Recently, I’ve heard a lot about burn out in careers. I understand how people get burnt out and how they try to push through until the burn out is extreme and then they end up changing careers completely.
But what about mom burn out? Is that a thing? Because I think I have it sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love my kids and couldn’t imagine my life any other way, but some days I am so burnt out by the time my husband arrives home, that answering a simple question seems like too much. Being the default parent is hard sometimes. Add to that being a homeschool family, trying to make everything your family eats from scratch, running a side hustle, making sure you are giving each child individual attention, making time for your partner, and obligating yourself to activities for church or groups, some things seem impossible some days.
What do I mean by default parent, you ask? I am talking about the parent who the kids automatically go to with a question or request, the parent who takes on the brunt of the discipline and responsibility of the kids. In my household, I am the default parent because I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom. If I need to take a shower, I ask my husband if he has the kids, so I can go in peace. If I need to run to the car, I let my husband know so he knows I am not in the house. However, if my husband needs to get something from outside or takes out the garbage, he does so without a second thought. It’s not like one makes the decision to be the default parent; it just happens naturally and it makes sense. The parent who is responsible for the kids, is in the home or picks the kids up from school, and does homework with the kids, is naturally going to take on the role of the default parent, but sometimes it is exhausting.
My husband and I spoke about being the default parent. He hadn’t realized how much the kids automatically come to me for things until I mentioned it. My husband watched the kids come find me while I was doing laundry rather than asking him to refill their cup when he was already in the kitchen. The kids would knock on the door while I was in the shower when my husband was available in the living room. In short, the kids automatically defaulted to asking me even when their dad was better positioned to help them. I thought this was just in my house, but after talking with other parents, I know that so many others experience the same thing. Some days I feel like I have answered one million questions and the thought of one more is just too much.
So how can you combat feeling like the world rests on your shoulders?
1. Delegate. That sounds easy enough, but I feel like I have to have a hand in everything in order for it all to get done, so I first have to realize that just because something doesn’t get done the way I would do it, doesn’t mean it is wrong. I have to allow myself to delegate tasks to the kids and my husband. I have the kids help clean up from dinner so the stress of kitchen clean up doesn’t fall just on me. I also have the kids help with laundry; we all wear the clothes and use the towels, so it helps when they pitch in.
2. Meal plan. We come up with a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu for the week and then my husband chooses a day or two in which he wants to cook (if we have numerous appointments on a specific day or if I have a lot of cake orders on a day, he makes dinner). This helps me feel like everything doesn’t fall onto my shoulders every single day.
3. Plan ahead! This one was hardest for a while, but is now second nature. I plan out on which days I am making what foods. For example, since we are gluten free, I make homemade cheese two to three times a week. I also make gluten free protein muffins and freeze them. I do things to make life a little easier on myself and this helps tremendously. Whether it’s baking ahead of time or planning homeschool lessons in advance, planning ahead is beneficial for everyone even if the plan has to shift.
4. Ask for help. This is still the hardest thing for me, but if you don’t ask for help, no one will know that you need it. If I am overly stressed, I ask my husband to help me with whatever it is that I can’t fit into the day. Sometimes he helps me realize that it doesn’t ALL have to fit into one day. I ask my mom to help with something or babysit the kids so I can do what I need. Other times, I need someone to be there with me so I don’t feel so overwhelmed.
5. Take time for yourself. Whether it’s 30 minutes to read or to watch your favorite tv show, or have a girls’ day out, take time to remember you are still you. Yes, you may be a mom, wife/girlfriend, daughter, aunt, friend, cook, chauffeur, teacher, nurse, and all the other things rolled into one, but you are still you and you need time to remember that you are so much more than what everyone else sees you as.