motherhood Burnout Actively Harms Kids

If people don't care enough about women's burnout, maybe they'll consider the kids.

Mother burned out from stress, trying to not let it affect her children Natalia Deriabina | Shutterstock

When we run around from place to place and are late while eating, driving, texting, and talking on the phone, we show our kids that life is chaotic. When we are stressed, we can’t be present. If our kids have something they want to talk to us about, we aren’t available to listen.

When we overschedule work and social lives, we are likely to overschedule their school, athletic, and social lives, too. Some kids tell me they don’t have time to hang out with friends because they are too busy.


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Here's how motherhood burnout harms kids.

1. They can't see an end in sight

One of the factors correlated to burnout is that the stress is chronic and won’t ever stop. When your child completes a project or finishes playing on a sports team, be sure there is a break so they experience stressful things having a start and end point.

@blacksupermamas After having two kids in 3 years and trying to balance multiple hats I've had more than enough days of being burned out, irritated, defeated, and just overwhelmed. I neglected myself so much that It was hard to recognize myself in the mirror.If you can relate, you're not alone. Constantly showing up for those around us, it's easy to put ourselves on the back burner and operate on autopilot. So when I told you I had your back sis, I didn't forget about you!🔗 on profile! #momburnout #motherhood #momguilt #postpartum #blackmoms #momsoftiktok #motherhoodjourney ♬ original sound - Meagan Blair

2. You don't insist on self-care and downtime for your child

Make sure they have time to do the things they love to do in a non-competitive way and that there is time in their schedule every week for boredom. Yes, that time is needed to be creative, innovative, and relaxed.


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3. You don't reduce multimedia exposure time

This includes phones, iPads, television, and computer time. The level of stimulation that kids receive daily overloads their developing brains. Taking tech breaks reduces stress hormones flowing into their bodies and increases relaxation.

These tips apply to parents, too. 

I suggest making destressing a family affair so everyone practices self-care, reduces stress, and knows the signs of chronic stress to prevent family burnout.

Research on burnout in adults and children shows a correlation between the level of stress that parents feel at work and the stress their kids feel at school. Stress and anxiety over money seem to predict the highest levels of burnout. Feeling burned out can run in the family.


Our high, uncontrolled stress levels that result in us feeling burned out are detrimental to our kids because we act as their role models. They are constantly watching what we say, what we do, and how we cope with stress. Kids are stressed out, which means they are likely to become burned-out adults.

One of the factors that contribute to that staggering statement is that they have poor coping skills. I think that we, too, have poor coping skills in dealing with the tremendous stress that we now live with daily.

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She is experiencing motherhood burnout Natalia Deriabina via Shutterstock


In kids, certain behaviors may be signs they are burned out:

  • Loss of energy and interest in things they used to care about
  • Anxiety rears its head socially and in school
  • They say, "‘I don’t care” a lot
  • Reduced personal accomplishment
  • More easily distracted than usual

We need to save our kids from the unachievable standards of perfection we place on them. And parents need to be freed from their unachievable standards of parenting perfection.

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Dr. Sheryl Ziegler is a mother, Doctor of Psychology, speaker, and author of the new 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

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