As stay-at-home moms, we’re supposed to be superstars but stay-at-home mom burnout is all over. The truth is, we all struggle.
When my third son was about 2 ½, I came into a bad place as a mom. For months, I was living in a dark gloom of depression. I was living my dream life of being a mom and yet, here I was in such a bad place that I was considering abandoning my kids. I couldn’t physically push forward one more day. I had nothing left. I was at my breaking point and I knew that I was nearing a psychotic break.
I felt like I didn’t want to be a mom anymore.
And, yes, these are all horrific thoughts but I know there are other moms out there that might be in this same boat, and so I want to share my story.
I am a thriving mom now, living my dream and wish I could have even more kids. So, how did I avoid that psychotic break? I prayed.
I have seen far more stay-at-home moms burnout and abandon their families through the years than I have seen working moms. I think it’s because they see no value in what they’re doing. When the world tells you that you’re lazy and not contributing to society and you have a husband that thinks you sit on the couch and eat bonbons all day, well, then it’s easy to believe that lie. Satan is there, daily whispering into your ear because he wants nothing more than for you to give up.
Burnout on anything causes you to give up. Since my near nervous breakdown, I have taken great care to ensure I don’t reach that point again. Here are some of the things I do as a stay-at-home mom to prevent burnout.
When I got to that point of depression, I had no idea what was going on. I was taking time to myself, hanging out with friends, being in the word daily…I was doing everything “right” so why did I not want to be a mom anymore?
I decided to pray. I knew God could see what was going on so, I asked Him to rescue me and to show me why I felt like this.
A couple of days later, my mom randomly called me up on the phone (she had no idea how I was feeling because I was good at hiding it from everyone) and said, “Hey, I have never gotten to spend alone time with C. I want to take him for a while so I can get to know him away from his brothers”.
C spent about 5 days with Nannie and Papa and during that time, something crazy started happening. I started feeling alive again. That dark cloud started to dissipate and I started feeling joy as a mom. Even after I got him back, I continued feeling revived.
You see, my 3rd son was the most difficult child I have ever had or even seen. I hate to say this but he was kind of awful. When I was at that moment, I didn’t know that he was the reason I had gotten to my breaking point. But, God knew…and He sent me exactly what I needed. When I prayed, He listened and He helped me. He gave me the space I needed to recharge my batteries so I could really be the mama C needed because as we both know, every child is different. They all need something different from us and I needed the space to figure out how to be C’s mama in the best way possible.
If you feel like you’re on the doorstep, ready to cross the threshold into a nervous breakdown, let God revive you. He knows exactly what you need to bring you back from the brink. When the world tells you to do more self-care and drink more wine and take more baths, turn to Him.
“In my distress, I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
You see, God wants to see you thrive as a mom. He knows how important your job is, far beyond what you can even fathom. He doesn’t take joy in seeing you struggle. He wants to help you out. He wants to pick you up and carry you. All you have to do is turn to Him and be willing.
The trick is to get ahead of the burnout so that it doesn’t even have a chance. For me, the earliest sign that I am not doing well is that I find myself so irritable that the word “mom” raises my blood pressure. I find myself short with everyone and ready to lose it if one more kid starts to whine. This is usually when I text my husband, “Hey, I’m gonna need a break here in the next few days”.
The second stage of this if I neglect those early signs is that I find myself hiding in the bathroom. Most of the time, this is accompanied by crying on the toilet. This is usually when I cancel any plans I have and send out the S.O.S. to my husband. He works to ensure I get some time to myself as soon as possible.
If you don’t have this kind of support, then pray! God will help you and will provide you with the support you need. Again, He wants to see you thrive and to learn to completely rely on Him.
This is the most important thing you can do daily. Starting your day with getting in the Word will change your life. This is something I try to drive home to all moms because there was a time I was trying to do this whole mom thing without first getting in the word. It’s impossible to take care of others if you don’t first fill your spiritual tank.
And, it doesn’t even have to be quiet! In the season I am in right now, my quiet time is generally spent on the couch, holding my 2-year old while she watches “baby shark doo-doo-doo” and I awkwardly try to hold my bible in a way that allows me to read it while not blocking her view of her precious Baby Shark.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I think too often we wait for the perfect moment but God just wants our willingness.
I am a hardcore introvert. I love spending time with me. Lately, I have been daydreaming about going on a Hawaiian vacation with me! About once a week, I go spend some time by myself, which usually includes a trip to Target, where I walk through all the clearance end caps and space off.
I need my time to think. This is usually also when I hear from God the most, in those quiet moments. He encourages me or gives me revelations about things I’ve been thinking about (usually what I read that morning in my bible).
If you’re an extrovert then call up a friend and go have coffee or lunch. Or, better yet, plan a craft night and surround yourself with lots of people. The point is that you do what energizes your physical body.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Good friends are rare treasures that you should cling to. I have a friend whom I refer to as my sunshine. It doesn’t matter if she comes over to complain about stuff or tell me about her current struggles, my soul always feels rejuvenated after she leaves.
I have another friend who I know will drop everything and pray for me right then and there if I ask her to.
Do you have these kinds of friends in your life? Ones who push you closer to Christ? Like it or not, you become like the people you surround yourself with.
There was a time when my friends weren’t very good for me. I was not a very good wife and mom when I was around them. But, thankfully, God drew me out of that life and placed me in a new town, right amid some amazing women who are now some of my closest friends.
For some of you, this might be a dirty word. I honestly don’t know how moms can “mom” without exercise. It only takes me about a week and a half of no cardio before I start to feel anxiety and depression knocking.
At least 30 minutes of cardio a day pumps your body full of fighter cells, which helps boost your immune system and helps you to fight off all those kid germs. It’s also the #1 way to ward off depression since it releases so many of those hormones that are responsible for feelings of happiness and it helps to restore balance in your gut (poor gut health is the root cause of depression for many).
Exercise also pump you full of energy and helps you to focus. If you go to the gym, it also provides a break from your routine and the kids. And, if you’re like me and go to group fitness classes, it also provides a way to see your friends every day!
We have to be willing to ask for help when we need it and not be afraid to turn to God. Being a mom is hard. We both know that. It’s probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done because once you become a mom, you’re a mom for life. You can’t turn your brain or feelings off but you can get support. Lean on Him to find a support system that works for you so you can continue to be the mom you can be for the children God blessed you with.
Your marriage is the hardest ministry you will ever serve in. If you embrace this calling, I promise this ministry will change you.