School runs, prepping meals, navigating HBL (home-based learning) while simultaneously juggling work, doing laundry and cleaning house – mummy burnout is real and for some, it is super brutal. We all experience it at some point or other as we strive to be the best at everything whether it’s parenting, work or managing our kids’ school schedules and extracurricular activities. Why are we facing all this? For one, our society dictates that we have to be on top of it all and it doesn’t help when we scroll through the many social media pages and then get hit right in the face by FOMO (fear of missing out)! When mums have so much going on, it doesn’t take much to tip them over. How does mummy burnout feel like? It feels like you’ve had it with everything, you’re so ready to give up and give in; it feels like you’re suffering in silence and there’s no more joy in every single thing that you do. Your energy is zapped and your smile, non-existent.
Running ourselves to the ground and going on and on and on is beyond a doubt tiring. Worst yet, it can go on for years and becomes, well, a habit. Isn’t it about time we take control of the situation, find a balance, shelf the mum-guilt and stop this self-induced madness? What are the tell-tale signs and symptoms of mummy burnout? Are there ways to prevent it? How can we seek help? Here’s all that you need to know.
What Are The Physical Signs And Symptoms Of A Burnout?
This is not the usual tiredness long after the kids have gone to bed. This is more like dragging yourself out of bed, needing a nap every single day or else you cannot function and feeling entirely out of whack that you want to sleep before 8 pm. Your body is speaking to you and telling you that it’s time you let go and rest.
Erratic Mood Swings
If even the teeniest things get you riled up and you start getting entirely snappy for no apparent reason, then perhaps it’s a manifestation of feeling burnt out from all the responsibilities that you have. Sometimes you might even have a more-than-usual anxiety attack or get depressed at the slightest things. All these erratic mood swings stem from being entirely overwhelmed.
Resentment Of Your Partner And Kids
Resentment begins when you find yourself blaming everyone else for all that you’re feeling. You find yourself blaming your partner for not helping out more around the house and working late all the time. You start blaming your kids for your fatigue and exhaustion. This is when you also start comparing your kids and sometimes even your partner with other families and wish they’d be more like them. These are the thoughts that run through your head throughout the day and you struggle with that feeling of bitterness about your troop. Resentment can be dangerous and the minute this occurs, you know it’s time to take a step back and chill.
Let’s face it, after motherhood, your metabolic rate is not as high as it used to be. The cut back on sugar and intensive workouts just don’t seem to do wonders like they use to and your mum-belly is just there, never budging an inch. Yes, all part and parcel of a physical sign of burnout.
Poor Exercise Recovery
As if having a lower metabolic rate isn’t enough, now your achy muscles after a workout aren’t able to recover as fast as they used to. These muscle and joint pains reveal that you’ve been too tense for too long and you need to strike a balance when it comes to work, home and play. Feeling exhausted rather than energised after a workout session is a sure sign that you’re all burnt out.
Suddenly you’re getting little pimples again and your pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is way worse than it used to be. What’s more, you’re periodically experiencing irregular cycles. These are clear signs that your mind and body are under duress.
Schools are germ beds and the minute one child contracts the flu, it’ll spread like wild fire to the rest! If you’re catching the flu from your kids ever so often and your sinuses are super sensitive all the time, this is a sure indicator that your immune system needs some tender loving care.
Poor Gut Health
What does poor gut health have to do with burnout? Everything! Symptoms like bloating, heartburn, cramping, diarrhoea, or constipation more often than not are related to stress and more so, Mum stress!
How To Prevent A Burnout?
Have A Good Support System
Talking it out is key and it really helps to have a good support system. Share with your partner and friends about your struggles. Let them in on how they can help you so that you can have a breather as well as some much needed me-time. If you don’t have a support group, create one and not just with your partner and circle of friends. Find other mum-friends from your children’s school, support groups or even just through play dates. Other mums are a wonderful resource because they’ve been there, done that, and can relate to exactly what you’re going through now.
Carve Out Time For Yourself
Let go of that mum-guilt and take time off whenever you need to! Put it simply, if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after your kids. Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’re not looking after your family; it means that you are refuelling your engine so that you regroup and be back stronger than ever to care for everyone. Start a new hobby or take up a new fitness class you’ve always wanted to try out. These little things that you do for yourself will make a huge difference in your emotional health and prevent a burnout.
Spend Time With Your Partner
Couple time is important and don’t underestimate the power of having a regular date night with your significant other. A simple night out or even a few hours spent together can give you that emotional boost especially on those days when you feel a burnout creeping in.
Get Sufficient Sleep
A good night’s rest does wonders and if you’re one of those that emerges revitalised after a power nap, make sure you catch those when you need to. The lack of sleep accentuates your fatigue which in turn has a snowball effect on all the other symptoms which will eventually lead to a burnout.
Do Not Overschedule Yourself And Your Kids
Learn to say ‘no’ to yourself and your kids when it comes to packing both your schedules with an immense number of responsibilities and activities! It’s alright if you can’t include dance lessons in your daughter’s already-packed schedule this semester or if it’s impossible to add football to your son’s extracurricular activities. Similarly, you don’t have to volunteer for every single school event if you’re schedule doesn’t allow it. Simplify your days to add in free time and you’ll make mummy burnout a less likely occurrence.
Let Your Children Help You
Of course you would want the best for your children and in that mode, you’d want to do everything for them. However, at some point, you must let go and allow your kids to do things for themselves. Raising independent children begins with trusting that your kids are old enough to help you around the house and you shouldn’t mollycoddle them. For sure there will be messiness and accidents when kids are doing things on their own, but that’s how they learn. The more they help you, the less you will have to do.
Where To Seek Help?
Check on your emotional state using the online tool on Focus on the Family Singapore’s website that offers conversation starters for mums to use with their husbands, as well as a limited number of free consultations.
AMKFSC is a leading community-based social service agency that provides a holistic range of services to support kids, youths, families and seniors at multiple touchpoints across Singapore. It operates four family service centres across Ang Mo Kio, Sengkang and Punggol. They also provide other support services such as student care, senior services, a youth centre and mental health support programmes.
MUMs for Life celebrates a mum’s unique identity as a woman and her irreplaceable roles as a daughter, wife and mother. Visit their website to find out more about upcoming workshops and webinars. You can also check out their Heart of a Mother Experience (HOME) programme that aims to build safe spaces for mothers to come together and share their joys and struggles, so they can seek wholeness and fulfilment. Download the brochure here
In an emergency situation, contact SOS that is dedicated to providing confidential emotional support to individuals facing a crisis, thinking about or affected by suicide.