A common saying among moms is that “there aren’t enough hours in the day.”
That may sound hyperbolic. But, a survey by Campbell’s Well Yes! Sipping Soups found that moms spend almost 100 hours weekly on parenting duties. As a point of comparison, an average employee works 40 hours per week. For mothers, parenting tasks alone take up 100 hours of their time.
How do these moms find the time to do all of this? According to the survey, more than half of the moms sacrifice sleep, date nights, and hobbies to accomplish their tasks.
With 24-hour days, how can moms manage their chaotic schedules if nobody can assist them? How can moms manage those hours better to accomplish things and feel rested? We don’t have to become robots or maximize every moment of our lives. In addition, it isn’t by sacrificing our own well-being for the sake of profit that we work ourselves to the point of burnout.
This then leads to the question: what is the answer? A key component of time management is focusing on what matters to you, whether you’re a working mom, mompreneur, or a stay-at-home mom. As a result, here are some suggestions for better managing your time.
Don’t let urgency overwhelm you.
Having so many tasks to complete, moms tend to default to urgency. There are many things you need to do “now,” such as washing the dishes, responding to an email from a colleague, and ordering your child’s birthday cake.
There are, however, some things that are not urgent.
To unlearn urgency, focus first on putting out fires, followed by other tasks at a reasonable pace. Also, prioritize your to-do list using a strategy like the Eisenhower Matrix to reduce mental clutter. By doing this, you can minimize tension around the “million things you have to do.”
Another tip? You should only put three to four things on your to-do list a day to focus on what’s most important. Americans prefer to put off 14 tasks from their to-do lists, according to the OnePoll study commissioned by H&R Block. That could be due to the sheer number of things on our to-do lists.
Schedule self-care time.
Our kids seem to dominate our world more often than not. There are always school drop-offs, after-school activities, healthy meals, laundry, play dates, and quality time with your partner. With an already busy schedule, where does mom time fit in?
Everyone has a different way of taking care of themselves. The idea, though, is to designate time to relax, unwind, breathe, and recharge for yourself. Here are some simple self-care suggestions:
- Go for a walk in the fresh air.
- Lie in the sun and read a book.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Get in touch with a friend or catch up.
- Take a bath and relax.
- Write in your journal.
- Take up a new hobby.
- Join a yoga or meditation club.
- Visit a spa or get a massage.
- Treat yourself to your favorite snack or meal.
To nourish yourself, you do not need to spend much time or money on self-care.
Taking a social media break is another great way to care for yourself. You will likely be more at peace with yourself if you stop comparing yourself to perfectly curated social media feeds and focus instead on mindfulness and what gives you fulfillment.
When your schedule is packed, what should you do? Self-care should be scheduled into your routine literally. For a mental health break, get up before the kids, relax after they’re in bed, or rely on your partner.
Organize your life with apps.
These days, there is an app for almost everything, and keeping organized is one of them. There are a number of apps that keep all aspects of your life organized right from your phone, including Calendar, Google Calendar, and Todoist. In addition to that, there is Cozi, which is designed specifically for busy mothers and their families.
Get rid of the notebook and replace it with some helpful technology that will certainly help you schedule and manage your time more efficiently.
Get in the habit of saying no and setting boundaries.
As a mom, you cannot do everything. Acknowledging this will help you avoid burnout. Don’t feel guilty about saying no, and be kind to yourself.
Moms benefit from saying no since it means having more time for themselves or accepting time requests they enjoy. Besides setting boundaries, it will allow you to avoid overextending yourself and becoming stressed.
At the same time, it’s not easy to say no, especially when you’re asked for a favor by someone close to you. If you are having trouble saying no or want to improve at it, here are some tips:
- Say no. Avoid vague or unclear language such as “I am not sure.”
- Keep it short and to the point. If you must say no, give a concise reason, and don’t rely on elaborate explanations.
- Tell the truth. It would be a shame to be caught lying later on if you lied or made excuses.
- Be respectful. Be respectful when refusing or saying no. If you want to make someone feel better about asking for a favor, please be kind and use comforting words.
With the help of your partner and children, divide household tasks.
You don’t have to assume all household responsibilities just because you’re a supermom.
Rather than focusing on how you will do it all, talk with your partner and children about how WE will do it.
For example, if you cook dinner, your partner or children should set the table and wash the dishes. When cleaning the house, assign everyone different zones. For example, your kids can clean the playroom while you and your partner tackle the living room.
Keep your promises.
You must prioritize the things that matter to you to keep your promises. In particular, your health and well-being. You can start by following these tips:
Be realistic and start small.
Be careful not to make unrealistic promises to yourself. Don’t be afraid to start small and with something relatively simple. Suppose you haven’t exercised for a while. Don’t promise to exercise for two hours a day. Consider taking your kids for a weekend bike ride or for a 20-minute walk twice a week instead.
The more small promises you keep, the bigger promises you can achieve.
Specificity is key.
Clearly state what you’re promising so you know what you’re getting. Overly vague promises are like overly vague goals — they are designed to fail.
Consider the responsibilities involved in making the promise to yourself, and prepare for the obstacles you might encounter. And, most importantly, set aside time in your calendar for it.
Celebrate your accomplishment when your promise has been fulfilled. Eventually, you will develop positive pathways to counter the negative thoughts you previously had about yourself.
Keep a regular bedtime.
While moms are tempted to stay up late to get some alone time, there is a formal term for it. This is called revenge bedtime procrastination. In order to compensate for lost time during the day, we delay falling asleep.
Even though it’s important to take time for yourself, sacrificing sleep might not be the best option.
Outsource what you can.
Maybe it’s time to put away your supermom cape. Doing everything on your own is not necessary — or even advisable. An award doesn’t go to the mom who burns herself out the fastest after doing the most things. Let me remind you that you have nothing to prove to anyone else.
With that said, to free up time, you should not be afraid of relinquishing control and outsourcing daily tasks.
The following are some examples of time-consuming tasks you can outsource:
- House cleaning
- Grocery shopping
- Money management
- Home repairs
- Scheduling employees or meetings
- Walking your dog
Based on the OnePoll study previously mentioned, 48 percent of respondents put off cleaning their homes and 27 percent made time for doctor’s appointments. In addition to removing these tasks from your list, outsourcing can reduce your mental load as well.
The expense may require some sacrifice on your part, such as giving up impulsive online shopping or a few Starbucks coffees. You can also ask your friends and family for help every now and then or find a student who is looking to earn extra cash. Consider asking for outsourcing services as a gift on your birthday or during the holidays.
One last point for all you perfectionist moms out there. When you outsource, you might not get exactly what you want. This is sometimes the price of allowing others to help you, and perfection isn’t a real thing to strive for. Taking a break from control is a good thing for your physical and mental health.
Ask for help.
I cannot emphasize this enough. In times of need, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help. You can hire a cleaner or babysitter or even split household chores and child care with your partner if you can. After all, even Wonder Woman needs the assistance of the Justice League from time to time.
Conversely, if you find that you are too busy, ask your boss or colleagues for help, or get advice on how to improve your efficiency.
You can also seek help through a support group, by speaking with caring and empathetic friends, or by making new mom friends. You should surround yourself with supportive people and avoid negative people.
Be realistic with your expectations.
Our goal is to provide the best possible care for our families. However, sometimes it is unnecessary and puts too much pressure on us.
The best isn’t always the best for our kids. As such, don’t go all out for everything, just the most important things, such as their birthday.
Make time for your significant other.
Mom burnout can also be managed by making specific time for your significant other. After all, when kids and chores seem overwhelming, quality time with your partner is just as meaningful as spending time alone.
After the kids have gone to bed, set aside an evening to unplug together if you can’t leave the house. Consider putting your screens away and delaying household chores so you can focus on each other.
Overall, make the most of your limited time, even if you can only carve out a few moments each day!
Try online therapy or seek professional help.
By talking to a psychologist or therapist, you can learn how to manage your emotions.
A mental health professional can also give you tips and tools for coping with life’s daily stresses or dealing with mom burnout. You may find this particularly helpful if you suffer from anxiety or depression as well.
Online therapy is available if you’re too busy to schedule an in-person appointment. Rather than having to travel for mental health consultations, you can talk to a mental health professional from the comfort of your home.
In addition to being more convenient, online therapy can be done via video chat, messaging apps, or a combination of both.
What is mom burnout?
In an interview with Today, Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, author of “Mommy Burnout”, said, “Mommy burnout is the emotional and physical exhaustion that you feel from the chronic stress of parenting.”
In addition, “No matter how much sleep you get, you’re always tired. And you resent your kids sometimes, which is a tough one. You feel a reduced sense of personal accomplishment — it’s a fancy way of feeling like you’re never doing a good job. The prolonged nature to it, like there’s no end in sight.”
What are the signs and symptoms of working mom burnout?
- It would be impossible for you to accomplish tasks and fulfill commitments.
- Getting irritated by people or things.
- Exhaustion, both physically and mentally.
- Insomnia or not getting enough sleep.
- You no longer enjoy doing things you used to enjoy.
- The lack of control over your life may leave you feeling demotivated.
- Inability to maintain a work-life balance.
What causes mothers to burn out?
A variety of factors can cause burnout. The problem is usually caused by a combination of factors piled on top of one another. There is a possibility that we are always “on.” Many times, we watch the kids during the day and during the night when they need something. Despite taking turns well with our partners, we may still put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. As parents, we may want to be everything to our children, but it isn’t possible.
Other factors may include a lack of support, taking on too many work responsibilities, having a cluttered family calendar, and an inability to take care of oneself. In addition, you might not ask for help when you need it or take breaks when you need them.
How do you know when to seek professional assistance?
Are you suffering from burnout? Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or disconnected from it? A professional may be able to assist you if you cannot handle the burnout on your own. You should consider getting therapy if you have been experiencing low moods, despair, or demotivation for an extended period of time.
It is not just you who will suffer from stress and anxiety if you ignore the signs, but everyone around you, including your children as well. After all, children are directly affected by your mental health. The longer you leave your mental health unattended, the worsening it will be
Mom burnout can be treated with therapies like Acceptance and Commitment therapy. You will learn stress management techniques that will enable you to build self-compassion.
Image Credit: Tatiana Syrikova; Pexels; Thank you!