Our children are watching everything we do. That may be comforting or slightly terrifying. Either way, it’s true. During pregnancy, we are so focused on our own health and well-being and we know how directly tied that is to the health and well-being of that baby we are growing inside of us. Once that child is born, we often change our focus to making sure we give that baby everything she needs, often at a cost to ourselves.
Mom Burnout Is Real
The idea that mom’s cup has to be full in order for her to keep everyone else’s cup full sounds really good in theory but is much harder to actually practice. Early on, by the pure nature of how our bodies are designed, moms are the primary caretaker. Our bodies provide nourishment, comfort, and security. Our babies have an innate connection with us that they don’t have with anyone else by virtue of the time they spent growing inside of us. Often many moms relish that status and would simply prefer to remain the primary source of not only the above, but everything else too.
Culturally, Black women have long been in the position to be a source of security and strength for those around us, and asking for help has been seen as a weakness. We have become accustomed to taking it all on our shoulders, even when there are others who could help support us. Mom Martyrdom, when mom does everything for everyone else, doesn’t serve anyone. It not only leads to moms burning out but can lead to resentment, and frustration and ultimately does a disservice to the children, partners, and family who mom takes care of.
So how do you avoid mom burnout? We have some ideas.
Regardless of the support you have, you may find yourself cooking, cleaning, and feeding (the baby and those around you). Are your family, friends or partner getting to enjoy the stroller walks, snuggly sleeping-baby-in-arms naps, and tummy time photo shoots while you are doing all of the less desirable (and less photo-friendly) work? If you’re not great at delegating, now is the time to improve!
Learn to delegate the tasks you don’t need (or want) to do. As a mom, there are so many things that you have to do – some you may greatly enjoy and others not so much – but starting to share tasks will not only relieve you of stress, allow you to enjoy this time and diminish your own resentment but also allow those around you to contribute more.
We’ve said it before and will say it again, pregnancy changes you. You may feel like what you focused on or who you spent time with before starting this journey no longer serves you. You may feel like the events you attended or social media accounts you followed now no longer benefit you and aren’t worth your time. Listen to your instincts and follow your gut. No one expects you to remain the same after becoming a mom and one quick way to burn out is to keep doing things for others that no longer serve you.
Creating boundaries around who you spend time with and what you spend your energy on will help you stay focused on what matters to you most now. It will also release you of the stress, anxiety, and guilt that comes with being and doing for others when it no longer meets your needs.
Self Care Is Not A Luxury
Speaking of boundaries – establishing some is one way to provide some much-needed self-care. (Self-care doesn’t always have to cost money or be visible.) Honoring what you need and want and spending time dedicated to it is hugely important and a much-overlooked way to give back to yourself.
Self-care, whether it’s a workout, a walk, a board game with your child, a massage, or a zoom with a girlfriend, will provide balance and having balance is the best way to avoid burning out. Don’t allow your time to be the first thing you compromise. Schedule time for yourself as you would a work meeting or child’s doctor’s appointment and stick to it. Your needs are as important as those around you and you will be better for them when you feel like you are good to yourself.
Ask For Help
Finally, just ask for what you need. It’s a great habit to get into now and once you start, you’ll see how easy it is to keep it up. Whether it’s calling a friend to come to watch the baby so you can nap, asking your mom to come to cook so you don’t have to, or asking your partner to sleep in another room so you can sleep without the sound of snoring – asking for what you need is empowering and important.
And if you are struggling with your emotions around managing this new normal, ask for professional support as well. No one ever said this would be easy or smooth and there is no way we go through pregnancy and motherhood without feeling the emotional weight of it all at some point. The more we honor our feelings and the range of emotions we are experiencing at this time, the better we show up for ourselves and those around us, and the more likely we are to honor those emotions moving forward.
As we said, those children are watching our every move and if we show them that we can burn ourselves out doing for others and neglect our own needs, then that is what they will learn and teach their own children. We must model taking care of ourselves – just as much for their sake as for ours.
Our goal at Mae is to provide the support and resources for you that we would’ve loved to have when we started this journey. We are here to provide community, resources, information, and experts to help make this the most fulfilling experience it can be. Join us at MeetMae.com to learn more and be part of our village.