If you are reading this mama, I suspect that YOU suspect you’re heading towards burnout. All kinds of exhausted. Worn and weary. At your wits end.
Which, quite frankly isn’t so hard to believe. Raising kids, navigating a relationship, working outside the home, studying, keeping up with the Jones’ and battling the “shoulds” that society hurls at us by way of the media is freakin’ tiring business.
Even if you are managing half that, it’s a big ask. Particularly when there’s no manual.
Burnout is a big deal. The Urban Dictionary defines it as: “A state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress and frustration”.
Motherhood, by its very nature is a “prolonged period”.
The sleep deprivation, constant plot twists in our children’s development, financial stress, health issues, educational decisions, managing of differing values and parenting approaches, external influences and societal expectations… are just the layers of cream on what can result in the enormous, somewhat delicious but bloody overwhelming and eventually nauseating sponge cake of motherhood.
I work with mothers who decide that they are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Often, because us mamas are brilliant at putting our own needs last, it takes a process for a woman to commit to her own desire to thrive and reconnect to her livelihood.
It takes firstly the courage to admit that things are shit and that they could be so much better. Then it is down to the realisation that the knee jerk excuses of “no time” or “too expensive” are really just unconscious expressions of “I’m frightened” and “I’m not worth it”.
I believe that when you are on the brink of burnout in motherhood, it’s your responsibility to own your next steps towards seeking a richer, deeper and more pleasure-filled life. Realising that a significant and positive shift in your energy will bring greater benefits to your family unit is a big calling card for many mums.
If you feel like burnout is in your future, then gorgeous mama, I urge you to ask yourself these 10 questions:
1. Am I aware of what I NEED to feel better?
Here’s the thing. In recent surveys I conducted as well as a 5 day online workshop for I ran for mums, I was reminded that most women have no clue what their needs actually are. They feel low, anxious, unfulfilled, but when they search inside for what they need – from themselves and others – they fall short. I like to work closely with women to identify their core values, which essentially underpin their needs. Once we know the values that act as our inner compass, we can determine what we NEED to live aligned with them, authentically.
2. Am I last in the pecking order?
Do your kids get the freshest food? Does your husband get the night out with his friends? Do you find yourself lacking when everyone else is taken care of? We are well practiced at putting ourselves last. This is not news to most mums. But I suspect that we are also unsure of our personal boundaries. What they are, how to communicate them and how to implement them. If we put ourselves at the bottom of the pile continuously, then we show others what we think we are worth, simple.
3. How was I mothered and what did I learn?
Our experience of being mothered is HUGE when we explore our own mothering style. Some of us will have grown up with mums who were warm, maternal and GAVE, GAVE, GAVE never expecting anything in return. We also saw those mums’ health decline, relationships crumble and purpose in life wither away. On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps some of us experienced a neglectful mother. This is not to say she wasn’t physically “there” as we grew up (maybe she wasn’t), but regardless we never felt heard, understood, nurtured, or even loved. Quite simply, we will either fall into unconsciously replicating our experiences, or veering so far away from them that we overcompensate. Unless of course, we become aware of our patterning and commit to breaking the cycle.
4. Do I communicate with integrity?
This is a big one for both women and men. It is so common that if we are feeling frustrated and misunderstood, if our needs aren’t being met and we are resentful, we turn to destructive forms of communication. Women however, typically fall into passive-aggressive, manipulative and covertly damaging patterns of behaviour. We may have learned it from our parents and it has become reinforced over time, but whatever the case if we are using underhanded communication that isn’t in line with our values and integrity, then we will struggle to find happiness in our relationships. This is a big indicator of potential burnout as we desperately seek to get our needs met.
5. Have I lost touch with what lights me up?
When was the last time you did something that completely lit you up? And I’m talking JUST FOR YOU. Maybe it was a workshop, a hike, a dance class, a girl’s night, or a date night. If you look back fondly at the days you “used” to be able to do the things that lit you up, then mama you’ve got some work to do! I completely and utterly respect those mothers who are committed attachment parents. I personally breast-fed both my children for almost 2 years, co-slept and subscribe to baby-wearing flat out. But I’m sure even Mother Theresa regularly connected to what brought her individual joy!
6. Is self-care a dirty word?
The self-care phenomenon is extremely trendy right now. And rightly so. As a rule, thanks to number’s 1, 3, & 5, many mums think that a bi-annual bath with some nice bath salts is suffice as far as a “self-care” regime. I have a slightly different take on self-care that stems from the appreciation that most mums find it just ANOTHER thing for them to do, and if they don’t do it then they have failed in some way.
I use the terms self-love and self-devotion instead, to describe a way of being as opposed to yet another to-do. Incorporating meaningful rituals, connection to our body, mind and spirit, and pursuing those things that light us up (see #5) regularly are much more effective at supporting us to stay as far from burnout as possible.
7. Have I lost contact with what’s below my neck?
We can get SO caught up in our heads. Many of us are detached from what happens below the neck and work tirelessly to dull the noise in our mind with whatever our preference may be. Food, alcohol, exercise, Netflix, Facebook, these plus more are often our “numb out” methods of choice when we JUST. DON’T. WANT. TO. FEEL. Because let’s face it, feeling can hurt. But guess what? Feelings can also be wonderful, and we miss out on the whole human spectrum of sensation when we numb ourselves to our pain.
8. Am I shut-down to intimacy?
One of the most powerful quotes I heard last year was by Cheryl Richardson, Master Coach. She stated that “If you are shut-down to sex, you are shut-down to your own pleasure”. This hit me hard. So many mums I know and have worked with have struggled with intimacy after having children. I completely get it. Of course when you have a brand new baby, you are touched out and sleep is a thing of the past, sex is the last thing you are interested in. But as time goes on, if regaining a healthy sex-life isn’t on your priority list then you could be doing yourself a massive disservice. Our access to pleasure as women is vast, and if we remain in our headspace, never venturing into the embodied realm, we risk cutting ourselves off from a rich, fulfilling human experience. I wrote about reclaiming my own connection to pleasure here.
9. Am I holding onto past trauma?
If you know that past trauma still dictates your life, then burnout is a very real possibility. Not only does re-living unresolved trauma place incredible burden on our nervous system, resulting in lower immunity, health issues and heightened stress and anxiety, but it will lead us to close ourselves off to potential opportunities and happiness if it is not worked through safely, with adequate guidance and support. Many of us hold the emotional and psychological scars of all kinds of traumatic experiences, ranging from childhood trauma to a traumatic childbirth. Unless we choose to process, heal and reclaim our lives after trauma, it will continue to dictate our quality of life. I recently shared my own journey of healing after miscarriage here.
10. Do I compare myself to others?
Finally, ask yourself whether or not you believe everyone seems to be coping with this motherhood gig better than you. Do you perceive other mums, in real life or on social media, seemingly swanning through life with ease as they raise a tribe, while you struggle to get through the day? Firstly, what you see is NEVER what you get. Secondly, your experience is 100% unique to you and doesn’t say a thing about your worth or how “good” you are as a mum. Each one of us is dealing with a completely different set of circumstances and should be respected as such. Motherhood is tough AF for everyone, often. It is super important to know that you CAN experience a thriving motherhood when you have a level of self-awareness, knowledge, and tools and resources to draw on. But don’t for a minute think that other mums don’t have days when they want to gouge their eyes out.
This list is most certainly not exhaustive, but if you resonate with even some of these points and you suspect you are travelling down burnout road, then mama – your life is in your hands. Break the destructive patterns that keep you small. Show your children an example of a centred, self-respecting, connected woman who knows her worth. Revel in loving yourself with the unrelenting commitment you show your babies.
The Mother & Thrive Academy kicks off for the FIRST time ever this Tuesday, 13th March. It is a program created by a mum, for mums and is designed to support you to thrive in motherhood, instead of merely survive.
In 6 juicy, explorative modules, plus 3 live support calls with me, we will dive into what holds you back, develop new ways of being and create a future for you that chooses PLEASURE, JOY and THRIVING as priority. This program is like nothing else available to mums. It is intimate and personalised and will allow you to hone in on the areas of growth you want to explore further as you navigate motherhood. It will be a platform for you to create major change and if you feel called to join us, then I urge you to apply.
If you want more info, Check out the full Academy outline, prices, bonuses and more on the application process here.
If you would like to chat to me further about whether you might be a good fit for this program, you can book a free 15 minute call with me first.
AS A BONUS EARLY BIRD OFFER, if you join before Wednesday 7th March you will receive a FREE one-on-one session with me, psychotherapist and women’s coach, valued at $150. We will get to the core of what’s going on for you and how to move away from burnout and into a state of thriving as the woman you aspire to be.
See you on the inside!