Stay at home mom burnout is real. In our quest to do it all we end up having less to give to the people who brought us home to begin with.
I stood in front of a super hot stove top – stirring sauce that was nearly bubbling over – with my fussy 1 year old on my hip.
He would not allow me to put him down and cook with leisure. You see, I had tried several times… it wasn’t happening. Also, he was teething, clingy, and wanted mommy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love holding my babies. The problem was that I had a lot more to do to finish dinner and I needed my other hand.
I stood there in the kitchen with my baby on my hip and my stove top running over…
I had an epiphany.
All this time I’ve been telling myself that I need to get everything done on time, perfectly, and without breaking a sweat.
Mom burnout was just a way of life because I never could get everything perfectly in order.
I used to think that maybe, just maybe, if I made a few tweaks and bought a few gadgets then everything would miraculously look like Martha Stewart’s Vineyard house.
That’s a lie because doing everything perfectly is impossible. It’s a lie that will cause us to have mom burnout. You see, we can’t possibly do it all!
In fact, the hard truth is this… being a mother is limiting.
Feeling the Limits of a Mother
I am limited…
There, I said it…
First of all, somewhere along the way we bought into the idea that we have to be perfect.
Secondly, We honestly believe that we can be great moms, great homemakers, great volunteers, great workers, great friends, great wives, and great thinkers.
All at once…
We think that excelling (however we define that) in every area of life is the minimum standard. The truth is, we can even manage to hold this idea together pre-motherhood because we are in control of most aspects of our life.
And then we have kids…
Kids are Limiting
I wasn’t a mom long before I realized that kids are little humans with great needs and the inability to meet those needs… I have felt the limiting power of the kids and experienced mom burnout.
A mom’s main household objective, for quite a few years, is to simply meet the basic physical and emotion needs of our little ones.
If we’re honest, this is limiting.
Let me give you some examples…
First of all, bad dreams, teething pain, or baby’s sleeping habits will limit the amount of sleep I receive.
What my children are able and willing to eat cause my cooking to be limited.
My husband willingness to let me get away limits the amount of alone time I get.
Childcare, available funds, and my energy limit my hobbies and simple joys.
Vacation options are limited because who wants to drag 5 kids (under 6) through the Met, the Louvre, or the Smithsonian?
Lastly, the amount of work I get done is limited to how much time I’m willing and able to spend away from the kids.
You see where I’m going?
Limits are Natural and Good (to avoid Mom Burnout)
While having my epiphany over the boiling stovetop… I actually felt relief.
Relief happened when I least expected it.
Consequently, pressure and stress come from thinking we can, and therefore should, do all things well.
On the flip side, relief, grace, and freedom come from understanding out natural limits. Realistic limits on our time, resources, and capacity can stop us from having mom burnout.
Relief came to me because I embraced these limits and lived in the moment.
Limits help us make good choices and avoid mom burnout…
First of all, I choose to spend my time wisely because the amount of leisure time I have is limited.
Becoming distracted by social media is pointless because I know my limits on work time that day.
Furthermore, my cooking is done in a limited time so I will choose easy recipes.
My ability to remain sane is limited so I will say no to opportunities, events, or responsibilities that stretch me Past The Point.
Last but not least, I am limited in my willingness to constantly clean the house so I will get rid of unnecessary clutter and unused toys.
We Don’t Want to Regret
Embracing limits is so important because when we move at breakneck speed, we are going to reach mom burnout…the end of our rope!
At end of our rope is crankiness, stress, anxiety, anger, yelling, weepiness, overwhelm, and depression.
Furthermore, If we don’t embrace our natural and seasonal limits it will lead to mom burnout. We will achieve mom burnout by making sure everything gets done Perfectly and Presentably.
Undoubtably, this will leave you with no energy left for what that caused out limits in the first place…
Watch for these signs that you haven’t embraced your limits. Mom burnout may happen soon…
- You feel resentful when your children are “needy.”
- Stress is a general rule.
- You feel like life is running you, not the other way around.
- There’s a deep desire for change, but you don’t know where to begin.
- You’re frequently looking for an escape (probably with your cell phone).
- Not measuring up to other’s standards cause you to feel guild and shame.
The good news is this…
You can take a long hard look at your own limits today and make a change.
Be honest with yourself and embrace your limits.
You already can’t do it all. Admitting the truth to yourself is like cold aloe vera on a sunburn.
It stings at first, but helps bring healing.
You are limited in your emotional, spiritual, and relational capacity.
Knowing this will help you choose to focus on the things that are most important and drop the rest of your unrealistic expectations and standards.
In conclusion, just as limits are necessary with small children, they are necessary with us.
Remember these truths…
Limits highlight our priorities.
Limits guard our mental health.
And limits bring freedom.
Stirring My Sauce
As I stood there with my baby on my hip, stirring the spaghetti sauce, I felt instantly better. It’s okay if dinner isn’t gourmet, we’re eating on plastic plates, and the house isn’t “company ready” 24/7.
I have my limits.
5 of them, to be exact.
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