Nurturing YOU: Overcoming Burnout as a Working Mom

By: Kristen Lipari, Ph.D. | June 16, 2023

Balancing motherhood and working outside the home is a balancing act that can leave you feeling stretched thin. You may find yourself wrestling with guilt when you don’t meet the high expectations you set for yourself. As a psychologist who specializes in perinatal mental health, I not only work with moms with young children, I am a working mom myself!

Working moms have two full-time jobs: working at work and working at home. Work and home demands can make moms feel like they’re never doing enough. If this describes you, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember: it’s not you; feeling overwhelmed is to be expected with so many demands!

Burnout in parenthood refers to a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that parents experience due to the overwhelming demands of raising children. Signs of burnout in parenthood include:

  • chronic exhaustion
  • feeling drained by parenting responsibilities
  • no longer enjoying fun activities
  • loss of motivation
  • increased irritability
  • cynicism
  • neglecting self-care
  • social withdrawal

To stay afloat as a working mom, it’s essential to prioritize self-care, redefine success, and cultivate self-compassion. In this blog post, I will explore strategies to overcome burnout, surrender “mom guilt,” and acknowledge your worth as a working mom.

1. Accept the Importance of Self-Care

Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary – especially for working moms. Prioritize time for yourself to recharge. It can feel impossible to find the time, but consider simple, accessible activities like take a short walk after work before picking up the kids, make time for a nutritious snack, or meditate alone when you feel overwhelmed. When you nurture yourself, you will have more energy to devote to work and family.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

You can’t do it all, nor should you try. Set realistic expectations for yourself and release the pressure to be perfect. Instead, take a “good enough” approach and redefine your definition of success. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. And, don’t take on too many goals at once; that’s just a recipe for further burnout.

3. Delegate and Establish Boundaries

It’s okay to delegate tasks. If it’s an option, share responsibilities with your partner, engage your children in chores that are appropriate for their age, or engage outside resources. When you delegate, your family members feel empowered to contribute, and take ownership of household responsibilities. Remember, if you can’t add more to your plate, it’s okay to simply say ‘no.’

4. Foster Self-Compassion to Counter Negative Self-Talk

“Mom guilt” often stems from unrealistic expectations. Be kind to yourself and honor your unique journey of motherhood. Using strategies from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you can challenge your critical, negative thoughts and replace them with self-compassion and acceptance. Remind yourself that you are doing your best with the multiple roles you juggle. Acknowledge the love and care you provide for your family as both a mother and a provider.

5. Celebrate Achievements

Recognize your achievements, both the big ones and the small. Take time to reflect on your successes as a working mom. Even on a bad day, something went right. Make it a practice to celebrate milestones and give yourself credit for the dedication and resilience that you pour into your family and work.

6. Seek Support

Build a support system around you. Connect with other working moms who can truly understand your experiences and provide validation, reassurance, and practical suggestions.

Acknowledge your worth, set realistic expectations, seek support, and practice self-compassion to reclaim balance and fulfillment.

Your efforts as a working mom are commendable, and you don’t have to overexert yourself to be “enough. “If you’re feeling signs of burnout in parenthood, a San Diego psychologist who specializes in parenthood and perinatal concerns can help you navigate these struggles. You don’t have to do this alone. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.



Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Get our latest articles sent directly to your inbox!