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Mum Burnout: Exploring Symptoms, Impact, and Strategies to Help

Motherhood is both a journey filled with joy, love, and fulfillment, and an uphill climb that brings many challenges.

The many challenges can lead us to a greater sense of self knowledge and personal growth. And sometimes they can become too much, they can weigh too heavy on our shoulders. When mums are left feeling unsupported, overwhelmed, and as if we're failing at every turn - burnout approaches.

Mum burnout is a serious issue that can often be overlooked or dismissed. Even though it can have significant consequences for both you and your family.

A woman looking sad with a fake smile over her mouth

In this article, we'll explore the symptoms of mum burnout so that you can spot it if it comes knocking on your door, the impact of burnout, and we'll also look through some strategies to help mothers navigate through a tough time.

Symptoms of Mum Burnout:

  1. Constant Fatigue: This can come across as feeling tired all the time, even if you've had a rare (but amazing) run of full nights sleep. You may find yourself feeling physically and emotionally drained, struggling to find the motivation or energy to perform daily tasks.

  2. Emotional Exhaustion: When experiencing burnout, you may feel overwhelmed by a range of emotions daily, ranging from frustration and irritability to sadness and hopelessness. It might feel challenging to cope with the ongoing and relentless demands of modern parenting and you may find yourself withdrawing from social interactions.

  3. Loss of Interest / depersonalisation: Burnout can lead to a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. You might find yourself no longer interested in hobbies, friendships, or play and activities with your little ones.

  4. Increased Irritability: Small things that wouldn't typically bother you may suddenly become sources of great frustration and irritation. You might notice yourself acting this way with your loved ones and feel powerless to stop it, even though it doesn't feel like who you truly are.

  5. Difficulty Concentrating: Burnout can impair cognitive function, making it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. You might experience forgetfulness above and beyond that of 'mum brain' or have trouble staying focused on tasks.

  6. Physical Symptoms: Mum burnout can show up physically in our bodies. In addition to emotional and mental exhaustion, mum burnout can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and stomach problems.

A mum cuddling her baby close

Impact of Mum Burnout:

Have you noticed yet that the mood of the entire household and family seems to follow your lead?

Some days you have a spring in your step and a song in your heart, and the rest of your family (mostly) follow suit. And then on the days you're struggling, your partner and children seem to have a rain cloud over their heads too.

This is an unfortunate situation, as you're the one that needs support and mothering, and yet somehow no one is there to read what you need and offer it to you.

As a result, there are some impacts to mum burnout:

  1. Relationships at home: Burnout can take a toll on relationships within the family as it may feel challenging to connect with your partner and children.

  2. Negative Health Effects: Chronic stress and burnout can affect our physical health. Due to the level of cultural acceptance of, and lack of support for mum burnout, mums may be at increased risk of developing health conditions.

  3. Decrease in Productivity: When experiencing burnout and the lack of motivation that comes with it, it becomes a big challenge to fulfil every single expectation and responsibility laid at your feet. Especially if you're a mum that also works. This can lead to decreased productivity and feelings of inadequacy.

  4. Modelling Behaviour for Children: It would be fantastic if children really did do as we say, unfortunately they learn by example. This means that when we are burnt out and constantly stressed, we need to be cautious not to inadvertently pass on these behaviours to our children. Which can contribute to a cycle of stress and burnout within the family.

A flower in hands signifying hope

Strategies for Relief:

This can all sound quite grim, but never fear! There is always hope, and it is in our bones (and traditions for thousands of years) to help and support mums. We're all too keenly aware that in order to take care of our children, we must take care of their mothers!

A woman out on a walk looking as though she's blowing off steam

Below are some possible solutions to help with burnout:

  1. Do something that makes you feel like you again: It might feel impossible, but carving out even just one hour each week for for activities that replenish your energy and bring you joy will bring joy back into your home. Whether you enjoy reading, taking a long soak in the bath, visiting your nearest yoga class or going for a walk. Do your best to make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine - your children will truly thank you. Plus, if we believe that children learn by example, they will see that prioritising personal happiness is important and will model this in their own lives.

  2. Appreciate yourself as you already are: Think about how much you've taken on. You are responsible for the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of one or more children. You plan their meals, keep them safe, you run an entire household, make sure the fridge is stocked, the clothes and the house are clean(ish). And then if you work too, you have an entire set of other responsibilities and deadlines to meet. The mental load alone can feel exhausting sometimes. You really are doing great, even if you feel like a complete failure some days.

  3. Seek Support from those you trust: Don't hesitate to tell your partner what you're going through and how they can help. The chances are, they want you to be happy and will be more than happy to take on some of that never-ending to-do list! It can also be helpful to speak with friends, family members, or find support groups for help and encouragement. Talking to others who can relate to your experiences can provide such valuable emotional support.

  4. Boundaries are AMAZING: If you've been raised to never complain,. and to think of others feelings before your own, then this one will be both a huge challenge AND an absolute game changer. Practice saying no to commitments that drain your energy and leave you feeling overwhelmed. When you set boundaries around your time and energy, you free yourself up to put more of yourself into the parts of life you care about.

  5. Delegate Responsibilities: Quite similar to number 3 above; you don't have to do it all alone. Delegate tasks to your partner, children, or other family members to lighten your load and create more balance in your life.

  6. Practice Yoga, Meditation, Yoga Nidra or Mindfulness: It can feel overwhelming to know where to begin with this, but try a few things out and see what works for you. Yoga nidra is a deeply restful meditative practice and can be an invaluable tool for exhausted mums. Even if it's for 5 minutes before bed, incorporate mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your weekly or daily routine. These techniques can help reduce stress and increase your sense of resilience in the face of challenges.

  7. Professional Help is There for a Reason: If burnout is severely impacting your daily functioning and quality of life, you're not alone and you're not to blame. You're simply a human being that needs support through a difficult time. If you have the resources, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide personalised support and strategies to help you navigate through this challenging time. The NHS can also provide talk therapies to help.

A mum bonding with her baby

Mum burnout is a real and significant issue that many of us mums face, but it's important to remember that you're not alone and there are ways to find relief.

You are not alone in feeling this way, and lots of mums who have been through this before are always keen to offer support. Find your tribe, whether it's at a mum group, a yoga class, or through an online forum - we are all mums that get it.

When you see the symptoms of burnout in yourself, understand that it's not your fault and you're not failing. You are getting stronger simply for recognising your needs matter too. Once you feel compassion for yourself, take steps towards reclaiming your well-being and finding who you are again. Taking care of yourself isn't selfish—it's essential for being the best parent you can be.

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