Long before COVID was part of our lives, many moms were feeling overwhelmed and that has only become more intense over the last year and a half, according to parenting expert Erika Sóuter. Sure, dads have had a trying year as well, but research shows that moms have picked up nearly three times as many child care hours during the pandemic. So it’s no wonder more than 100 mothers Sóuter has met with tell her that parenting feels more exhausting, expensive and stressful than ever.
Luckily, there are things we can do to better deal with “mommy burnout.” And the first step is figuring out what you need to relieve your stress and anxiety. “It may feel counterintuitive to focus on your needs right now,” Sóuter explains, “but there is no grand prize for being the mommy martyr who never does anything for herself.”
In fact, feeling nurtured and supported will help you be the parent you want to be and these changes can help ease stress and burnout:
- Create a supportive network- Staying connected to the people you can lean on is crucial. Just spending 10 minutes a day talking to someone who doesn’t live in your house can help save your sanity. And chances are, your friends will also want and need the same thing because they’re feeling flustered and overwhelmed, too.
- Something just for you- Make consistent time for things that create a sense of calm. It can be as little as 15 minutes of yoga, exercise or even your favorite reality T.V. show. Just find something that feeds you and makes you feel something other than stress and anxiety.
- All hands on deck- Get your kids to take on more responsibility around the house. They might not do it perfectly, but kids as young as four can help with vacuuming, dinner prep and putting away laundry.
- Be honest with yourself and your kids- Set realistic expectations about the school year and talk about the “what ifs” that may come up.
- Fears about safety- If having your kids wear a mask to school or not having unvaccinated guests in your house gives you peace of mind, Sóuter says they should be non-negotiable and you should stick with them no matter what your friends, family or neighbors say.