Preventing and Addressing Burnout in Motherhood


Most moms have experienced burnout – estimates say 68% of working moms and 55% of stay-at-home moms have felt they are moving towards, or full-on experiencing, burnout. These numbers are deeply concerning. As a working mom myself, I have experienced several seasons where I felt as though I was on the brink. And at least one period where I became utterly burned out. While I certainly wish our society was better structured to support all moms (that’s an article for another day), this is a moment where we need to look within and to each other to address and work towards preventing burnout before it happens. To be clear, preventing burnout in motherhood is not easy. Healing it is even harder. It requires a sustained level of intentionality that is hard to keep up with. Still, there are methods that will help, and we deserve to feel well. Let’s consider them.

First, Educate Yourself on Burnout

In 2019 just after I had my first daughter, I read Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. It was one of those books that felt like looking in the mirror and ultimately transformed the way I began to think about addressing burnout risk for myself. I believe that knowledge is power, so the more we know about burnout and the science behind it, the better equipped we are to prevent it. Burnout has many definitions but is often thought of as having three core parts: utter mental/physical exhaustion, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and depersonalization/disconnection.

Consider Your Current Coping Strategies

When we want to address burnout in motherhood, it is helpful to begin by identifying our current coping strategies. When we name them, we can tame them. While honest self-reflection can be uncomfortable, it is a really important place to start. For many, dealing with stress – which is the precursor to burnout – leads to not-so-great coping strategies. A really good way to re-frame coping is to consider it as making the moment tolerable. We need to give ourselves grace when we engage in coping behaviors so that we do not begin to experience shame. Make a list of how you currently cope with stress – we’ll come back to this in a moment.

Prioritizing Self-Care

One of the core symptoms of burnout in motherhood is exhaustion. I like to think about self-care as an opportunity to replenish yourself. When you look through your list of coping strategies, write out a self-care-focused idea that would combat your stress in a healthier way. Some self-care ideas include:

  • Move Your Body: Go on a walk outside, take a yoga or other fitness class, play freeze tag with your kids, and/or do yard work. One of the evidence-based antidotes to burnout and stress is intense physical exercise. Start small, but aim to work up a sweat consistently to help reduce the stress in your body.
  • Rest Your Mind: Get a full night’s sleep. Choose a novel over scrolling, meditate, journal, write about your feelings, and/or spend time doing “nothing”. Give yourself time to rest your brain and your spirit.
  • Prioritize Play: Put your phone away and really play with your kids. Do a puzzle, play a board game, watch something that will make you belly laugh, and/or engage in something you loved to do as a kid.

Turn To Community

While our society is built for us to go through life as individuals, we need to turn towards each other. It can be hard to find community, and it requires you to go outside of your comfort zone. Still, there are resources that exist. Join an upcoming Central Mass Mom event! Sign up for a group with Supported Mom Initiative, come to a MamaConnect gathering (if you’re local to Shrewsbury), or go on a walk with The Mom Walk Worcester. Introduce yourself to a fellow mom when you’re out at the playground.

One of the things I am always reminded of when I am facilitating conversations with groups of moms is that we are all looking for community. And when you’re in spaces where you can connect deeply, you are reminded that you are never alone in all of your feelings about motherhood – the complex, the hard, the nuanced, and the joyful.

Sometimes, Create Major Change

To address and prevent burnout in motherhood, we need to look at the root cause. This is best done in partnership with a therapist, trained coach, or trusted friend. If you realize that your life is not where you want it to be and burnout is present or coming, a major change might be in order. Maybe your job is making you utterly miserable and draining you, it may be time to look for a new one. If your household chores feel never-ending, it may be time to enact the Fair Play method. If you are suffering from mental health issues, it may be time to connect with a therapist to begin the healing journey. Maybe work/life balance seems impossible, it may be time to create new boundaries. Know that you deserve to feel support and supported, and turn to others for help. We’ve got you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.