Top tips to avoid feeling burnt out that every busy working mum should know

Being a working mum may be the best job you’ll ever get, but it can be hard, sometimes…ok a lot of the time! You’re on call 24/7, and when you go on annual leave, you still have the same responsibilities.

And if you have a home business or work at home job, life can be even more challenging. But you wouldn’t change it for the world, would you?

So exactly how do you cope with the mixed bag that being a working mum makes you carry? Here are some tips to avoid burnout that every working mum should know:

Stop it dead in its tracks
Superwoman had a cape – you don’t. She could also isn’t real – you are, so don’t overfill your schedule with activities for the kids or yourself to the point where you don’t have any time to enjoy what you’re doing. Be sure to take out a little time for yourself every day when you can down tools and just relax a little.

Whether this may be during the kids’ naps or when they’re in school, even taking just a few minutes for you can really help to clear your head.

Plan and cook meals in advance
There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work and having to cook a family meal. Why put yourself through that when you can batch cook? Doing the prep work beforehand will mean that you only need to pop the food into the microwave and have it ready in a few minutes. This will help combat some of the tiredness and your children won’t be moaning about how they’ve been waiting for ages for the food to be ready.

Make sure your expectations and those of your family are realistic
For mums who work from home, it’s important that your family understand that you actually work from home and don’t just spend the day pottering at home watching daytime TV.

If you’re running a home business or have a work at home job, you can’t be expected to keep as perfect a house as a mother who does not – but you can schedule some housework in so you can keep things ticking over. Pick a day to do the laundry, the hoovering and other housework that doesn’t need to be done on a daily basis and leave it until then…unless the urgent need arises, of course.

Getting upset doesn’t make you a bad parent
Feeling upset and tired doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. When you get angry, don’t consider yourself an imperfect or bad parent. What’s more important is how you react to the anger and that you talk through your feelings with those who run into you when you vent your anger.

Get enough sleep
The more tired you are, the more stressed you’ll feel, and the harder it will be to cope with the demands of being a working mum. Don’t burn the candle at both ends every day of the week, trying to stay on top of things if it means you’re burning yourself out.

You’re not going to be very productive at work if you’re constantly tired, and you’ll alienate your family if you spend your time snapping at them for every little thing they do. Get some sleep without the guilt to recharge your batteries and start again tomorrow.

Plan fun activities once in a while to relieve stress
Depending on your needs and the needs of your family, this can be alone or with the entire family. Go to the local park and swing along we the kids, or go on the slides and let your hair down. Or go for a meal at a family friendly restaurant. Whatever you choose, plan to enjoy yourself and really get stuck into it.

It’s easy to give your children healthy snacks if you have sliced vegetables and/or fruits ready to go in the fridge. A few minutes’ work early in the week can save you time. It also means you can pack food for lunch, saving you money at the same time.

Stop tying to keep up with the Jones’ and the Smiths
If writing out your timetable helps you, then keep a written timetable of what you need to do when. If it makes you feel overwhelmed, then don’t. Just because your best friend says it keeps her on schedule to have a calendar with everything she needs to do on it doesn’t mean the same will work for you.

You owe nothing
Try not to let other parents make you feel you owe them favours just because you’re at home and “have time”. You’re doing a full-time job taking care of your family, not just loafing around. Your schedule may be just as full as theirs, if not more so.

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Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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