To the Mom on the Brink of Burnout
To the Mom on the Brink of Burnout
By: Colleen Temple
I know there are some days where you’re cruising right along in life, and you feel like you’re rocking that whole “balance” thing. Everything seems to be lining up nicely for you. You’re juggling near perfection, you’re multitasking left and right and you’re doling out tasks efficiently.
It feels like you’re doing things “right.”
But I know those days don’t last. And I know how quickly that false sense of balance disappears. And I know what it feels like to be doing things “wrong.”
I know this isn’t much, but I want you to know—I feel your pain.
You are burnt out. And you’re not alone.
I see the running mental list in your brain—reply to that email ASAP, text her back, price out different karate classes, buy a baby shower gift, take meat out for dinner, flip the laundry, order new water bottles on Amazon, etc. etc. etc.
I see you waking up before the sun rises—to get your work done so you can spend time with your kids later.
I see you staying up late at night, worrying that you won’t be able to handle all of this—all the responsibility that comes with being a mother. (Or trying to sneak in some quiet time to yourself.)
I see your email inbox—over 20k messages that you meant to get to—some day? I feel you. I see those text messages you need to return because you read them and forgot about them immediately due to someone needing their shoes tied or the need to take crayons away from the toddler who was devouring them.
I see that dirty dish. That stain. That boo-boo. That full trash can. That pair of shoes in your path. That pile of mismatched socks that no one knows what to do with. That old piece of food on the ground.
I hear your multitasking woes. Cooking dinner and answering questions like “how big are dinosaur poops?” while also typing out a grocery list and simultaneously taking the trash out is a lot.
I hear you complaining about how you feel like you can’t keep up. That everything is moving too fast—your mind is racing and there’s not enough time to get everything done.
I hear your cries in the shower. And sometimes when you lay your head down at night. You’re not sure if you did enough today. Gave enough today. Were enough today.
I hear the ticks of your safety checklist. Did I properly lock the cleaning cabinet? Did I turn my back at the wrong time? Did I turn the oven off? It’s draining to live in fear of the Big Motherhood Mistake we feel we’ll inevitably make.
I hear your memory sigh with exhaustion. It’s tired of everything it’s asked to remember—the dry cleaning, the doctor’s appointments, the dates of birthdays and special events, the diaper size change on the monthly Amazon Prime order, the “right” color toothbrush, the specific way you need to pour the milk…
I feel your disappointment in yourself. You sometimes feel like you’re failing—even though you’re doing best every single day.
I feel your panic attack that comes with a new crisis—at work, at home, in the news. Sometimes it just feels like you want to yell, “Enough is enough!”
I feel the heavy weight of guilt. The guilt of wanting to do it all, wanting to be it all, wanting to remember it all—for everyone, all the time.
I feel your heart break when you make another ‘mistake.’ When you surrender to the chaos and give up on perfection. When you mess up, say the wrong thing, or offend someone. When you just can’t handle every demand you see, hear and feel.
I feel your need for people to see you as more than just “Mom.” As a human, a woman, an intellectual, an employee, a friend.
I feel the burn out.
It’s a tricky feeling to know that our lives as mothers, and all that comes with it, has left us feeling burnt out. Tired. Drained. Because what are we going to do? We still need to go on, and get everything done.
That’s the honest, scary, real truth—motherhood is heavy in responsibility, in fear, in tasks, in worries. But thank goodness this life is also heavy in love, in fulfillment, in joy, in satisfaction.
So dear mama on the brink of burnout, here is what I hope for you—
I hope you realize that when that burned out feeling comes on, it’s an alarm bell telling you to put your own needs first—for once.
I hope you do whatever you need to, to get that rest and rejuvenation you deserve.
I hope you know that it’s OK to ask for help. Specific help, from specific people—even if they don’t volunteer it. Your partner, your parents, your neighbors. Ask them to pitch in in ways that will take some of the load off of you—schedule doctor's appointments, order groceries online, rotate out the too-small kids clothes.
I hope you utilize paid help as much as your budget allows. A babysitter to go on a date with your husband, an occasional cleaning service to help you catch up around the house. (Psst, read more on why a housekeeper is so worth the money.)
I hope you believe in taking a break. A step back. If we give ourselves permission to, we can take a minute to breathe. We are worthy of spending money on ourselves, too—for time to ourselves, to do something fun, to relax.
I hope you make time to move your body. Just like you want your kids to get fresh air and exercise, I hope you prioritize your own physical health, too.
I hope you recognize just how much you are managing. Just how much you are accomplishing day in and day out. So instead of beating yourself up for not being able to tackle your truly impossible to-do list, I hope that you congratulate yourself for the thousand tiny tasks you cross off your “I did it” list—every day.
I hope you are inspired by the rising sun of a new day. Because every day we wake up alive and breathing, we get another try.
There is always a light burning inside of us.
And sometimes it dims a bit. But thank goodness we have the opportunity to recognize that, and work on firing it up again and again. ✨