I Am That Mom Facing Burnout

My calendar says that I’m supposed to be writing a post this week for moms who are burnt out.

Little did I know that I would be the mom needing that post.

My very honest take on where I'm at--facing overwhelm and homeschool mom burnout. This was not an easy post to write, but I know many, many women are in this same place and need to hear my story, so I am sharing it.

My Burnout Symptoms

Here’s what I am working through: I feel very much run-over by the marathon of motherhood and homeschooling—emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I know that I am called to these noble tasks, but that doesn’t negate the seasons when I feel like I just am not going to make it. 

Two of my kids are going through some really challenging seasons right now which of course is exacerbating the condition.  I am doing all that I can to encourage and guide them (and feeling overwhelmed by their ongoing needs).

But there have been many disappointing days lately when (all) my kids just don’t get what I am desperately spending every last bit of effort to teach them.

There have been more than a few moments where I find myself utterly confused and desperate for answers to really hard, ongoing situations.

And lately, little seems to relieve my deep heart ache.

The most horrible part of these moments? There is just no escape! Motherhood isn’t a job any of us can call in sick for! Therefore, I know when I go to sleep that I must get up the next day and face every part of them all over again.

All of this has put my emotions in a tailspin, and brought old inner demons to light. Despite all that the Lord has taught me on discovering joy in motherhood, here I sit battling unreasonable thought patterns that I dealt with years ago.

RELATED YVF VIDEO: “Keeping Your Eyes Above the Waves” (subscribe now)

 

Waiting for Direction When You’re Overwhelmed

“Processing.” That’s what my best friend termed it last night. She is going through a similar state of being stuck in a long, difficult, hard valley with no discernible direction. Of feeling completely emotionally and physically drained day after day by ongoing issues.

This is a difficult place for us Type-A folks, we surmised, because here “A” plus “B” doesn’t equal C. As moms, we are so used to solving issues and moving on.

However in these situations, it’s like we get this horrible computer noise (you know the one that basically means a blaring NO) when our brain tries to come up with a solution. And it’s that “no” that is so heartbreaking because, really, in our minds, we feel like we should have an answer.

More than that, we want an answer because the pain of not having an answer is unbearable day after day.

The Difficult Days of Being a Burnt Out Mom

I dealt with severe depression during my senior year of college.

And while I am nowhere near that point of desperation, I have been asking God, “Why are you leading me down this difficult and lonely path? Do we have to go here again? And please, please… don’t let my stay here this time be as long or as brutal. My family needs me… and I need me.”

I do feel blessed with more wisdom now than that scared, 21-year-old, brand-new Christian young woman. Twenty years of knowing Jesus has, thankfully, brought a confidence and trust in His guidance and purposes.

Deep down, from the depths of my soul, I understand that He loves me and will always be there, despite my feelings and emotions of the moment.

And I am blessed by 2 Corinthians 1 which states that God comforts us through our trials so that we can be comforters to others. Oh, how I have seen this verse proven over and over in my life!

So, perhaps He wants me to experience these emotions as a mom so that I can expand my understanding in this area and therefore minister to more women. I am confident that He has only good plans for me, and that yes, He will use these experiences to encourage someone else. It really helps me to know that my pain will be redeemed as blessing and that God will make beauty from these ashes.

Glimmers of Light When Motherhood is Exhausting
My very honest take on where I'm at--facing overwhelm and homeschool mom burnout. This was not an easy post to write, but I know many, many women are in this same place and need to hear my story, so I am sharing it.

My four-year-old and I play a game right now called “Teddy Bear.”

I made this game up several weeks ago when I really, really needed to take a 20-minute nap. I could trust everyone else in the house to continue on with their independent work, but I knew that my little guy… well, he would find something to do that I didn’t want him to do.

So I said to my tiniest kiddo, “Hey, how about you play a game with Mommy! Mommy really needs a teddy bear to snuggle with in her bed. Will you be my teddy bear?

He grinned and nodded… and faithfully laid as straight as an arrow by my side for 20 minutes as I slept (which both amazed and charmed me immensely). Thus, “Teddy Bear” was born.

We have played this game several times, and each time I am left grateful for such tender, loving moments with my son.

He now usually falls asleep too (which is an added blessing since I think he’s slowly dropping his afternoon nap time—eek!). Those moments laying there together remind me of the wonderful first 6 weeks with my babies when I’d bring them in bed with me and they’d sleep in the crook of my arm.

Oh such precious memories that make me shed tears of a different kind.

Simple but glorious mothering moments—these are my rays of hope right now. This is what I’m trying to store in my heart now, clinging to them on the rough days. 

Beyond Burnout (Working My Way Back)

I’m also trying to get back to basics and to let my body heal.

I think one of the things that’s brought on the mom burnout is that I have been living on too little sleep for way too long. I have pushed and pushed myself beyond what I should have.

So I’ve made a commitment (and am having a friend hold me accountable) to going to bed by 10:30 (which is much earlier than my typical 12:00 or 12:30) and getting back to my regular morning routine. Exercise has also become part of my routine.

I’m trying my best to step outside of myself and to be my own best friend, asking myself, “How would I counsel someone else going through this?”

I am making sure to eat right, and to drink lots of water. If I am tired, I try to sleep even though I can honestly say that I despise sleep (does that make me weird? please tell me there’s someone else out there that is annoyed that we have to stop our activities to sleep!).

And as cliche as it sounds, I am trying to take each day—sometimes each moment—one at a time. 

For our daily Bible time, the kids and I have begun studying the topic of true rest. I continue to be amazed as our Lord is so gracious to give promise after promise, and how He just wants to meet us in our broken, battered places. This kind of love is truly humbling and so difficult to accept.

But I am doing my best to believe His truths, even in the moments that I don’t “feel” them to be true. Psalm 23 has provided an especially beautiful picture in my heart of God leading me (even in this dark time) through beautiful meadows and by peaceful streams.

And in terms of homeschooling, I have given myself permission to take things day by day. On those really rough days, school may look like lots of independent work and then gathering together for some extended reading aloud time. As an overachiever I have to admit that’s a major concession for me, but I must protect myself during this (hopefully brief) season.

Yes, I Am A Burnt Out Mom

So that’s about it. That’s me in a nutshell right now—without the makeup and the hairspray.

I’m sharing all of this with you because I want my homeschooling journey to be an open book. I believe that a “vibrant” life is an honestly lived one. 

I want to be the first to raise my hand to say that my life isn’t all peaches and cream. We all go through these difficult periods and we must be honest with each other and help each other through.

Other Posts on Motherhood Challenges

4 Ways Acceptance with Joy Will Change Your Life Today

Giving Thanks Through the Trials and Tears

A Love Letter from God During Difficult Times

4 Ways to Cope When Motherhood Feels Relentless

About Alicia Michelle

As a wife and mom to four passionate kids, Alicia Michelle loves encouraging other moms with practical tips for joy-filled living in everyday life, especially in parenting, marriage, faith and health.Alicia is the owner/editor of Your Vibrant Family; the author of Plan to Be Flexible, The Back to School Survival Manual; and the creator/producer of the "7 Days to a Less Angry Mom Online Video Course,", Christ-Centered Christmas Resources and My Memory Box Organizing System. In addition, she is a monthly contributor for several popular family blogs, including Crosswalk.com.Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Leave a Reply 23 comments

Kate - October 15, 2014 Reply

Thank you so much for this. I’m definitely in the midst of burnout. I’m trying to homeschool a 12 year old girl and take care of a 4 month old girl at the same time while still dealing with postpartum depression. We only just moved to our new home (halfway across the country from where we lived for the last 13 years) less than a year ago and still don’t know many people. My husband works 12 hour days 5 days a week and takes the only vehicle to work 20 miles away so we’re home all day every day. There are so many days where getting dressed is the only thing we accomplish because I just can’t handle anything else. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. Of course God is with me all the time but it’s nice to know I’m not the only mom who doesn’t have it all together.

    Alicia Kazsuk - October 15, 2014 Reply

    Kate, thank you for your honest, heartfelt comment! I was thinking about what you wrote and God reminded me of a similar time in my life many years ago when I had a 7 year old that did NOT want to “do school”; a toddler running all over the place; a brand new baby; and a husband that was working a ton. I think God reminded me of this because He wanted me to remember (and to share with you) that our lives are constantly cycling in and out of seasons. It’s so hard to be in a difficult season because we don’t know how long it will last. But thank goodness for the gift of perspective because we can remember, “Yes, Lord, that was terribly hard; but you carried me through then and therefore I trust that you will carry me through this.” I am praying for you right now to know how loved and treasured you are to God… and to know from the depths of your soul that giving your best (even on the days when it doesn’t “feel” like enough) is 100%, completely, ENOUGH! Hang in there!

Lisa - October 15, 2014 Reply

Great post Alicia! 🙂 We ALL need that sometimes.

    Alicia Kazsuk - October 15, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, Lisa! 🙂

Jill - October 15, 2014 Reply

I totally understand!!! I have had some dark moments when it was only me and God. Right now, I am learning to accept that there are days when NO work will get done and those days that go right as rain. This is part of the joy of homeschooling and also when my child is asked if they like school and their teacher from someone who doesn’t know I homeschool! LOL Ok, so that is the quirky side of me! 🙂 Hang in there! I only have 1 that I am homeschooling now, and it is sometimes like moving Mt Everest to get ANY work done, but I am grateful for this time and know how fleeting it is. Enjoy the moment and treasure it. Be blessed!!! 😀

    Alicia Kazsuk - October 15, 2014 Reply

    Jill, thank you for your encouragement! I think we expect every homeschool day and season to look the same… but that’s just impossible! I’m doing my best to trust in the bigger picture, and that when I simply seek His kingdom and ways in my homeschooling (above all else), then everything I need to give my family as a homeschool mom will be given. Blessings back to you!

Kristina - October 16, 2014 Reply

I so needed to read this today. Thank you. Although I am not a homeschooling parent, I can feel 100% of what you’re saying. I sometimes find myself burned out and babbling in the corner, fighting demons in my head that I thought I put to rest a long time ago. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. The “Supermom” ” I can do it all ” syndrome has been embedded in our brains since we were kids. I fight this DAILY! I pray very hard for strength, to give it to God, and try and remind myself that as I much as I try, I am not in control, I will never be in control. He is. I love you sis! Hang in there!

    Alicia Kazsuk - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Kris, thank you for sharing this! Your words made my whole morning. I know that we fill our days with different “school” activities and wear different hats (working inside and outside the home), but either way, I feel that this “supermom” issue is truly the modern woman’s key dilemma. We CAN’T have it all… not at the same time at least. And we need to give ourselves space to cycle in and out of certain seasons where we focus our attention. You are an amazing mom–I can’t believe all that you do everyday with your kids!!! I was really struck by that fact the other night as we were sitting at the baseball game. I love you and will be praying for you to know in your soul how much you are loved by Jesus; and I will pray that He will show you where to focus your energies and where to let go (and that you and I both could be content with being “enough” in these rougher seasons where we feel stretched thin).

Lisa S - October 23, 2014 Reply

Thank you for this blog. It’s so nice to see an encouraging homeschool blog based on our relationship and dependence on God. I have health issues and homeschool my 10 yr old child who is my ONLY child. I always feel more incompetent knowing so many moms have many more kids, but still do more than me. It’s a constant guilty feeling. I’m praying God will give me strength thru this journey.

    Alicia Kazsuk - October 23, 2014 Reply

    Lisa,

    Thank you for your honest and sincere post! I am fully convinced that whether we have one child or seven children, homeschooling and parenting is HARD! I believe that it’s kind of a rubber band concept: when we have one child, it’s difficult as we try to manage it all. Then if we are blessed with another God does the impossible and somehow grows us to be able to manage more. And the cycle continues with each additional child we may be blessed with. Mothering/homeschooling stretches us like a rubber band, and there is tension no matter how “far out” the rubber band is stretched! I remember feeling totally stretched with one child… just like I do many days with four! Anyway… be BLESSED and cherish your one and only! He or she is incredibly lucky to have a one-on-one ratio with their momma and teacher! I pray that God will secure in your heart that THIS is JUST the right ratio for you and that He’d have it no other way! *hugs*

Ariana - April 8, 2015 Reply

It’s something of a comfort just to know that others go through this. Spring is my worst time. We all suffer from allergies then and everyone is so grumpy. Plus it’s the end of the school year and there is some natural burn out going on from that too. Many years we’ve done extra work for most of the first 3/4 of the year and then done less the last 1/4. Unfortunately this year my high schooler is taking several online courses that involve turning work in to actual teachers, so we can’t ease up.

Thank you for sharing with others the less than perfect moments. Some days it feels like every one else has a perfect life.

    Alicia Kazsuk - April 8, 2015 Reply

    Oh Ariana, I loved this. Thank YOU for being willing to share that your life isn’t perfect either! None of us have this mastered. None. I find the beginning and ending points in the school year the hardest for us as well. We all get “spring fever” and are just ready to be done. We too are under a more structure environment this year so it will be a little more challenging to slowly fade the school year out. However, I always comfort myself that in summer the kids are still definitely learning and growing as they each tackle individual self-led projects (I’ll be posting about that very soon).

    Hang in there, friend! 🙂

Branson - October 14, 2015 Reply

This is so very helpful! I have been struggling lately too, and am trying to scale back until I can get through a day without feeling overwhelmed all day long. It hasn’t happened yet, but I have hope! 😉

    Alicia Michelle - October 23, 2015 Reply

    Oh, I am totally with you here. I feel like the level of what I can handle changes with each parenting season, and that I need to adjust accordingly. Another one of those things about parenting/homeschooling that no one told me about. 😉 Thanks for sharing.

Ann - February 4, 2016 Reply

Isaiah 50:10 “Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on His God.” 1) There WILL be times when even believers feel like we have “no light.” 2) Sometimes the only possible action/solution/processing is TRUST. 3) We can RELY on God, place our confidence in Him, that His plan is good, even when we are in darkness and can’t see the end. How do I know all this? Because I’ve been through it recently myself. And as I slowly am coming out the other side, and the glimmers of light are getting brighter and more frequent in our circumstances and my heart, I know even better now that this verse is TRUE. Hang in there, cutie. HUGS!!

    Ann - February 4, 2016 Reply

    Ha! SO did not realize the original date on this post! Well, it’s still a good verse. LOL. 🙂

      Alicia Michelle - February 5, 2016 Reply

      No worries! YES! I love this verse and SO APPRECIATE the encouragement. We all go through these times and need God’s truths to carry us through! Thank you, friend, for sharing.

Jen - February 5, 2016 Reply

Great post, Isn’t it funny how sometimes the post we are about to write ends up being for us…and not the reader so much. However once we post it, we realize we are not alone.

Thanks for sharing this very difficult to write post with us.

    Alicia Michelle - February 5, 2016 Reply

    Jen, thank you so much for your encouragement! My goal always is to share my REAL journey in the hopes of encouraging other moms who may be experiencing the same thing. Thanks for your kind words.

Toni - July 5, 2016 Reply

Thank you!! I’m sitting here stressing about what to do for next year and I haven’t even recovered from last year. I’m dealing with chronic health issues and my children are feeling the weight of it. I’m grateful that I saw your post, reminding me to step back and come to Him. I don’t want to be “busy”, I want to flourish and create that nurturing environment for the kids. Balancing that with the academics is a struggle for me, I haven’t found that flow yet but I know it involves coming to Him more. Blessings to you.

    Alicia Michelle - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Yay! Thank you for sharing, Toni. I totally understand what you’re saying. It’s so hard to prep for the next school year when we’re still recovering from the previous year! Is it possible for you to just kind of put things aside for a few weeks and find peace and clarity? It also sounds like moderation and lots of flexibility might be in store in this next year if you’re dealing with chronic health issues too. Perhaps you can spend this time in prayer seeking how He might want you to live out this next school year? Blessings to you as you look to Him for wisdom about next year.

Heidi - November 10, 2016 Reply

I can totally relate. Although my burn out is in a totally different part of my life. It is still not easy to feel like you are failing and the world is falling apart. I just started Homeschool this year and absolutely LOVE it <3 I think as Moms; we all have times when we expect too much of ourselves. We give our family everything we've got and forget that we need to refill our tanks too. It is such a delicate balance and it often seems overwhelming. Some how… Someway we make it through and make it work. I am definitely learning this all the hard way. Mom's don't get time off or sick days so we just go non-stop. It definitely helps to talk about it and realize there is a imbalance. Thank You for your honesty. It is nice knowing I am not alone with these struggles in life.

    Alicia Michelle - November 18, 2016 Reply

    Heidi! Thank you so much for sharing your story! YES, we all go through those moments when we take on way more than we should without taking time to refuel ourselves. I’m always having to learn that lesson too! Thank you for being transparent and sharing with us.

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