Since I’ve recently written about work/life balance for people who work from home, and those who work outside the home, today I want to talk about something that may seem taboo due to some common stereotypes. I’m talking about the burnout stay-at-home parents (I’ll use the acronym SAHPs going forward) and homemakers may feel – especially during the lockdown.
A lot of the time, SAHPs and homemakers may feel like they are supposed to be exempt from feeling overwhelmed and stressed by their duties because they get to be home all day and for the most part, set their own schedule.
I know as a part-time homemaker myself, I can sometimes feel like my workday never ends – and I know this is true for a lot of SAHPs, too!
In this post, I’ll cover some of the common stressors that SAHPs and homemakers face. Since I don’t have human kids myself (unapologetic dog mom right here!) thanks to the help of a close friend, I was able to get some first-hand feedback to be able to share with you.
So, grab something delicious to sip and get comfy as you steal a few minutes for yourself and read on!
A Day in The Life…
Whether you’ve always been a SAHP or homemaker, or leaving the 9-5 behind was something you worked hard for – or, if like me, something brought upon by health concerns, the chances are that you’ve had some time to develop a routine for you and your family that helped manage the different areas of your life and create balance.
But then came COVID-19, and things got a little (ok – maybe a LOT) shaken up.
I know for me, for the first part of the lockdown, I had to adjust to my husband working at home with me. While I love his company, I had gotten used to my daily routine and being by myself without distractions all day. I suddenly found myself having to adjust to his usual work routine (which at the time started WAY earlier than mine), and it wasn’t always easy.
In talking to my SAHP friend, I learned that she shares in this experience of having her routine thrown off, too. And not just by her husband, but she’s got a kid at home who is now doing classes online. When I asked her how lockdown has changed things, she shared that “it feels like everything is out of balance. Before COVID-19, I was feeling balanced since my child was in school and my husband was at work – it gave me time to be alone and to develop a self-care routine.”
And it’s not just the routines being thrown off, either. For a lot of us – whether we stay at home or not – anxiety has become amplified.
“My general anxiety has gotten a lot worse, and I’m having more trouble sticking to a healthy number of calories than I was before the lockdown”, my friend shares. I know I can relate to that! I am relying on baking as a stress-reliever, and I’m eating more of these than I used to.
We also talked about some of the good things that having family at home with us can bring, like the motivation to meal-plan and spend more time outside together.
I know that having someone else to feed kept me from just grabbing junk I could eat while I work, and it did for my friend, too. She shared with me, “I had not paid much attention to what I ate during the day when I wasn’t feeding anyone but myself. I now prep cook healthy breakfast and lunch foods that I can grab and eat more easily than I could eat junk. That’s been very good for my health.”
Meal prepping for your family who is now home with you is just one great way to add some self-care for everyone and to not feel so burnt-out from your new routine. I dive into 10 more tips for you to try to combat stay-at-home burnout. But first…
The First Step to Overcoming a Problem is Admitting You Have One
It can be so hard for SAHPs and homemakers to admit when they feel out of balance or overwhelmed. I deal with this a lot, especially with having a chronic illness. I miss one chore or wake up one hour later, and somehow my whole day is thrown off and I feel like I can’t get it back in balance.
SAHPs are experiencing things like technology challenges as their kids head back to school online, as well as trying to keep them engaged with a screen for 8 hours a day, among the other challenges of having the kiddos with them all day.
It’s ok to not be ok right now…it’d be kind of weird if we were!
There are so many shifting circumstances right now, and it can feel like we’re expected to instantly adapt to each shift. This is hard under normal conditions, but with something as scary as a pandemic, it can be especially hard to do since we’ve barely got time in between things to deal with the varying emotions that we’re experiencing.
We’re practically living through a trauma that we can’t even begin processing yet.
And while the end is probably nowhere near, we can take a deep breath and acknowledge our discomfort, then look for constructive and effective ways to help ease a bit of it.
Below, you’ll find a list of 10 things you can do to help avoid getting burnt-out as a SAHP or homemaker during this pandemic. Some of these tips were graciously shared by my friend, and others are things I’ve implemented myself. Each tip is based on real-life experience, so you know it’s something that’s been done and has helped us – giving you more confidence that it can help you, too!
10 Ways to Avoid Burnout as a SAHP or Homemaker
- Nap when you need to
- This might not be so easy if your kiddos are at home & need your supervision, but even if you can only grab a few moments of rest while they do, it can make all the difference. I know for me, I used to avoid napping because I didn’t feel that it was “productive” – but now that I experience chronic fatigue and sleepiness with my illness, I know that sometimes a short snooze is EXACTLY what I need to be more productive.
- Don’t fret the housework so much – you’ll find your new routine eventually
- Whether your new routine is effected by kiddos or your significant other being home with you, or if it’s just out-of-whack because this pandemic has shaken everything up, you WILL find your groove again. Give yourself some grace on the days things don’t get done, and make room for flexibility so you can discover a new way of doing things that work for you.
- Try sleeping with earbuds in if nighttime anxiety is keeping you up
- This is a tip my friend shared, and I have to agree that it works! I also have night-time anxiety, and I just recently bought a pair of earbuds I can sleep in so I can play music or nature sounds to help give me something to focus on besides racing thoughts. I know that the majority of the advice is to keep your phone out of the bedroom, but this is something that helps both of us and is worth a try.
- Get fresh air & sunlight – go outside if you can (I keep repeating this for a reason – it seriously helps just about everything!)
- I know, this tip is literally on every self-care post I’ve made so far. I can’t stress the importance of being exposed to nature enough – it is seriously one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Get your whole household involved by taking a walk (if health/weather permits) after dinner or take the crafts/schoolwork outside. Steal a moment of mindfulness by watching nature from the window or practice deep breathing as you feel the breeze caress your skin. Allow yourself to get grounded by playing your (bare is best) feet on the earth for a few moments and you’ll be surprised at just how recharged this can help you feel!
- Try to get everyone on a daily routine
- This may be another one where you’re like “easier said than done”, and I hear you. But if you’re able to bear with the initial struggle, this can be a game-changer. Routines help everyone – especially during stressful times like these – by giving us a sense of stability and control. An easy routine might be as simple as getting up at the same time and having your meals at the same time every day.
- Make time for alone time
- Add this to your routine in whatever way is easiest for you. Maybe you get up a few minutes early to enjoy a solo cup of coffee, or maybe you get your significant other to watch the kiddos for 30 minutes in the evening while you do some self-care stuff just for you. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself to recharge your batteries, so make this a priority and relish in the difference it makes!
- Weave self-care into your daily routines
- Get everyone involved in self-care by purposefully including it in your daily routines. Maybe it’s some words of gratitude before meals, or a mid-afternoon dance or singing party. If you make self-care a habit for yourself, your family will pick up on it and be able to nurture themselves, too, helping EVERYONE feel more balanced.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Find other SAHPs or homemakers to socialize with & support each other. You could also come to hang out in my Facebook Group where we support each other on our personal growth journeys. Or, try asking your significant other to help with the chores or cooking. Schedule one night a week for you to be “off” if that’s an accessible option for you. There is no shame in needing help as a SAHP or homemaker – we all need a break sometimes!
- Remember: this is temporary
- Some days, this may be your saving grace. While this pandemic may continue to drag on, it IS temporary. Our discomfort, our struggles, our frustrations, or sorrow, and grief – none of it will last. Even without the pandemic, these things are not never-ending. So take a deep breath, shake it off, and as Anna from Frozen would say, “just do the next right thing”.
Remember: small, consistent effort is the best
As I mentioned in this previous post, it’s much better to do one small thing consistently than to try a whole bunch of different things at once and get so overwhelmed that you leave it all behind. So, take a deep breath and reflect on which of the tips above might help you the most. Start there, and once that becomes part of your daily routine without really thinking about it, try something new.
If you want some more ideas on how to add self-care to your day, plus some journal prompts and a tracker to help keep you motivated, check out the free eBook below!
Whatever you are struggling with and whatever you decide to do to add more ease into your days, know that you’re not alone and that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook for some support!
Until next time,