upset mother with kids

Moms and Mental Health: Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Peace at Home April 18, 2023 | Stephanie Rondeau

It’s no secret that moms often take on the mental load for the whole family, putting the needs of everyone else before themselves. But what is this doing to mothers’ mental health? A staggering 66% of parents surveyed recently by researchers at The Ohio State University say that they are experiencing parental burnout. Not surprisingly, being female is one factor that was strongly associated with experiencing this phenomenon. Stress as a parent is normal and expected. But when daily stresses begin to affect how you function, you may be dealing with something more. 

So how can moms avoid or reduce burnout? There is no easy solution, but there are strategies that make a difference. Consider the following next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed and need to take some time for yourself. 

  • Ditch the guilt. You can take much better care of your family when you’re in good mental and physical health. Taking time for self care is not selfish—it’s necessary in order to give your best self to your family. 
  • Give yourself grace. There is no such thing as a perfect world, and there is no such thing as perfect parenting. There will be days when dinner is late, when activities get missed, or when the morning routine is chaos. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. Striving for perfection causes more stress, leading to increased burnout. 
  • Lean on your village. Remember that you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re not lucky enough to have a network of family and friends nearby to help with childcare, you may be able to find an assistance program through your employer. Consider swapping days with other local parents. The days of everyone having a village seem to be long gone, but check out what’s around and take advantage however you can. 
  • Consider seeking professional help. Parental burnout can lead to behaviors such as increased alcohol abuse, mood changes, and more. You may feel more inclined toward punishment or feel increased irritability, particularly when it comes to your kids. These are signs of unmet needs, not indicators that you’re a bad person! Don’t believe everything you think, especially about yourself and your parenting. Recognize that it’s okay to seek outside help, whether that is from a parenting specialist, a mental health specialist, or someone else. There are some stressors that you can deal with on your own, but it’s important to know when it becomes detrimental to your mental health. Consider seeking help even if it’s simply to ask if you do need help. 

This Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of taking stock of your own emotional health and stress levels. Seek help and/or simply give yourself time to relax and recover. Remember that even if you feel alone, all moms are in this together. If you’re feeling parental burnout, reach out. Keep asking. We are here to help and so are many others too. 

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