How to Deal With Mom Burnout (Especially In Pandemic Times)

Mom burnout is a real thing. Especially now when we are expected to stretch ourselves and actually become superhuman in the time of a pandemic (and the transition to after). Working mom burnout, stay-at-home mom burnout, worried mom burn out and stressed out af mom burnout is all happening at the same time and without any of our control or say.

We didn’t sign up for this shit. And what’s worse is moms tend to bear the burden of the mental load more often than men so not only did we not sign up for it, we’ve likely already been doing this (and by this I mean all the care tasks…usually,) for A WHILE.

Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

As a DGAF mom, my whole thing is about picking and choosing the fucks I have to give and I’ll be honest…in this evolving time of parenting, it’s been really fucking hard to figure out which fuck I need to give when it shifts constantly.

Admitting you’re feeling the mom burnout is 90% of the battle.

In my post about toddler aggression, I talk about the idea of “name it to tame it.” This doesn’t just apply to toddlers. In fact, in our house, we use this term to describe a lot of things…

Adults similarly need to identify the feelings we’re navigating so we can take steps to recover or at the bare minimum, integrate strategies to deal with mom burnout (aka parental burnout) as quickly as possible.

Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

What is Mom Burnout

I think it says a lot about the time we live in, in that there are multiple internet definitions of this term floating around. The mom burnout m meaning can vary depending on who you ask but I’ve compiled a few definitions for ya:

According to author and psychologist, Dr. Sherry Ziegler, mommy burnout is defined as:

Mommy burnout is the emotional and physical exhaustion that you feel from the chronic stress of parenting. It’s feeling like you’re over your kid sometimes, “No matter how much sleep you get, you’re always tired. And you resent your kids sometimes, which is a tough one. You feel a reduced sense of personal accomplishment — it’s a fancy way of feeling like you’re never doing a good job. The prolonged nature to it, like there’s no end in sight.”

According to this article in Psychology Today, parental burnout is defined as:

…burnout is an exhaustion syndrome, characterized by feeling overwhelmed, physical and emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing from one’s children, and a sense of being an ineffective parent. Freudenberger (1974) first coined the term in reference to staff workers. Proccacini and Kiefaver wrote about it in 1984, and then the concept kind of disappeared. Until recently, however, parental burnout hasn’t been systematically studied. 

The author who summarizes an impactful study that looked at nearly 1800 participants in total, went on to clarify…

Results indicated that parental burnout has much more severe implications than were previously thought. Burnout was associated with escape ideation—the fantasy of simply leaving parenting and all its stressors—as well as with neglectful behavior and a “violence” category that included verbal and psychological aggression (e.g., threats or insults) and physical aggression (spanking or slapping) directed at children.

Well shit.

Why Do We Feel Mom Burnout?

Have you seen this comic series floating around on the internet yet. This is one of the best visual and written descriptions of why I think Mom’s bare the brunt of the mental load I’ve ever seen.

Parental burnout feels like you have nothing left to give.

You are at the end of your rope, sometimes fantasizing of escaping it all.

We might find ourselves saying something like… “This work/life balance is insane right now!” Or “ Idk how I’m supposed to homeschool my kids AND be a full time working mom.”

The gender gap is at play here too. Because of course, it is.

While there certainly are dads who are navigating the parental burnout and supporting a family for some reason the moms tend to carry so much more of the mental load and to the potential of grave consequences.

Whether this is a result of institutionalized beliefs about gender roles, or about societal pressures of being a “supermom,”… whatever the reason somehow we wake up in a Groundhogs day of epic proportions –

Expectations from work, home, family and because we are moms we end up pushing ourselves past breaking points all the while telling ourselves that we can handle it.

Because we always have.

Getting Help for Mom Burnout

I’m gonna take a hot pause for a second here and let you know you are not alone in this.

Moms all over the world are feeling the ache, the fatigue, anger, and resentment of feeling forced to do all of the things at all of the time without any end in sight (seemingly).

There are collective tears being pooled all over the world.

I’m writing this about a week after there were considerable yelling and tears (both mine and my son’s) over his refusal to write the numbers 1 – 20 in three different colors as instructed by his first-grade teacher.

After 20 minutes of channeling my most patient version of myself, I started crying along with him.

He was shaking. He was telling me how hard it was. I was telling him I know. It’s so hard, and I hate watching him hate writing and learning.

So I started to cry, and at that point, I had to walk away into my closet, shut the door, turn off the lights, and sob the heaping grief for a loss of normalcy, loss of hope, and fear of an unknown future effect of the current time we live in.

Luckily, my husband was on a break from back to back phone calls and meetings and stepped in to help console our hysterical firstborn who was now also feeling the abandonment of “why did mommy leave?! I was sad and I needed her!”

After about 40 minutes of sobbing (the eye swollen, headachy kind of sobbing that comes from deep wails of grief) I pulled myself together, walked downstairs, and hugged my baby boy as hard and as long as I could.

He’d already finished writing the numbers, hoping to make me happy by doing the thing he was asked to do. (wow that mom guilt really rears it’s ugly head, ugh.)

Instead of going back to his desk and fighting through the rest of the work, I brought his computer to the couch, we snuggled and watched a bunch of videos together and reconciled what is now becoming hundreds of “hard days” strung together by fleeting moments of new normalcy.

We feel mom burnout because we care so fucking much about our kids.

We feel mom burnout because we care so damn much about our families.

And what’s “supposed” to happen. And that feeling of wanting to give them a happy, light, fun childhood which in many cases has been ripped away because of a virus that’s run rampant across the globe but even worse and more specifically in the United States because of a failure of leadership from the highest level.

How to Recover from Mom Burnout

There are many well-intentioned blog posts out there from fellow burnt out parents espousing the advice of the century with things like “39 Easy Ways To Recover from Mom Burnout” and while many of the suggestions are definitely helpful, there is this equally delusional sense that all it takes to recover from the burnout of the century is to download a printable checklist, order some bath salts, and get to work.

The last thing I want to do when I’m feeling burnt out is do more work. Have more checklists.

And I resent any kind of work that feels like “more” at the moment.

Even if it means I might feel a little bit better.

There are definitely benefits to self-care and carving out time for your own mental well being when you’re facing the mom burnout feelings.

But I’d like to suggest that you start with one very important and intentional step toward feeling better:

Professional Mom Burn Out Help

Talking to a professional therapist who is trained to help guide you through these challenges with intention, respect, and in a way that provides you with tools catered specifically for you will help you navigate mom burnout if you’re dealing with it right now…and in the future.

To Do List | Let’s Fucking Do This – A To-Do List To Get Shit Done


Better Help is one of the original online/web-based therapy platforms that allows you to have therapy via text, phone, or face-time style video call.

I’ve been working with a therapist I found on Better Help for about a year.

I’m no stranger to therapy and encourage my readers to get help in their marriage via therapy, get help with behavioral issues for children, via therapy, and generally use a therapist to help you handle your mental load.

I’m personally the kind of client who doesn’t love to have a therapist forever.

I like to do the work, and get back to my life, and to be honest, after about three months of working with my therapist I was ready to go down to once a month. But then a pandemic hit.

And with it came the shifting dynamics of it being the year 2020 and WHAT FUCKING NEXT!?

Weekly therapy where I can talk about all the things I’m feeling without also having to manage someone else’s thoughts or feelings is a relief.

it is a one-way vent.

It’s the ultimate in self-care because I can be selfish in my thoughts, feelings, and privilege and process all of the mental load unburdened by anyone else’s personal shit.

I get to say everything and she not only listens and empathizes but also helps dig deeper to release what’s behind the feelings.

You can sign up for Better Help Here, and I believe the first session is free or complimentary.

Additionally, many companies and community organizations, as well as some insurance companies partner with Better Help for “free” therapy. Be sure to ask your HR if you have discounts or plans available to you.

Build a Routine For Your Family That Prioritizes YOU

If you already have an awesome therapist you’re working with, the next step in dealing with mom burn out is to get your whole family into a routine. And put the focus on what you need.

As that saying goes, you must put the mask on yourself before helping others.

For me, my burnout creeps in when I’m not able to do three essential things: Sleep, write, and exercise.

Before this school semester began I sat down with my husband and told him my priorities.

We shifted our ENTIRE day so that I can get enough sleep, get a chance to write, and get a chance to exercise.

It sucks but it means I go to sleep at around 9:30 so I can wake up at 5 to write, and work out at 7 AM for about an hour every day.


Every day.

On the weekend my husband and I alternate sleeping in on the weekend days but I’m so used to waking up this way that I have a hard time “sleeping in” anymore.

Furthermore, this helped our entire day shift. My kids actually go to sleep about an hour earlier now just because we wanted more adult time after they went to bed…(it took some adjustment but it worked!)

Take a few moments right now, take a deep breath, and ask yourself “What do I really need to feel good every day?”

Sit with it for a bit. Unless you know for sure WHAT that is…just use that question to guide your day. Here’s a hint – it’s not just someone putting their dishes away. Or someone picking up their clothes or folding the laundry. Dig deeper.

Getting Help for Mom Burnout: Have Your Kids Help More to Unburden that Mental Load

My kids went to a Montessori-style daycare and if you’re unfamiliar, the concept of Montessori is “Help me to do it myself.”

I love this because it’s another way of saying “Give a serious fuck about something once so you don’t have to forever.”

I’ve been having my oldest pack his own lunch since he started Kindergarten. And now he’s teaching his 4 year old brother to do it too.

Every night after dinner Alexa reminds us it’s time to make lunch for tomorrow, and my boys pull out their plastic bins, open the fridge and pantry and start putting together a lunch for the following day.

I love this because it helps me for so many reasons:

1) They get to feel autonomy in choosing what they want to eat and making it themselves (which is a life skill)

2) When it’s time for lunch tomorrow, it’s one less thing I have to think about/prep/do. It’s actually the first time in my day where I can sit down and relax. And sometimes I get to just make my own lunch or eat left overs with them, which feels very joyful.

*Yes. There is a learning/teaching curve for this but it pays IN DIVIDENDS FOR EVER because you won’t have to make their lunches ever again. Yes you’ll still have to remember you’re out of turkey meat when you go to the grocery store, but it’s one thing off the list you don’t have to do every day.

Other ways your kids can help:

  • Teach them to fold/put away the laundry
  • Have them clean up after their meals, and wipe down the counter/table
  • Have them help chop vegetables or fruits for snacks
  • Have them prep a snack area with pre-portioned snacks and fill it back up when it runs out.Here’s a complete list of age-appropriate chores for kids 10 and younger.

Help for Mom Burnout: Incorporate Quick Fix Strategies for Dealing With Mommy Burnout

Deborah Ann Davis, Award-winning Author, Parenting Skills Coach, and 20+ year high school teacher, emphasizes the importance of taking a little time to relieve built-up anxiety, especially during these times of intense change and stress.

Her newest book, “How to Keep Your Daughter From Slamming The Door”, dives deeper into how moms can unwind and destress while staying connected and engaged with their children. 

Here are Debroah’s quick-fix, or ‘Me-Moments’, for stressed-out moms from her recent book: 

  1. The Zip-Up
    1. Sit up straight and take a deep, calming breath in. 
    2. Place your fist at your naval as if you are zipping up your sweatshirt. Zip yourself up, all the way below your lip, then twist/lock your imaginary zipper in place. 
    3. Reach your hand over your shoulder and grasp an imaginary blanket, then pulling it over your head and down to below your nose. 
    4. Then twist and unlock your zipper. 

Doing this works to cultivate willpower and a healthy mindset, and to block negative energy from people around you.

  1. The Heart-Brain Connection
    1. Place your right palm on your right temple, and your left palm over your heart. Relax and breathe normally until you have a sigh or yawn. 
    2. Keeping your left palm over your heart, shift your right palm to your forehead. Relax and breathe normally until you have a sigh or yawn. 
    3. Place your right palm over your heart, and place your left palm over your left temple. Relax and breathe normally until you have a sigh or yawn. 
    4. Keeping your right palm over your heart, shift your left palm over to the back of your head. Cover the bulge at the base of your skull. Relax and breathe normally until you have a sigh or yawn

Doing this works to center and calm you.

The sighing and yawning are signs your energy, and emotions, have shifted.

Mom Burnout What to do: Utilize Technology to Help Preven Mom Burnout

You’ve probably done this a few times already but I’m going to insist that using Alexa or another digital assistant device is a game-changer for keeping you and your family on schedule.

Kids crave routine.

Mom’s have so much already on their plate, that remembering all the details of a day is actually impossible.

Outsource these things and make Alexa your bitch.

You can get an echo dot for about $25 on Amazon – have one for each child if you need to to keep it organized.

We have one and she tells our kids everything.

I legit have her programmed to remind my kids to make their lunch for the next day, to take a bath, to brush teeth, and do a potty check before “live school.”

Any appointments we have scheduled are inputted into Alexa so I don’t have to constantly check my calendar.

It takes a bit of work (I hate doing more work, but this is worth it) to get it in there…30 seconds of telling Alexa to set up a reminder is a lot easier than trying to remember the details.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with clock and Alexa – Sandstone


How to Deal with Mom Burnout: Prioritize Yourself to Avoid Mom Burnout

I know not many people are traveling right now but as the saying goes on an airplane, put the mask on yourself before assisting others.

You need to prioritize two to three things for yourself EVERY SINGLE DAY.

That might seem like a lot, but it will be a shift in focus that will lead to a sort of domino effect.

For me personally – my three priorities are in order:

1) Get Enough Sleep

2) Writing every day

3) Exercise 5 -6 days a week

Before school started this fall I had a long talk with my husband and we brainstormed exactly HOW to make sure I got these things.

For starters, I now go to bed between 9 – 9:30 every night. So I can wake up at 5 AM to write this blog.

It’s been a shift that created other shifts – we now put the boys to bed about 30 minutes earlier (and since school has started again that’s been okay because they’re wiped anyway!)

I wake at 5 AM and write until 7. Then I can exercise for any amount of time between 7 – 8 AM.

My husband handles all of the morning shit: Feeding them, making sure they go potty before school starts, or get dressed and brush teeth.

And he supervises my oldest logging on for his first live class of the day while I shower and get dressed (it doesn’t take long since I’m not going anywhere!)

But by 8:15 I’ve taken care of myself first.

My needs are met.

Which means I’m able to give to my kids. I’m more patient, kind, more centered.

Of course, not every day is perfect, but when I am able to do all three of these things, I feel better. I feel more present and able to handle my shit and the particular challenges of living in the time of this insanity.

Practice Boundaries to Save Yourself from Mom Burnout

Back in May when I was still working full time, still supervising full time distance learning, taking care of a toddler and a kindergartner, running a house, avoiding COVID before masks were mandatory, and generally carrying the mental load of seven elephants, I made a “no new things” rule to keep myself from overstretching.

If you don’t have boundaries you will land yourself firmly in burnout.

Boundaries are your besties in these times of uncertainty.

Boundaries mean saying no more than saying yes.

Boundaries mean prioritizing your mental and physical health over saying yes to volunteering for a shift with the PTA or taking on another role at work that you just don’t have the bandwidth for.

Luckily, graciously, most people understand this (especially now) so it’s easier to say no.

If it feels uncomfortable to say no, give yourself a timeframe. two weeks of no new things, or if you can, try it for a month.

It is liberating. You can even use your “no new things” rule as an “excuse.”

Use a Self-Care Toolbox to Recover from Mom Burnout

When you’ve got nothing left to give, and you feel that you don’t have time for therapy or you missed your work out or you find yourself on the other end of bedtime fully depleted and exhausted…

Create a toolbox of Self-care.

What is a self-care toolbox?

Not everyone will find everything relaxing and recharging in the same way so it’s important that you think about, curate, and establish a toolbox (a physical one or mental one is fine)

This is something my Better Help Therapist actually had suggested and something that I continue to do to this day.

Your toolbox should have things to satisfy all the senses:

Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

What’s in my tool box?

Sight: Buying fresh flowers every week; Taking a walk outside of my house (if weather permits) to change the scenery; a really good show or movie ; reading a good book

Benchmark Bouquets Flowering Fields, With Vase (Fresh Cut Flowers)

Benchmark Bouquets

Sound: I have several playlists in my Spotify that activate this sense; Sitting outside in silence/nature; Talking to my husband (who has a very soothing voice)

Smell: Candles. (So many candles); Baking Fresh bread or other homemade treats; Bubble bath with luxurious Luxe bath soaps.

Lulu Candles | Fresh Linen | Luxury Scented Soy Jar Candle | Hand Poured in The USA | Highly Scented & Long Lasting | Small – 6 Oz.

Lulu Candles

Taste: Eating fresh bread (or other homemade treats); Healthy snacks that feel nutritious and satisfying but also Vodka, Whiskey, Wine, and Edibles.

Touch: A really comfy sweater; my weighted blanket; a super hot bath.

ZonLi Adults Weighted Blanket 20 lbs(60”x80”, Grey, Queen Size), Cooling Weighted Blanket for Adult, 100% Cotton Material with Glass Beads


Avoiding Mom Burnout Pro Tips: Other Things to Consider for Your Survival Self-Care Toolbox

Painting with watercolors or tempera paints


Long, SUPER hot baths with luxurious bath salts.

Sitting in the sun

A really comfy bathrobe.

Reading a book


I genuinely hope you’re hanging in there. This mom burnout shit is real. As I was writing this post, and finishing this moment, a good friend of mine text me that she just almost broke down in tears because it’s all just too much.

It is. It really fucking is.

Hang in there, momma. You can do hard things.

Other Content from The DGAF Mom

Night Weaning Tips to Help You and Baby Finally Sleep Through the Night

How to Get More Sleep, Even With a Baby

The Ultimate Gift Guide for the Mom Who Has Everything

Gift Ideas for the Person Who Has Run out of F*cks

Gift Ideas for Kids Who Have Everything

Life-Changing Laundry Hacks to Handle Your Laundry Mountain for Good

How to Prepare To Go Back to Work After Baby

Mom Hacks to Help You Get More Shit Done

The Ultimate Guide to Formula Feeding Your Baby