Not too long ago I was part of a work seminar called ‘Overcoming Burnout’. A professional in healthcare offered a virtual orientation, followed by a couple of fun events in person for the employees in honor of healthcare week. But mainly our employer wanted to hear our opinions, situations, and ideas to better handle burnout at work. Sounds pretty good right?
But, what exactly is burnout?
Stress, being overwhelmed, overworked, physical and mental exhaustion, lack of motivation, maybe? Well, all those things can be part of it, and if you are a parent, you can add parenting burnout to the equation.
According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report, the “burnout gap” between men and women has nearly doubled since 2020, and an analysis by Maven found that working moms are 28% more likely to experience burnout than working dads.
I’m lucky to have a partner that is involved and together we split the household responsibilities but some moms have to figure out things on their own, like raising their families by themselves and at the same time trying to thrive in their careers.
I have learned many things through the years, but here are a few I had to learn on my own in order to cope with the burnout as a working mom.
1. Glass vs Rubber
I read some time ago about the importance of learning how to differentiate what’s made out of a glass or what is made of rubber … I thought this was a very interesting way to explain how to prioritize, period.
Anything made of glass “can’t be dropped and must be prioritized and attended to with care.” However, on the other hand, anything made of rubber “can be dropped or put down for a while without damage.”
So, we need to figure out which is which in our life and work and learn to prioritize.
- What’s most important to me?
- What’s non-negotiable?
- What can wait?
I’ve learned by experience to put this into practice, and it has made everything better in many ways. I had to learn by necessity that not everything is urgent or made of “glass.”
2. Interrupt personal triggers
I used to look at my personal and work phone as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning. So typically, I was already feeling overwhelmed or worried first thing before I even left my bed, brushed my teeth, had my coffee, or said good morning to my children. Something that would affect my mood immensely and my approach to them… it was awful and triggering for me.
We all know our personalities and triggers. The most important thing is to create a list of practices to help you navigate during the stressful moments.
Now, I wake up, get out of bed, do my morning routine, kiss my children good morning, take care of myself and my mind before I start my day, and even consider looking at the fires happening in my email.
3. Time management and work flexibility
Another important topic I’m happy to say has changed positively in the last 2 years after a global pandemic, is having a more flexible work schedule. Companies realized an employee (depending on your job) can be as productive working remotely even in a hybrid environment and sometimes even more than going in person every day. As a working mother, I wear many hats. I’m very proud of having the opportunity to have a career and at the same time being able to be present for my children. But it comes with a lot of sacrifices, not enough hours in the day, and being pulled in 100 different directions. So, I’m not exactly putting myself in first, second, or even third place sometimes.
A good work-life balance is important. I’m happy to now work in a hybrid environment for a company that is truly family oriented. I know one of the cliches out there is not bringing your work to the house and learning when to shut down. But that has changed during the remote work era. In my case, what works best for me right now is to get my work done during the day and take care of what has priority (made out of glass) but also take care of some other personal things and family as well (pick up and drop the kids from school, important events, Dr. appointments, household chores or errands) and then later during the night when the kids are in bed, I circle back to finish anything pending or “made of rubber” (not urgent).
4. Know your limits
Being in the workforce for a good amount of time (a long time) I know when I have to take a break. I have seen around me how burnout can turn into a very serious illness and affect us all in different ways. You can experience and develop symptoms very similar to depression and anxiety disorder. This is when you need to make sure to seek professional help if you feel these symptoms are interfering with your personal life, work performance, and relationships.
It is not unusual for us mothers to experience low drive and energy and not be motivated at work. That can translate into the home. Seek help if you need it but most importantly, take care of yourself.
For me, my biggest motivation is to see my babies’ beautiful faces at the end of the day. It’s quality time and putting in your best effort to make it count.
You got this mamas!