We’ve all read the stats about moms leaving the workforce in records numbers during the pandemic. But most working moms, aside from the pandemic, can relate to feeling burned out at times (or all the time), by work, responsibilities at home, and the simultaneous push and pull of both. Working from home has only intensified that tug of war between the office and family. So what are the signs of burnout—and how can you fix burnout if you’re dealing with it? We spoke to Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D., LPC and founder of Work Like a Mother, a consulting firm focused on helping women thrive in the workforce, about this important topic for so many moms.
What are some common signs of working mom burnout?
Job burnout for working moms can show up in many ways, including:
- Poor performance at work
- Irritability with co-workers
- Disengagement from the job
- Lack of energy
- Feeling “shut down”
- Brain fog
- Isolation and being reclusive
- Not sleeping well
- Disengaged from friends and family
What are the most common reasons for job burnout, that you see in moms?
There are impossible expectations of working mothers, with none of the real support structures that are essential. Burnout and loss of self is inevitable without intentional work design and life design strategies to support women to work to their potential while honoring her role as a mother. I can’t even use the word balance here because that is just not what mothers feel. They often feel that they are not particularly succeeding in either role when in truth the expectations and responsibilities today after COVID are almost insurmountable. The impact of COVID on children has left mothers to care for and support children who now are struggling with their own mental health challenges – adding therapist to the list of roles for a working mom is simply not sustainable. Working mothers burn out for good reason.
What are some ways you suggest moms deal with job burnout (aside from leaving their job)?
- Evaluate your mission and purpose for work and life and the impact you want to have. Is your job enabling you to do meaningful work?
- What makes your heart sing? What can you add to your life to bring joy to fuel you in other dimensions of your life?
- Create a realistic flexible work schedule; if you ask for it you may get it.
- Arrange for help and support for you at home during worktime with domestic responsibilities.
- Ask for help and advice when needed. Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling. The most resilient people know how to ask for help. Just having loved ones witness your pain is healing and talking things through can offer perspective and more rational less emotional thinking.
- Prioritize Self Care, Self-Compassion and Mindfulness (Take time for yourself, journal, make gratitude lists, use meditation apps, get massages, etc.)
- Realize you have choices for how you talk to yourself about your circumstances – find positive messages to say to yourself about what is working for you in spite of feeling burnout and consider solutions (including leaving).
- Actively caring for your body and health with exercise that fuels you.
- Strive to grow in your job by learning a new skill.
- Take a creative class for self-expression and fun.
- Minimize contact with toxic people, toxic family members, toxic friends and mostly toxic thinking – learn to restructure your negative thoughts to optimistic thinking.