Being a mum is an awesome privilege and – most of the time – our greatest joy. There are too many precious moments to remember, of bear hugs and wet kisses, handmade cards and heart-to-heart talks. But motherhood has its down days, and some seasons may get more rough than others.
Mothers – stay-at-home (SAHM) or otherwise – are constantly in grave danger of suffering burnout. After all, we’re running our homes like a company most days, with schedules to keep, mouths to feed and chores to complete. Full-time working mothers (FTWM), perhaps, are more likely to suffer burnout as they juggle their roles and stressors in both the office and at home. Then again, it depends a lot on your context, and every woman’s context is unique.
Wondering if you are suffering from mummy burnout? Here are eight tell-tale signs to look out for.
1. You find yourself shouting a lot more than you’d like to
The smallest of incidents triggers you. Spilled milk. A missing block. A spelling mistake. You find it hard to be patient with everyone, including yourself. Sometimes, you shout and scold the kids, even though you can hear that small voice inside you telling you to hold back and find another way to get your message across in a less harsh manner.
2. You resent your kids
You find yourself wishing your kids would just grow up and behave so you didn’t have to be this responsible for them. You find yourself blaming them for your lack of energy. You constantly compare them with your friends’ kids, and wish they were a bit more understanding, a bit more obedient, a bit easier to manage. Sometimes, you wish they had never been born, and you were back in the early days of marriage.
3. You resent your husband
Why isn’t he home more? Why does he have to do OT again? What can’t he be more like so-and-so’s husband, who takes his kids to all their enrichment classes and plans fun outings on the weekend? These are some of the questions that run through your mind many times a day, and you struggle with that feeling of bitterness about your “lot” and wishing your other half was twice the man he seems to be.
4. You wish your life were drastically different
You often imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have kids. Weekly mani-pedis perhaps, and late night dates with your husband. Weekend getaways to exotic locations, and nights of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. You long for all that your life could be now if you weren’t a mum.
5. You can’t keep track of scheduled appointments
The days seem to run into each other all the time, and you find yourself forgetting appointments or getting the dates and times all jumbled up. Sometimes it feels like your life is run by your planner, instead of by you. There are too many things to do and people to see, and no time left for “just you”.
6. The task of planning what to do over the weekend feels overwhelming
You can’t even begin to think about this weekend, let alone the next school holidays. If only the weekend would plan for itself! You wish you could just stay at home, and have a day to yourself, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
7. You can’t remember the last time you felt good about your life
Singlehood feels like a whole lifetime ago, and those early rosy days of marriage are but a distant memory now. You wish you could recapture some of those moments when you felt really blessed and contented, when life felt so worthwhile and meaningful. Now, you struggle to find the meaning and joy of each new day.
8. You feel like everybody else is doing a fantastic job at this motherhood gig – except you.
You look at the kids’ messy room, the pile of unwashed laundry, the overflowing ironing basket, the empty photo frames waiting to be filled… and you feel like a complete failure as a wife and mum. And all those Pinterest kitchens and homeschooling mum blogs certainly don’t make you feel any better about yourself!
If this if you, here are some things you can do to get out of this burnout “rut”.
Get help. Talk to your husband first, then your close friends, and share with them how you’ve been feeling about all the things that are on your place. Let them be the help you need, so that you can have a breather and some time to yourself. Plan in me-time, and make it a priority.
Let go of the mummy guilt. Your kids won’t suffer if they attend one less enrichment class or eat out a couple of times a week. And that husband of yours is perfectly capable of – and probably very willing to take on the task of – ironing his own shirt for work. Learn to say “no”, and to be ok with it. There will be more new and exciting opportunities to come.
Recommended Read: First Time Mum Series: Letting Go of Mummy’s Guilt
Find a creative outlet for yourself. Self-expression is a great way of relieving stress, and each of us may have our own unique ways of doing it. For some, it might be painting an artpiece. For others, it might be baking cookies, or washing the car, or gardening. Whatever your therapy is, be sure to plan it in as part of your me-time.
And lastly, fight the green-eyed monster. Don’t compare. Recognize that every parent is really doing the best they can, and what works for one family might not work for yours. Be thankful for what you do have and the strengths that you possess, and just keep giving your best to your family as you have always done. And be happy. That’s all everyone wants – that’s all everyone needs, really.
By Dorothea Chow