It’s very cliché to say, but being a mom is HARD. Really hard. Yes, there are times that are amazing, you’re rocking it as a mom and you’re loving it all. But with all of the positives come many challenges: whining, crying, spills, injuries, fights, tantrums, hitting, not sharing, arguing, manipulating, not sleeping and more.
Moms have such a difficult task in trying to navigate all of this along with managing the logistics of the family, driving kids places, being responsible for feeding, bathing, AND keeping kids safe, healthy and loved (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg).
Oh, and there may be a significant other involved so we should probably give that relationship some attention. And mom might actually have a job on top of all of this—it’s no wonder we’re exhausted sometimes and feel like we have no more left to give.
What can you do when you feel you have nothing left?
You need to take care of yourself. We cannot take care of others if we’re not taking care of ourselves. It seems obvious and also is so hard to do. If you ignore yourself and your needs for a short amount of time you’ll probably be okay but if you constantly push yourself to the to the back-burner, well, you’ll end up burnt out. Stop doing that! Take the time (even 15 minutes) to take care of yourself.
Cut yourself some slack. Many moms end up with nothing left to give because we give so much all the time. If you’ve reached a point of what feels like no return, it’s time to let up somewhere. For example, you don’t have to make dinner tonight—order pizza (or if it’s not in the budget, throw cold cuts, cheese, bread and fruit on the table and tell everyone to help themselves). The laundry doesn’t need to be folded; it’s clean, throw it in a drawer. Better yet, let your kids do it. Find ways to let yourself off the hook and don’t feel bad about it. Remember that this is actually good for you.
Manage that inner critic. I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I have nothing left to give, I also have my inner critic telling me that I should be better, that I’m not doing good enough and that I should be strong enough to keep going. You know what? Tell that inner critic to shut it. Seriously. You need that inner voice to be an ally, not an enemy.
Create joy. One of the best ways to fill yourself back up is to enjoy what you’re doing. You may know that life should be fun, but we need to get past our heads and into our hearts on this one. You need to really feel the joy, experiencing it whole-heartedly. Joy can be created in so many ways so find what works best for you. Depending on you and your needs, creating joy may or may not include your kids. If you need a break from them, don’t feel bad—you will be in a better place after you take a much-needed break.
For some reason, moms tend to put everyone else first—this is probably part of what makes us so great at what we do—but it can also lead to burn-out. If you have nothing left to give, chances are the rest of the family and those around you are feeling the effects. So, rather than continuing to feel like you have no more “mom” left in you, find ways to recharge and get back to feeling like yourself.
Sara Robinson, MA is the founder of Get Mom Balanced. Growing up she always knew that a traditional 9-5 job would not work out for her: she likes variety, creativity, free-time and also wanted to fit in a family. She is a mom of two young boys, teaches mental skills to athletes, and now helps support moms finding balance with all that they juggle. When she's not sitting behind a computer she can be found hanging out with her boys, mostly laughing, reading and having dance parties. Go visit her site at Get Mom Balanced.