In today’s age, it is not uncommon for the role of “Mom” to be a mom in a marriage, a single mom or a single dad acting as both parents. Whichever the case, “Being a mom is hard” almost seems like a redundant statement. Many moms tend to think that “if they had it all together” it would be easy. News Flash! No, parenting is difficult regardless.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, raising children is hard. There are going to be challenges, time management issues, difficult emotions to handle, and a need for support and self-care. Self-care is essential to avoid burnout. One method of self-care that has multitudes of benefits is a massage. Researchers explain why moms need to get massages regularly.
Recognizing signs of parenting burnout
Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, getting burned out is a real job hazard. It can affect you, your job, your children, and your significant other. One study based in Belgium demonstrated that 13-14% of parents reach some stage of burnout. A poll conducted in 2018 showed that out of 2000 parents from the United States and Canada, 60% had experienced burnout.
In both of the studies, pressures from work, society, finances, and the feeling they needed to be perfect in everything they do contribute to the burnout. These pressures also led to eliminating self-care from their life.
Each situation can be a little different in the emotions felt and the effects it has. Another study published in 2019 demonstrated that burnout contributed to a desire to distance oneself from their child or escape ideation, child neglect, and violence. This study is leading the push for corporations and parents to take burnout more seriously. Also, society as a whole is putting further emphasis on self-care and changing the expectations towards parenting roles.
It is crucial to be able to recognize the symptoms in yourself, your partner, and in other parents.
- Extreme and overwhelming exhaustion
- Emotionally distancing yourself from the child(ren)
- Feeling like a “bad” parent; worthless, ineffective, lacking,
- Intense, sometimes paralyzing, guilt
- Depression and anxiety
- Emotional outburst unrelated to circumstances
- Neglecting the child(ren)
- Abusive behavior toward the child(ren)
- You question your life, your goals, your choices, your ability, your purpose.
- Difficulty focusing at work, unable to perform tasks as you should
- Dreaming of getting away from the home if you are a stay-at-home parent
How can you avoid burnout?
Burnout is not inevitable for moms or parents. Some steps can be taken to avoid it. The first giant step is in your mindset related to two big subjects; expectation and self-care.
Addressing expectation related to parenting
One of the most significant factors contributing to burnout was related to how moms or parents feel they have to be perfect at everything. Is that even possible? Not for anyone – parent or not. Give up on that fantasy. Society needs to throw that idea out the window and stop having those expectations toward parents. On the other hand, parents need to be willing to show and talk about how they aren’t perfect.
Their house is a mess, laundry is still in the dryer or the hamper, and that cooking just didn’t happen today, so they swung by McDonald’s. The expectation of this perfect image works both ways. Moms and parents need to be honest about their life so that other parents know they aren’t alone, and society can change to reflect it properly rather than holding onto an antiquated idea.
Ridding ourselves of these impossible standards can also help rid us of the feelings of guilt. Guilt has a nasty effect on the human psyche. It tends to make us resentful, defensive, overreactive, overly emotional, and able to be manipulated. In some cases, it is paralyzing. None of these are healthy emotional and mental states to have while being a mom or a parent.
Addressing self-care related to life
I recognize that after just writing a brief paragraph regarding lessening our expectations, and then to follow it up with “do this” seems like a slap in the face. You might be thinking, “Oh great, don’t do laundry but do self-care. Just a different line on the to-do list”. Humor me and read this through first, and I promise it will be worth it.
I recently saw a video on self-care on Facebook. It paralleled self-care in regard to when you’re told to put the oxygen mask on yourself first when you are on an airplane and the masks dropdown. A mother’s or parent’s instinct is usually to protect the child first. It seems like the wrong thing to do. Your child is relying on you to protect them and care for them. However, that is something you can’t do if you are unconscious, or worse because you didn’t take care of yourself. It really is that simple and applies to our daily lives.
We all know the repercussions of lack of sleep, not eating right, and chronic stress on our health. Yet that becomes the staple of the mom diet if you don’t take control and make a choice to make yourself a priority. It doesn’t only put your health at risk. It will take you longer to make sound decisions, slow your reflexes, decrease your ability to focus and concentrate, handle stress, and impair memory. Those are all abilities that are essential to being able to parent effectively. It is counter-productive to being a parent to not take care of yourself.
Don’t feel guilty about putting your needs first.
Don’t worry, you are not neglecting your children.
- You are showing them that self-care is essential and that you are important.
- You are showing them good habits for their health and healthy coping strategies
- Additionally, you are teaching them that you are a person with your own dreams and how to obtain them.
- You are ensuring you can spend quality time with your children later in the day without being exhausted or overly reactive.
- Finally, you are ensuring you will be alert and calm to drive them to their destinations
You are not neglecting you.
- You are ensuring you have the right state of mind to effectively get tasks done in less time because you are rested, can sustain your energy, or did something to de-stress.
- Just as importantly, you are enforcing priorities. Dirty underwear is not more important than you are. Not to yourself, your partner, and certainly not your children.
Methods of self-care
Self-care takes on many forms. It can range from therapy, taking time to journal, going to the gym, meeting a friend for coffee or lunch, going on a date with your partner, or taking a walk. The important part is to schedule it and stick to it. Teach your children that at this time, mom is going to do “this.” At first, it may take some time as the children need to learn, but it is possible.
You may need to recruit your partner to fill in or ask a friend, family member, or a babysitter to watch the kids. Maybe just sit your kids in the living room to play or watch TV while you are in your bedroom with the door shut or outdoors. The point is that it can be done. Once you have made it as much of a priority as your children are, you can do it.
We all know that we carry stress in our bodies. We feel it in the tightness of our neck, shoulders, or back. At times, we notice the change in our digestion and metabolism, sleep and mood change. These are all signs of stress. Getting a massage not only helps to release that stress from our bodies, which in turn releases the tension from our minds.
- Aids in reducing anxiety
- Decreases incidences of headaches
- Reduces muscle tension, soreness or strains
- Helps with digestion
- Helps with sleep difficulties related to stress
- Decreases symptoms of arthritis
- Increases “feel good” hormones
- Increases immune system
- Decreases pain
Additionally, there is a calming effect from touch. It gives us a sensation of comfort and caring, which everyone needs, but especially a mom or parent. It also allows you “away time” from home, and many massage therapists are pleasant to talk to. There are a variety of massages that you can choose from, and they can take as little as 15 minutes for a quick neck rub or up to an hour for an intensive all over body massage.