The Work of Motherhood: Avoiding Burnout

Motherhood, Parenting

Being a mother is a beautiful, fulfilling and amazing role, but it’s also hard work. It’s a job that requires an emotional and physical toll like no other. Read on for encouragement for moms who are trying their best!

Being a mother is a beautiful, fulfilling and amazing role, but it's also hard work. It's a job that requires an emotional and physical toll like no other. Read on for encouragement for moms who are trying their best!

The role of a mother is kind of a big deal, right? It involves birthing or adopting or caring for another human being, and often more than one! It includes the physical care of these little humans, watching over their emotional well-being and training their minds to get a great education. It’s a lot of hard work, but most of us are thrilled to take on the role!

I realized the other day that when I hear of an older woman having raised two or four or even ten children, I used to think of it as just another blip on her resume, as just another box she checked off during her life’s path. But now that I’ve been a mom for almost 14 years, I know intimately of the minutes and hours and days and months and years of hard work that “raising kids” entails.

I know about the worry, anxiety, sleeplessness, exhaustion, frustration, overwhelm and joy that are involved in mothering children and that it lasts for decades (from what I hear, some of that work lasts until you’re dead!). It takes a toll on our bodies, our minds, our hearts and so much of it is good and wonderful! But so much of it is also invisible, lonely, painful and so very difficult.

It occurred to me recently that motherhood is a job. A real life, honest to goodness profession that requires lots and lots of blood, sweat and tears. Yes, it’s also a role that we gladly take on for the rest of our lives, but I think that this distinction is important.

When we understand that motherhood is a job, we can begin to see how it affects us. I believe that we can (and should) analyze our approach to motherhood to see if we need to make changes in order to better enjoy this role and our children.

It’s not always easy, but I’ve got FOUR ways to do it!

1.Realize that you are more than a mother. I think we can all agree that being a mom is like, huge, right? It changes us in so many ways and is life-altering. BUT, you had an identity before you became a mom and you’ll have an identity after they all move out. In fact, (prepare for a shock) you are STILL that person right now.

Yes, even right now when your hair is a hot mess and there’s crap all over living room floor; YOU are still the funny, creative, wild and ambitious person that you were before the kids showed up. You might not always feel that way (newborn infants and surly teens especially have a way of sucking the fun out of you) but you’re still YOU! Don’t ever forget that. Commit now to making time to do things that remind you of who you really are. (I have a free e-course that will help you do just this! You can sign up here.)

2. Take time off. Yeah, I KNOW this is easier said than done. But if you had a friend who spent 24/7 at her job, worshiped her employees and wiped their behinds, you’d be worried – right? Of course I jest, but never taking a break from our children can be really detrimental: to our mental health, our marriages and our sense of self-worth. If you regularly get time away from your kids already (i.e. they’re all in school or you work out of the home full time) you might need less “time off” than some moms, but we all need it. Do yourself a favor and schedule it!

Being a mother is a beautiful, fulfilling and amazing role, but it's also hard work. It's a job that requires an emotional and physical toll like no other. Read on for encouragement for moms who are trying their best!

3. Recognize that it’s OK to dislike parts of the job. I talk a lot about this concept in this post about wanting to quit being a mom. The fact is, kids are often sassy, dinner sometimes burns and we occasionally wonder why we even chose this life. You are NOT a bad person for thinking this. It’s a JOB. And a hard one.

But that being said, you also never need to apologize for LOVING this job. There are days that are so full of joy and feeling fulfilled that we can hardly believe it. Don’t ever downplay this role simply because the people around you don’t understand it. It’s ok to feel all kinds of emotions as a mom. Every single one is valid!

4. You should be compensated for your work. No, I don’t mean monetarily (unless you can pull that off somehow, then DO IT!), but you should feel validated and rewarded for your job as a mom. This might mean that you and your husband work out a special budget you can blow however you see fit, or it might mean you schedule something special for yourself on a regular basis (think pedicure or a night out with your sister), or maybe you and your neighbor just tell each other what a freaking great job each other is doing. But it’s important!

The world out there is obsessed with money, it seems, which may be why it’s hard for many SAHM’s to see the value of their work. If it doesn’t yield cold, hard cash, it must not be worthwhile, right? WRONG. Feeling like our work is valuable is probably the number one solution to ensuring that we don’t experience burnout. Motherhood is not a part-time gig nor is it one without lasting consequences; proper self-care is what will get you through the hard times!

I know your struggles, mamas. I SEE YOU. Generations will honor and thank you for your work. Hang in there, and look for the promotions! This is the best job there is.

Photos by Photography Hill

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