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Are you struggling with mental burnout as a Mompreneur? Keep reading for some tips and tricks to help you recover and prevent it from happening again!
Do you ever struggle with mental burnout? You know, that feeling that you just can’t give your job anything else. The feeling when you’re ready to throw in the towel and call it quits.
It happens in every profession – teachers, doctors, retail workers, ministry workers – burnout is very real. And no profession is exempt.
There are times when the job feels like it’s too much.
Many people assume that when they start working for themselves as a freelancer, that they’ll avoid this struggle with mental burnout. Some people mistakenly believe that burnout is a result of their boss or their corporate culture, or any number of external forces.
And while those things can definitely impact feelings and emotions on the job, they are not the sole source of burnout.
How Mental Burnout as a Mompreneur Happens
Let’s look at the Mayo Clinic definition of burnout:
Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
Those can certainly still be around even if you’ve left your 9-5.
As a freelancer you have the ability to set your own hours. And that can be a beautiful way to create more flexibility in your life.
But, it also means that you can work on your business whenever you’d like. There is no boss asking you why in the world you’re reporting to work at 2:00 in the morning when you can’t sleep. Or staying at work way past your quitting time.
As a mom boss, there is no quitting time. Unless you set one.
There also aren’t any paid vacation days or holidays. You don’t get 12 magic days of paid personal time off each year. Or even five.
You are the overseer of your schedule. Which can be a tremendous blessing.
But, there is a downside. You can easily set yourself up for mental burnout.
This condition caught me off-guard. I wasn’t expecting it.
And yet suddenly I dreaded putting time into my business. I struggled to get posts done that would have come easily a couple of weeks before.
And honestly…I was ready to quit. I was so burned out, I couldn’t see a scenario where I kept my business AND kept my joy and sanity.
So, I stepped back for a season. I purposefully spent all of 2018 cutting way back. I didn’t take on nearly as many new projects. And I kept my client load really low, on purpose. I earned the bare minimum my family needed to keep our budget afloat.
I spent time reflecting on where I’d gone wrong. And as I reflected, I was able to identify some new ways to run my business. Ways that were more sustainable.
Since implementing these new strategies, I have been feeling much better about my business. I have joy about it again instead of just dread. And I’m even scaling again – having tripled my average monthly income for 2019 compared to 2018.
There is hope. So, if you’re struggling with burnout as a mompreneur, here are eight specific things you can do to help.
1. Establish Boundaries
This was my biggest mistake.
Running a business from home with kids means you get used to working in the margins of your life. You respond to emails when you get a few minutes.
You write your blog posts in pieces, as you find time.
And you get used to doing a little here and a little there.
Those small moments of time absolutely add up and you can do great things for your business.
But, they also have the potential to take over your whole life. If all you ever do when you have a few minutes is work on your business, you will never do the other things you need to do to have a balanced life.
And if your clients see that you don’t have boundaries, they may take advantage of that. And push you even more.
So, you need to do two things:
- Create boundaries with your clients
- Establish “off” times for your social media and email
The post linked to in number one will help with that. For number two, think about when you can set down your phone and not pull up your email or Facebook.
Then, tell your family about your new boundaries. I’ve found my middle aged kids (my seven-, nine-, and ten-year olds) are VERY good at letting me know when I’m violating one of my boundaries.
Which is good, because until your new boundaries become habit, it’s super easy to slip back into your old ways.
Remember you aren’t meant to work all the time.
Trying to do so is a sure-fire recipe for wanting to quit!
2. Schedule an Off Day or Two Each Week
One huge perk of being a freelancer is that you are responsible for working with clients to establish deadlines. You know about how long each should take. So make it a priority to give yourself enough of a buffer in your schedule that you can easily take a day or two off each week.
I work on scheduling so I don’t work on the weekends. Which means I keep Monday as my typical no due dates day.
Because if I have a post due on Monday, I’m probably going to spend time over the weekend writing it. That way I wouldn’t be putting it off until the last minute.
Now occasionally, I may still put in some time on the weekends. But, I’m doing so because I want to, not because I have to.
For instance, I’ve written a post on a Saturday night that wasn’t due until Tuesday because we had dentist appointments on Tuesday and I knew that day would be crazy.
So it was worth it for me to put in time on the weekend to have more time on the crazy day.
What can you shift around in your schedule to free up some time? Knowing that you have a day where you don’t HAVE to work is a huge mental relief.
And if you want to work when your off day comes around, you still can. You just don’t HAVE to.
But try not to. Read a book. Watch some television. Enjoy your family. Do something YOU enjoy.
Time without thinking about your business is truly a necessary ingredient to recovering from freelancer burnout.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is another area where many busy mompreneurs cut themselves short.
If you’ve fallen into this habit of not getting enough sleep, please know that it can negatively impact EVERY area of your life.
I know there are a million things on your to-do list. And that you’d rather do them than sleep.
But, if you don’t get enough sleep, all of tasks take WAY longer. Your brain doesn’t process things as quickly when you’re tired. And you’re prone to making stupid mistakes.
If you’re wondering what else sleep deprivation can do, check out this post from Medical News Today: Sleep deprivation really does impact your entire body!
When you constantly work without rest, your work will take longer and won’t be as high quality. Those are both terrible side effects!
So make sure you’re sleeping. When you’re exhausted and trying to work, all you want to do is go to bed (at least that’s how I feel). That means you’re more likely to experience the burnout feeling when you’re not giving sleep a priority.
Give yourself a set time at night to end your work. I’ve recently completely changed my schedule and I do the majority of my work now in the evenings, from about 9-11 pm.
Being able to focus on my work for this long has been huge in skyrocketing my productivity.
And I’ve learned through trial and error that 11 pm is the latest I can stay coherent and awake enough to work.
Discover what works for you. That might involve some trial and error. It might mean experimenting with different ways to work.
But, whatever you do, don’t stay up so late working that you lose the sleep you need to recharge.
Need help getting your evenings in order so you can get a better night’s sleep and know you will be ready for morning? I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evenings Course!
4. Avoid Procrastination
I started procrastinating back in middle school, so this habit has been ingrained for a long time! I’d wait until the morning bus ride to do the homework that was due that day.
I was on the bus for over an hour, so I usually made it, but it started a bad habit. It continued throughout high school. I’d wait to write my paper the night before it was due. (Once I was required to type assignments, I could no longer do them on the bus!)
I felt like I did my best work if I had the pressure of needing to get it done.
I still feel that way. There must be a hormone rush of some kind when dealing with a tight deadline, I don’t know.
But I feel it!
So now I give myself two deadlines for each of my client tasks. One is my deadline. It’s when I plan on actually sitting down and doing the assignment.
That’s usually a day or two before the actual due date.
I still get my procrastination pressure feeling, but I’m not actually procrastinating. If something were to come up, I’d still have a day or two to get it done.
And that’s a much better feeling.
5. Eliminate Unnecessary Work
Are there any tasks you do just because everyone else is doing them?
You don’t have to run your business like everyone else. You have to do what works for you.
Think through the tasks you’re doing. Are there any steps you can stop doing without directly impacting your bottom line?
For me it was Facebook and Twitter. When my plate was too full, I pulled way back in those areas. Now I have my posts automatically publish on those platforms and I don’t really engage.
Yes, it probably slowed the growth of my readership on my blogs.
But something had to go.
I’ll eventually pick it back up. Maybe.
Until then, I’m not going to stress about not doing any more than the basic sharing of my posts.
I’m much happier using Pinterest and Instagram – they both feel much more natural for me!
What can you let go of?
6. Schedule Time to Play
If you have kids, make sure you’re spending time playing with them. We have family play time everyday before quiet time. And then each kid gets a half hour of special time with me on their day.
It’s not a ton of time, but it allows us to come together and enjoy life. It’s a time to focus on being mom and not being mom-freelancer-farmer-va-lisa.
I like just being mom. I like taking off all the other hats for a while and purposefully enjoying my family. The kids like knowing that they get my attention at this regularly scheduled time.
If you’re wearing all of your hats all day long, you’re going to burnout. Your head wasn’t meant to wear that much for extended periods of time.
We might be able to do it all, but we can’t do it all all the time.
7. Get Outside
If you’re feeling mental burnout as a mompreneur, it may be time to head outside. Take the kids and walk around the block.
Or swing on the swings.
Just get some fresh air. It is rejuvenating. And helps you clear your mind.
If you’re struggling to find time, read this post:
Sometimes I even take my computer outside and sit in the sunshine to work. It is a fun way to get a change of scenery and some fresh air.
8. Tackle Priority Projects First
As a mom, my to-do list can be rather intimidating. There’s always something to teach, clean, accomplish.
So setting priorities is essential. I have to focus on what my must-dos are.
Then once those are accomplished, I can rest knowing that everything else can wait if it has to.
But, if I set priorities and then get sidetracked by a less essential work project, I end up feeling behind. Then I have to put in more hours to get done what I should have done first. It’s a nasty cycle to break.
So I make prioritizing a priority, and do essential tasks first.
How Do You Handle Mental Burnout as a Mompreneur?
If you’ve dealt with burnout and come through, what tips can you add? I’d love for you to share your comments.
And if you’re struggling, remember that taking care of yourself (including your mental health) is not selfish. You need to take care of you so you have energy and desire to pour into those around you.
This post was originally published in December of 2016. It’s been updated and refreshed.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.