How do you know if you’re on the verge of burnout? What are the signs, and how do you make adjustments to fix things? Read about MOMMY BURNOUT below!
The 5 Stages of Burnout
According to Procaccini and Kiefaber, from Dobson’s book Parenting isn’t for Cowards, parental burnout has five progressive stages:
1. The ‘Gung-Ho’ Stage
‘Compulsive moms’ feel the need to do everything themselves; are hesitant to leave the kids with anyone, EVER, and get almost fixated on child-rearing, immersed in it 24/7, 365 days of the year to the point of it being unhealthy for her, and her family
Things to evaluate: How can I introduce a hobby into my life? Even if only done once a month? Are my husband and I on the same page with regards to how much time I spend with the kids, and my reasons why? – does he feel the kids are all consuming, leaving no time or energy left for him? How can I manage my priorities so that I put my husband before the kids?
2. The ‘Doubt’ Stage
Here, moms who have been a bit ‘compulsive’, pouring all their time and energy into raising their children in as perfect a way as they can, day in and day out, without every taking breaks to replenish energy spent doing all of this, become exhausted, irritable, prone to yelling occasionally.
Things to evaluate: How can I get more sleep? Can I outsource my son(s) for a few hours a week to a family member, au pair, or close friend and get some me-time? Am I taking on too much in my life at the moment? Is there anything I can postpone so that I am not so ‘thinly spread’?
3. The ‘Transition’ Stage
Called this, because decisions are usually made here that will determine the family’s well being for years ahead. Moms in this stage may feel exhaustion, self-condemnation, anger and resentment, sometimes blaming the kids for their discontent. What was supposed to be an idealistic parenting situation when the kids were born, has turned into an exhausting, depressing loop.
Things to evaluate: How can I change some things in my life, based on the previous two stages’ questions? How can I put more energy into my day, so that I am not pouring out more than I’m getting in? Can I get anyone to help me with any area? How? What changes can I make in my current situation that will pull me up out of where I am mentally, as opposed to making things worse in time?
4. The ‘Pulling Away’ Stage
If something(s) are not changed, the above transition phase is where a mom can get worse – a human mind will cope with a situation as mentioned above, in certain ways; it can only tolerate so much agitation. In this phase/stage, a parent or mom will pull away from her family, become ‘deaf’ to the kids pulling at her skirt, or the baby crying; she may resort to alcoholism or drugs to cope. She may overreact violently and punish wildly, and may have feelings of anger and guilt as she has moments where she feels she’d like to ‘hit’ the kids, or worse. She pulls away from family and friends, and is exhausted on every level.
Things to evaluate: Do I feel like ever hurting my kids in anger or blind rage? Do I feel like withdrawing from people in my life? Do I revert to alcohol or drugs of any kind to numb my senses, in order to cope or block out feelings?
5. The Final Stage
Procaccini and Kiefaber call this stage the ‘chronic disenchantment’ stage, characterised by confusion and apathy. Here, a mom is so burnt out she loses all meaning and purpose to life. Her identity is blurred. Weeks can go by with nothing of significance being remembered, and she may have recurring suicidal thoughts, or of ‘cracking up’ or running away.
Things to evaluate: Where can I get counselling? How can I take very practical steps in my life and routine, as mentioned in the first four stages, so that I can get back to a healthy state for my family?
These stages are hectic, yet close to home. You may be surprised at how many moms out there, some you know, that is in the last two stages. It can happen relatively easily too; pouring out energy and not having or making time for ourselves can happen all too easily, and nothing in our lifestyle works in our energy’s favour. It takes planning and purpose to work out how to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy and happy so that we can be the best we can be, and create great environments for our sons to live in.
If you feel that you are in any stage of burnout, know you are not alone! You can get out of it! Be encouraged. Knowing that there are actual ‘stages’ as opposed to it all feeling like a guilty, exhausting blur, is great in a way. You can get out. Speak with your husband, be a team that helps you ‘out’ together. Pray about it. Do the steps you know will help YOU.