How to Avoid Parental Burnout as a New Mom

How to Avoid Parental Burnout as a New Mom

Many new mothers feel like they’re running on fumes—like they’re just one or two chores away from sputtering out. It’s a feeling that has only increased for parents since the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at Ohio University found that a staggering 66 percent of parents are experiencing parental burnout.

In this study, burnout was defined as a level of chronic stress and exhaustion that overwhelms a parent’s ability to cope and function. As you might expect, females were more likely than males to have parental burnout. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of females reported burnout versus 42% of males.

If you’re experiencing fatigue from being a mom, this post can help. In it, Alex & Thea explores four methods of increasing energy levels and reducing feelings of parental burnout.

  1. Take Short “Recovery” Breaks

As mothers, we often feel we need to spend every spare childless moment on something productive. But there will always be deadlines to hit, dishes to clean, and meals to prep. You need to take a real break.

Build a few 10-minute slots in your day when you can clock out of being a parent. Here are a few examples of good (and not-so-good) ways to spend a recovery break in order to get the most out of your time.


  • Check your email

  • Clean your house

  • Review your work calendar

  • Run errands

  • Scroll on social media

  • Watch television


  • Eat a healthy snack

  • Listen to music

  • Meditate

  • Sip coffee, tea, or cocoa

  • Talk to a friend or family member

  • Walk (ideally, outside)

Keep in mind that taking a break from your parental responsibilities, technology, and work may actually cause a temporary uptick in anxiety. However, it’s important to remind yourself that letting your mind and body relax for a moment is not only okay, but essential.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

If you feel like it’s hard to say “no,” you’re not alone. A 2019 study found that 3 in 5 people agree to accomplish more than they can actually do in the time they have available. Further, 1 in 3 say they always have more tasks than they can actually get done.

Being over-committed leads to stress, anxiety, and feelings of defeat. Therefore, breaking the habit of saying “yes” is vital to reducing parental burnout. Here’s how to limit your commitments:

  • Add everything to your calendar: Block out ample time for all of your tasks, from grocery shopping to yard work. If you don’t have another slot on your calendar, don’t commit to another task.

  • Re-prioritize your commitments regularly: Decide what is a must-do, should-do, and could-do. Knock out every must-do early in your day and plan each should and could-do in the afternoon and evening.

  • Break apart big tasks: Instead of adding “clean house” to your to-do list, add something like “vacuum living room” or “scrub shower.” When you break big tasks into smaller pieces, you’ll feel a greater sense of progress and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.

3. Complain the “Right” Way

Constantly complaining is not only unproductive, but it can also increase symptoms of depression. It’s one of the reasons why psychologists recommend creating a gratitude list, as it increases positive emotions.

However, a little complaining can go a long way. Research shows that it can actually foster deeper bonds within our social circles and help us process stress and frustration.

In order to complain the “right” way, you need to know that there are basically three ways to blow off stream:

  • Vent

  • Problem solve

  • Ruminate (dwell)

Venting to people allows them to know how you feel. This practice is essential to reducing parental burnout. Using humor during the venting phase can be especially helpful. Ultimately, blowing off some steam can lead to increased happiness and the generation of potential solutions to your problems.

However, it’s unhealthy and energy-draining to obsess over problems. Unfortunately, the more you ruminate, the more it becomes your default communication method.

Basically, the best plan of attack is to let people know how you feel through venting and then collaborating with them on a solution. This communication can occur between you and a family member, friend, or counselor/therapist.

4. Nourish the Mind and Body

Eating clean, exercising, and practicing mindfulness can make a massive difference in how you experience parental burnout. While a sweet treat and salty snack can provide some relief here and there, you’ll want to do your best to avoid foods that make you crash, such as:

  • White bread

  • Cereal

  • Alcohol

  • Sugary or artificial sweetened coffee

  • Energy drinks

  • Fried food

Essentially, anything packed with sugar (and artificial sweeteners), seed oils, and processed carbohydrates will result in a hard crash. Instead, opt for foods with high protein, fat, and fiber. You’ll feel better and have more energy.

Next, get your body moving. Daily exercise doesn’t require special equipment or even that much time. If you’re feeling wiped out and over-committed, keep your fitness routine simple. Just walk.

Researchers at the University of Georgia found that inactive people who commonly complained of fatigue could increase energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by as much as 65 percent by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise. Yes, walking counts as low-intensity exercise!

Lastly, find a mindfulness strategy that works for you. Whether you try a breathing exercise or start a gratitude journal, a growing body of research shows that mindfulness can help with anxiety, stress, and depression.

The Right Tools for the Job

Being a new working mom is challenging. The demands often feel like they’re stacking up faster than you can take care of them. Avoid parental burnout by taking regular breaks, reducing your commitments, letting people know how you feel, and nourishing your mind and body.

Furthermore, make sure you have the right tools for the job. At Alex & Thea, we have designed a collection of products that simplify parenting. Join our newsletter to be alerted as soon as our bags and accessories launch!

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