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Mental energy isn’t available in an unlimited supply. Your brain only has so much focus power available. And as it starts to run out, you’re at definite risk for mental burnout.
As a mompreneur, you’ve got a ton of balls in the air. You’re trying to take care of your kids, manage your home, and grow your business. All at the same time, while also juggling time with your spouse, an occasional meeting with a friend, and extended family commitments.
And at times, all of your responsibilities just seem like to much.
This leads to feeling overwhelmed, and if you keep going, burnout.
But, it doesn’t have to. You can learn to recognize the warning signs and take steps to preserve your mental energy.
Warning Signs of Mental Overload
Everyone is different, so you may experience different symptoms when your mental energy is running low. Here are some that I’ve noticed:
- Short tempered/grumpy
- Foggy brain
- Difficult time making decisions
- Lack of focus/moving rapidly from one task to another without actually accomplishing anything
- Start thinking about all the things I have to do and get paralyzed into doing nothing
- Not caring
- Trouble sleeping/can’t shut the brain off
Being stressed isn’t healthy. It certainly won’t help you accomplish everything you want to do.
So, let’s talk about how to slow down and keep your brain from going into overdrive.
Here are five strategies I use to help prevent mental burnout.
1. Premake Decisions
When you’re constantly making decisions, you will never give your poor brain a rest.
It’ll rapidly be moving between decisions, trying to analyze all the options available and decide (at that exact moment) which one is best.
You know things like:
- When should I work on my blog?
- What chores need done today to keep my house from imploding?
- How long does that recipe I’m making for dinner need to cook?
- Wow, the kids are being really good right now. What should I do for the next five minutes?
- Does my theme need updated?
- Why don’t I have more page views? Would it help if I did x,y, or z?
And if those sorts of questions that are always there weren’t enough, you’ve got even more on your plate because you’re a mompreneur.
That means you aren’t just dealing with your own questions . You’re constantly fielding ones like these from your kids:
- Can I have a snack?
- Can I watch a movie?
- When do we get to go to the park?
- What’s for dinner?
- I’m bored, what can I do?
- Can I play on your phone?
- Why is it raining? Can I go jump in all the mud puddles?
The questions. The decisions that need made. No wonder there were days when I felt like I literally did nothing. I could spend all day thinking and analyzing and making decisions. But then I used up all my available time.
So I did what I had to do to maintain my sanity. I started premaking as many decisions as possible.
Decisions I’ve Premade
I came up with four times of the day I can use to grow my blog. Now I don’t have to wonder when I’ll find time.
And I made a list of tasks that take 5, 10, or 15 minutes to accomplish. That way when I have time, I pull out my list and pick something. No more trying to figure out what needs done.
I made a meal plan and a chore chart. I’ve even made a seating chart occasionally, when my kids keep arguing about whose turn it is to sit where.
I planned out many homeschooling decisions in advance and make a doable routine for us to follow.
I worked with each of my kids to make a list of tasks they can do each quiet time or free time.
Now when they have time, I don’t have to listen to the “what should I do?” questions. I just point them to the list and tell them to pick something.
I put a lot of the small decisions back on my kids. They’re learning responsibility and time management, and I’m freeing up my brain.
Each morning, I premake even more decisions. I look at the calendar to see what’s due or happening. Then, the kids and I have a plan of the day.
By keeping everyone in the loop, we’re all working towards the same goals. We know what needs accomplished each day.
And it’s helped so much!
Someday I may have time to make more last-minute decisions. But during this season of life, I really appreciate having them premade.
Want to learn more about premaking decision? Check out my course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines. You’ll find over 30 lessons designed to help you minimize your decisions and maximize your productivity as a busy mom!
2. Don’t Cast Today’s Worries on Tomorrow
When my oldest son was one, he was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome along with a host of other problems. One of those was failure to thrive.
At the time, he couldn’t successfully drink liquid by mouth. Instead of going into his stomach like it was supposed to, it went into his lungs instead.
So, he got a G-tube. And all of his meals went through there.
And I started worrying.
I spent so much time trying to figure out how we’d handle travel with him hooked up to a pump for his feedings. And how we’d keep him from pulling out the tubes as he got stronger.
I just knew we’d be lugging this pump, IV stand, and tubing around forever. And I couldn’t even imagine what life would look like, no matter how hard I tried to figure it out.
Well, guess what? Within a few years, he completely outgrew his need for tube feeds. So all my time spent worrying was really just wasted.
I took a problem I was dealing with, and reflected it out across all of my tomorrows. I assumed that this was how life was always going to be.
But, I was wrong.
And this wasn’t the only situation where I wasted time worrying. I’ve done it with my business frequently.
I’ll be struggling to get my early morning work time in because of late nights with the kids. So I’ll start fretting about how I’ll never have enough time for my business. How I’ll never be able to work in the early mornings again.
And you know what? Eventually my mornings come back.
Each season of life has its own struggles. We’ll always be dealing with something.
But, it’s absolutely not a good idea to decide THIS is how life is always going to be.
Those struggles you’re dealing with right now? Most probably won’t be an issue a year from now.
Of course new ones will take their place.
But you can’t sit and worry about what you’ll be facing then.
You don’t know what tomorrow holds. Only God does. And, He also gives us the strength for each day to make it through.
When I stop worrying, and cast all my worries to God, He helps me tremendously. It’s a huge mental relief, because I’m not carrying all the weight anymore.
3. Know Your Limits
There is no such thing as Supermom. You cannot do it all!
And if you try, you’re going to regret it. Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way that I have limits and that I need to respect those limits. Otherwise, it isn’t good.
When I try to do too much, I typically fail at almost everything I’m attempting. Or I push myself way too far to get everything done.
When I feel like I must stay up way too late and get up super early to try to get everything done, my to-do list has gotten out of control.
So, I pay attention to deadlines. I try not to have too much client work due on any one day. This way if everything gets out of control, I still have a manageable amount.
I also put my own work on my calendar, and treat myself as a client. Otherwise my blog would never get updated.
I’ve kept our homeschool at a manageable load. Yes, I’d love to take all sorts of fun art and music classes with my kids, or find a PE group to be a part of. But, living in the middle of nowhere means we’d have a drive for everything. This means it’s not realistic for this season of life.
I purposefully say no to some things so I can have time to do the things that are most important.
Part of knowing your limits also means establishing boundaries. For instance, my clients know that while I may occasionally answer an email on a weekend, I don’t typically work weekends.I need this time to focus on my family.
So establish limits with your clients, and if they are too needy to respect your boundaries, it’s time to find new clients. Not every client is worth taking on.
Sit down and think realistically about your limits. What are you honestly able to take on at this season of life?
I won’t have this few of clients forever. Someday, I”ll have more time to dedicate to my business and then I’ll grow even faster.
But for now?
I have a lot on my plate already and I know what additional work I can take on. If I can’t do it, I’ll turn the job down instead of agreeing to do something I already know I can’t do.
4. Be You – Not Someone Else
There are so many experts out there trying to tell you the “right way” to do everything.
According to them, I should email my list WAY more often. Especially during a cool affiliate sale opportunity.
And I should spend tons of time on social media every day.
It’s not just blogging either. There are experts in every area of life. Those dedicating way more of their time to homeschooling telling me about all the fascinating projects my kids are missing out on if I don’t do with them.
And homesteading bloggers telling me all about their amazing gardens and perfectly trained free-range chickens who would never dream of pooping on the porch.
And all the while I’m over here going:
- I hate reading all these emails about the same sale. Why should I send out even more shout outs to my readers (who are really busy moms as well)? Who has time to even write those emails, let alone read them?
- I don’t think posting five times a day to Facebook and ten times to Twitter is going to work right now. Besides, what would I say?
- Those projects look way cool and my kids would love them, but my kid with Pica would just eat them.
- My garden? It got turned into a playground for the kids because I couldn’t keep up with it. And my chickens? They free-range alright, and for some reason they LOVE pooping all over the porch so I’m spraying it off with the hose all summer long.
Here’s the thing.
Those experts don’t know a thing about me or my life. And while what they’re doing works for them, it doesn’t work for me right now.
So, I’m picking and choosing who I listen to. I’m learning to be true to myself, instead of trying to make myself fit in the mold the experts carved. Even if that means I’m growing my business at a slower pace and missing out on all sorts of money-making opportunities.
We all are walking our own path. Do you, don’t try to copy an expert. You’ll just succeed in stressing yourself out, because you have a completely different life than they do.
What they are doing works for them. But that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect prescription for everyone forever and ever.
5. Relax and Recharge
In my opinion, this is the single best way to prevent mental burnout. It’s also the one I struggle with the most.
You’ve got to give yourself permission to take a break. You can’t be working all the time.
As a mompreneur, this is hard. Technology makes it possible for us to ALWAYS be able to do something to grow our business. We can always use the phone to handle social media. Or answer an email. We can jump online to check our stats whenever we want.
And we don’t have “business hours” like we did in traditional jobs. There’s no sick leave, or paid vacation.
It’s just you and perhaps a team member or two. Which means overworking yourself is a very real possibility.
But, it’s not healthy. You will do much better work if you take time to relax and recharge.
So do what you have to to make it happen. I’ve decided not to do much on the weekends. I do a little social media work in the mornings before the kids wake up, just because it’s something I enjoy. But I make it a point to put the phone down and walk away.
Sit down in the evenings and watch an episode of a favorite show with your spouse.
Pop some popcorn and enjoy a family movie night.
Bring out some board games and play with your kids.
Take a long bath while listening to relaxing music.
Whatever you do to feel recharged, do it. Without being connected.
Shut the business part of your mind off for a little while each day, and at least part of each weekend. When you come back to it, your creativity and speed will be running at full gear again.
What Do You Do To Avoid Mental Burnout?
I’d love to hear what tips you’d add in the comments.