Preventing Caregiver Burnout(Guest Post)
Recognizing burnout and what to do about it is very important. Prior to becoming a mother, I knew that parenting would be a challenge, but I underestimated just how challenging it really is. Early on I found myself stuck in the routine of being a wife and mother and neglecting myself. I quickly found that I was physically and emotionally exhausted, with no end in sight.
By profession, I am a licensed therapist. Part of my job is educating and encouraging others to practice self-care. I never imagined that I would be struggling with this concept because I know how critical it is to a person’s overall health. Needless to say, in the beginning, I failed.
The turning point for me was when my uncle took me to lunch and made me leave my baby behind. At the time I thought I had it together, but looking back, I was close to falling apart. My uncle clearly saw something in me that I thought I was hiding. I was tired and second guessing my choice of becoming a mother.
Taking Care of Yourself
The beautiful side of motherhood is what we see online. It’s rare that I see a social media post that shows the opposite side.
During my early days, I would have loved to come across a post that helped me to know that I wasn’t alone or crazy and that some of my thoughts were normal. The one thing I learned is that it does get better and that taking time for myself became crucial part of my daily routine.
The Importance of Self Care
Being a parent is a very rewarding experience, but I had to learn that, in order to be a more effective parent, I also have to take care of myself. If I am not 100%, then my ability to care for others will suffer.
A half functioning caregiver is no good to anyone. Self-care is the one way to significantly decrease the chances that you will not experience caregiver burnout.
What is self-care?
Self-care is simply doing something that helps you to relax and makes you feel good. Self-care can be something as little as sitting in silence for five minutes or as big as going on a vacation. The most important thing to remember is to take time to get into a self-care routine in order to prevent caregiver burnout.
As a working mom, 24 hours just does not seem like enough time to get my never ending to-do list complete. So I often find myself asking, when the heck am I supposed to incorporate self-care into my daily routine?
My self-care routine is always evolving and I am nowhere near perfect. I have made a commitment to myself to incorporate daily self-care practices so I can be the best wife and mother for my family.
Ideas for self care
Daily self-care practices are simple things I try to do every day, that do not take too much time to complete. I can commit anywhere from 5 minutes to one hour to these practices daily. It is my mental break and allows me to only care about myself for short periods of time. Some of my daily practices include:
- mindfulness exercises
- Hot showers
- Deep breathing
- Walking the dog
- Watching a favorite tv show
- Listening to music
- Sitting in silence
- Utilizing essential oils
- Cooking (it’s relaxing to me)
Honorable mentions (things I have thought about doing, but have yet incorporated into my self-care routine):
- Long bath
- Cleaning (organized environment can help you to feel less stressed. It’s relaxing for some, not me).
- Having a glass of wine (this should be done with caution and probably not daily.)
In addition to the daily self-care tasks, I also plan self-care time away from the baby, and/or outside of my house. I love my time with my baby, but it’s absolutely necessary for my, me time. Some of my favorite things to do on self-care days (or hours) include:
- Getting my hair done
- Shopping alone
- Going for a drive
- Attending a local event
- Going to dinner
- Taking a day off and doing absolutely nothing!
- Going on a vacation (of course this does not happen nearly as much as I like!)
- getting a massage
- Going to the movies
- Spending time with friends
- Enjoying a hobby
Do you have a Support System?
Support system to help with the journey through motherhood is also a form of self care. If I did not have my support system, I know that I would not have made it through the early days of being a new parent.
If you are in a position where you don’t have a support system, utilizing social media groups, local parenting groups, or attending local children’s events are ways that you can build your support system. Sometimes talking to someone who gets it can make the stressful days go by a little quicker.
Taking the time to do something for yourself, can mean the difference between being an effective parent or just barely making it. Making the commitment to take care of yourself is important to ensure that you are able to remain mentally and physically healthy, and that you are able continue to be a positive caregiver for your family.
Tiana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, wife, new Mom, and blogger. After becoming a mother, Tiana realized the imperative role that self-care and a positive support network is to new parents. Tiana writes about learning to balance motherhood and career while maintaining your sense of self. You can find her at