How to Help Mom Burnout: It’s Time to Stop Calling Mom’s Superheroes

Mental Health, Postpartum Care

Mom burnout is on the rise. It’s time to show up for moms with the support they deserve. 

Last Mother’s day the Canadian Women’s Foundation made national headlines with startling research showing that many mothers were nearing their breaking point.

 

          • Almost half of moms (48%) reported they were reaching their breaking point
          • 67% of mothers reported they are now concerned about their physical health compared to the year prior (55%)
          • A different 2022 peer reviewed meta-analysis revealed that approximately 1 in 4 mothers of young children have been experiencing clinically significant depression and 1 in 2 mothers are experiencing anxiety during the past few years.

 Mom burnout is on the rise

This year, here at Care for Women, we’ve witnessed this first hand through the substantial increase of applications to our program designed to support new moms; compared to April 2022, in 2023 we have seen a 444% increase in applications. We have now reached the maximum amount of applications we can take for 2023 – unless more donors step forward to help support more new moms.

It’s only May and we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of applications from pregnant women looking for postpartum support.

The research and number of applications to our program show the dire lack of support for new moms, which can have very real and sometimes long-lasting consequences for both mother and baby.

To help support more mothers through one of the most vulnerable and critical periods of parenting – the first four weeks postpartum, we need help from the community with more donations.

Mothers are superheroes, but they need help.

Symptoms of mom burnout

Mom burnout is usually defined as a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, where ongoing stressors deplete energy resources.

Some symptoms of mom burnout can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Persistent exhaustion
  • Feelings of anger or frequent yelling
  • Having negative interactions with your kids
  • Negative self-talk

To be clear, mom burnout isn’t just a buzzword, burnout is a very real emotional and biological condition that can lead to or occur in conjunction with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.

How to help mom burnout

This year we’re hoping to call more attention to the fact that more than ever, moms don’t need to be told they’re superheroes, they need the village of support they deserve. 

For example, there’s the story of Alana, a new mom who applied for support through Care for Women when she was 31 weeks pregnant and expecting her second child. Not only was she experiencing a challenging pregnancy, but her partner was unable to take any time off work when the baby arrived. Upon delivery, Alana and her partner separated. Her Care for Women mentor was there for her and was able to drive her to medical appointments, help care for her older son and help with household tasks. Now these two women have developed a strong friendship, but there are so many other stories, just like Alana who don’t have the village of support they deserve.

As a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in trauma and child development I know first hand, through my clinical work as well as the research, the long-term poor outcomes that can occur – such as a high ACE score later in life – when moms don’t have the support they need.

Poor outcomes such as – postpartum depression, poor mother-infant interactions, high ACEs can be greatly reduced or altogether prevented with social support. 

Below are three steps family, friends and colleagues can take to support a mom who may be burned out:

1. Take a new mom out for a gentle walk around the block – away from the house and kids.

Research shows that spending time with people and walking are both critical to
improving both mental and physical wellness.

2. Deliver food and freezer meals to their doorstep – many moms are overwhelmed by the daily workload that comes with parenting. Taking a task like cooking off of their hands is a practical support that will lighten the load and save them time.

3. Schedule in time to hold/watch their kids – it can be hard for moms to ask for help, and most often don’t look for childcare unless they need it for something like an appointment. Taking “me time” away from the kids can cause mom guilt. Schedule in time to watch the kids with the only catch that the mom needs to take time for themselves!

Here at Care for Women we know that many new moms don’t have the village they deserve. We exist to support new moms during those challenging first few weeks after a baby comes home.

This year we’re working to raise $15,000 to create villages for 50 new moms! Together, with you, we can.

Learn more about the work we do, the moms we serve and consider donating today: https://careforwomen.ca/donate/

The myth of “easy” parenting and the importance of mom friends postpartum 

When new mothers struggle to adjust to parenting, they often carry a belief that parenting shouldn’t be this difficult.

But the truth is, parenting is challenging. You are on 24-7 which is exhausting, emotionally draining, and it can come with social and career changes that for many parents are hard to adjust to, even when you’ve planned for and even hoped for these changes.

It turns your world upside down; hopefully, in a ratio of way more ways that are wonderful, fulfilling and good, than challenging. But just because there is so much good, doesn’t mean that those challenging ways aren’t so hard.

Maybe even worse than that is the myth of “superhero” mothering – the idea that mothers can do everything, all by themselves, without struggle or complaint.

Having a community of mom friends is critical and so important for your wellbeing and your children’s wellbeing.

Building a community of supportive moms can be hard for adults.

That’s where Care for Women comes in.

Care for Women is a by-women-for-women group of seasoned moms who will listen to you, talk to you, and help you with the problems new moms struggle with – because we don’t think any mom should be alone through parenting.

Care for Women is here for moms like you who need…

  • Other moms to talk to who have been through child rearing before – or who are going through it now
  • Friends who will listen to your struggles and share their own challenges and success stories
  • An online community of supportive moms who can answer your questions and help you through tough times

That’s what the Care for Women community offers – and more! 🙂

Get involved with Care for Women

If you’re a seasoned mom wishing that you had a community during the early days of mothering, you may consider becoming a mentor!

This year, our goal is to build communities for new moms in the hard weeks postpartum. With your help, we can do it!

Learn more about the work we do, the moms we serve, and consider making a donation today: https://careforwomen.ca/donate/

Written by Renae Regehr

Renae Regehr is a mom to 4 kiddos, co-founder of Care For Women and a Registered Clinical Counsellor who works primarily with children, youth and families who have been impacted by trauma and attachment disruptions.

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