I recently read an article that a mom spends 97 hours a week parenting. This survey was based on 2,000 moms in America with children ranging from 5 to 18 years of age. Now this article was written pre COVID-19. But if you don’t believe these numbers, head on over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics where they report that working moms in partnerships or marriages engage in 2.1 hours per day of household activities compared to their partner of 1.4 hours per day. Can you imagine how many hours a single mom is spending parenting now during quarantine?
What I am hearing lately from working moms is that they are completely overwhelmed with working from home. They feel like they are in danger of burnout, and we know this phenomenon is real because burnout is now an official diagnosis according to the World Health Organization, and although WHO applies burnout in the context of occupational work, it can also cross over into your homelife as well.
Now that we know it’s not all in our head, how do we recognize it and what can we do about it? According to the World Health Organization, burnout is defined as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
reduced professional efficacy.”
Here are 5 ways you can avoid burnout working from home as a single mom.
It seems so simple but you would be surprised how many people struggle with setting boundaries and saying the word “No.” Here are some ways you can set boundaries:
- Saying no to working after or extra hours. Although it may make sense monetarily, ask yourself does this help me attain the lifestyle that I desire?
- Take time for leave or vacation available to you when needed. Use this time to reset.
- Delegate responsibility. Don’t try and do it all! This is a recipe for burnout. Talk with your children to take on more chores around the house so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Disconnect from your devices. Set times you will check emails and have a cutoff time when you are not available.
- Commit to and stick to your plan to manage your energy. Clearly communicate your nonnegotiables.
REALIZE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WORK-LIFE BALANCE DURING COVID-19
If you ackowledge this concept, you are less likely to feel discouraged. Work-life balance was hard to accomplish before COVID-19 and pretty much impossible now. Aim for work-life “counterbalance” as discussed in this post from Sheryl Kline, a high performance coach.
If you follow my blog, you know I am a advocate for self-care. Particularly when it comes to my moms, it is important to practice self-care regularly. This can be breathing techniques, exercise or meditation, and it can be as little as 20 minutes. But it must be something that restores your energy. Look at this time as maintenance or upkeep of your mental health. And if you have the extra cash, why not hire a coach or a therapist to help support your efforts in offloading stress.
RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR BURNOUT
Are you blowing up at your kids and family members? Are you finding it difficult to sleep at night even though you are exhausted? Are you having unexplained physical pain? Do you feel like you are completely depleted and that you can no longer do your job effectively?
These can be signs of prolonged chronic stress, according to the American Institute of Stress. Get clear on the stages of burnout so that you can get a handle on it sooner rather than later.
HAVE GRACE WITH YOURSELF
This step is last on my list but certainly not least. I actually think it is one of the most important things you can do in avoiding burnout. Forgiving yourself is necessary, and it’s something you may struggle with if you are a perfectionist. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. Stop setting unattainable expectations. Trust that you are doing the best you can.
As mothers, we want to be honest and accountable with ourselves, but we also want to remember to show grace just like you would reassure a good friend. When you start to feel doubtful and need reassurance, confide in a trusted ally to help you get that confidence back!
What tips would you add to this list? Please, comment below.
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