Imagine for a minute that you work in a high-stress environment, where you are constantly being pulled in all different directions and constantly having to change your skill-set in order to accomplish whatever task is at hand for the day. Now imagine that for this specific job, you get no days off. In fact, you’re even called in sporadically (yet not so sporadically as it seems because these calls seem to be on a pretty regular basis) every single night.
Welcome to motherhood!
I don’t really like using the word “job” to describe being a mom, but let’s get real for a minute: it can definitely feel like work a lot of the time. A lot of work. I was talking to some friends the other day, and we started talking about the topic of being ‘burnt out’ and how it can be a pretty normal thing for people to feel at some point or another in their careers. Here in Amsterdam, it is illegal to deny an employee time off in the event of a burn out, so it’s a pretty serious thing here. But what does that mean for us moms? Whether you’re a working mom, or staying at home with your little ones, you are most likely going to feel burnt out at one point or another. I don’t care if you have one baby who is only five days old, or you’re a seasoned mother of three who are already in their teens: being a mom is HARD. Did you know that there is research out there that shows that being a mom is actually like working 2.5 full-time jobs? Like what?? That is insane. Hats off to all of the mamas out there who have designated hours and a place they have to be everyday for their “real” job too. I can’t even imagine. But back to what I was saying - being a mom is hard, and mom burn out is a real thing.
So what can we do?
I’m not saying that sleep is the be-all and end-all, but when it comes to that feeling of burnout, it can help enormously. Think about it: when was the last time that you got a full 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Heck, when was the last time you even got 5 hours of great sleep? When was the last time that you were able to take some time to yourself to feel rested? Like actually rested. I’m not talking about that little cat-nap that you sneak in by closing your eyes between cleaning up the pieces of toast off the floor and putting away the dishes in the dishwasher while you’re toddler miraculously plays alone for 5 minutes. I am talking about actually feeling rested. Can you imagine how you could feel if you were really getting the amount of sleep that your body needed? Moms are incredible, but we’re not invincible. We still need sleep.
It’s insane how little sleep we can continue to run on when we become mothers. I remember with our first daughter, I literally didn’t sleep for three days straight. Okay, so I’m sure I slept a tiny bit at least, but for the most part I was awake for almost three whole days. The first year of my first daughter’s life was amazing, and I loved/still love being her mother of course, but I was exhausted every single day. Mom burnout is real, and I have felt it more times than once. Now I am a mom of two (two years old and nine months old), and I am getting more sleep than I did when we only had one. While the “work” has doubled, I can honestly say that there are times when I feel less stressed and less burnt out because I am getting the sleep that my body needs most of the time. Being a mother can be so stressful, but being a sleep deprived mother can feel leave us feeling like being the mom we truly want to be is impossible. So take the time to prioritize your sleep. Prioritize your little one’s sleep. Don’t get stuck in feeling guilty for wanting that for yourself.
You and your family deserve to be healthy and happy, and if you’re not getting that sleep that you need over a period of time, there is no way that you can avoid that mom burnout to sneak up on you. You are an amazing mama, and your little ones are so lucky to have you, but you still need to remember to prioritize your health too.
You got this, mama.