The house is a mess. The past week’s dinners were almost all takeout. Your boss is breathing down your neck about your deadlines. And there is a mountain of laundry that you have yet to get started on. You don’t know when life started getting so stressful, but you don’t know where to start fixing it. Sound familiar? We’ve all been through it at one point or another.
Getting burnt out is not uncommon when you’re a parent—especially if you are also working. However, it shouldn’t be the norm. High amounts of stress are never good for anybody, let alone someone who has little people relying on them for love and care. With that in mind, it is imperative that you recognize the signs of burnout and prevent it from happening before it occurs.
Here are some of the most common signs of impending burnout that you should watch out for:
1. Exhaustion and low energy
Usually, the first sign that you’re headed for burnout is feeling constantly exhausted. While it is common for moms to be tired—especially for those who have infants and toddlers—the level of exhaustion that accompanies burnout is often more severe. You go to sleep exhausted, and you wake up exhausted; it almost seems like your energy is perpetually depleted, and the worst part is, you feel like no amount of sleep can fix it.
2. Detachment or feeling cold towards your children
Feelings of coldness or detachment towards your children can be a sign of depression, but it can also come with personal and professional burnout. Once you recognize these negative emotions, it’s high time to start finding solutions.
One way to remedy this problem is to, well, spend more time with your children. Take your daughter to tumbling classes for beginners or have ice cream with your son after school. Take naps with them, go to the park together, or just simply hug them a bit longer after getting home from work. It’s these little things that can go a long way, and every little bit of time that you spend bonding with your kids can help prevent burnout.
3. Changes in eating habits
Another sign that you’re about to burn out (or are already in burnout) is when you’ve started to eat differently. For example, you may have started eating less or more than you usually do. Or perhaps you’re eating things that you usually don’t eat, which are usually unhealthy choices. If you are starting to lose or gain weight, it is probably time to evaluate your stress levels.
4. Sleep problems
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up multiple times through the night for no reason? Do you find yourself plagued by thoughts of work while in bed? These can be signs of impending burnout, and you should strive for healthier sleep hygiene to reduce your risk of developing health problems related to lack of sleep. Some of the best ways to do that include:
- Not using your phone before bed
- Avoiding taking your work back home
- Bathing or showering before bed
- Listening to relaxing music or white noise
- Keeping the bedroom at a cooler temperature
- Using a weighted blanket
- Keeping the bedroom pitch black
If your sleep problems persist, try talking to your GP or a sleep specialist.
5. Lack of enjoyment
Another common symptom of impending burnout is the loss of enjoyment in activities that you used to enjoy. It is also a common sign of depression. For example, if you’ve always found great joy in reading books but it suddenly doesn’t appeal to you anymore, you may be too stressed out or are suffering from a mental health problem. Either way, it’s important to talk to someone about your feelings, ideally a therapist.
6. Increased irritability
Do you catch yourself being overly agitated at your children at home? Or do you feel constantly annoyed with your co-workers even if there is no real reason? You may be overwhelmed with your own stress and exhaustion that you are projecting it onto others. Before it starts to affect your relationships with those around you—especially your family—strive to find the reasons for your burnout and correcting them as soon as possible.
These are just some of the signs of an impending mom burnout—there are a lot more that other parents go through—but these are some of the most common among many moms. If you’ve found one or two signs that apply to you, it’s high time to reevaluate your life and start working towards a happier, less stressful lifestyle.