How moms across the US are coping with pandemic-induced burnout12/24/2020
- Research shows that millions of working moms are feeling burnout.
- The impacts and stressors of the pandemic aren't going away any time soon, so these moms have gotten creative about combating burnout.
- From getting more sleep to easing expectations, here are their tips for survival.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
For moms who were already tired and stretched thin before 2020, living through a global pandemic has been the last straw. The only problem: most moms don't have the option to put down their load — they have to just keep trudging along.
It's no wonder that nearly 10 million moms in America say they're dealing with burnout, according to an analysis from MavenClinic and Great Place to Work. Burnout — feeling exhausted and depleted — affects mothers at home and at work, because when you're burned out, it's hard to feel like you're doing anything well. Because of the unequal division of labor in most American homes, and the pressure on women to take on lots of invisible labor, mothers are 28% more likely than fathers to be dealing with burnout.
Amid the burdens of being a mother in 2020, some women have been able to find solutions — little ways of preserving their wellness at a time when everything feels unbalanced. Here are three ways to help keep burnout at bay.
Think creatively about sleep
Sleep is critical, and getting the appropriate amount can reduce stress and ward off chronic disease.
Meg St-Esprit McKivigan, a mom of four from Pennsylvania, treated herself to a full night of sleep with zero interruptions by checking into a hotel near her home.
"I brought food, bath bombs, a book," she said.
Heather Osterman-Davis, a mom of two from New York, has figured out a more sustainable solution. She and her husband each get one night a week where they sleep completely alone and uninterrupted, from after dinner to after breakfast.
"It's glorious," she said.
On Osterman-Davis's night to sleep, she hides away in the master bedroom. When it's her husband's turn, she takes the kids for a sleepover in the master bedroom while he sleeps uninterrupted in the kid's room, making sure that everyone is well rested and at their best.
Make work a refuge
Many moms bounce from the stressors of work to the stressors of home without a minute to catch their breaths. Because of that, Eva Jo, a mom of two from California, wanted to find a way to integrate self-care into her work day. Jo, who runs workshops, began booking speakers whose messages resonated with her during this tumultuous year, including experts on trauma-informed care, parenting, and self care.
"Basically, I turned my work into something that was super calming and useful to me," she said.
While not everyone will have the ability to make such a dramatic switch, there's a lot to be said for controlling your work where you can, and saying yes to the projects that are more interesting to you.
Explore the worst case scenario
Early on in the pandemic, many parents felt pressure to be productive and engaging, especially with kids. But Laksh Giri, a mom of three from Pennsylvania, recognized that she was in survival mode. She had to actively train herself "not to sweat the small stuff," she said.
So she imagined the worst-case scenario.
"The worst that will happen is that my kids have to repeat a year and that is not a big deal," Giri said. She realized stressing over academics was going to do the kids more damage than taking a lax approach to schooling at home.
Giri chose to focus on the fact that this year is unique. That didn't mean she had to achieve everything, but it did mean that she could let expectations for herself and her kids slip a bit, without worrying about the long-term consequences.
"I'm reminding myself that a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event," she said. That mindset — and anti-anxiety medications — have helped Giri cope.
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