What do you think of when I say the word balance? Do you picture the perfect system or a schedule that FINALLY makes motherhood feel balanced? What we experience in motherhood is a season that is constantly anything but sturdy. Avoiding mom burnout looks more like BEING balanced than FINDING balance. We don’t need to balance what is outside ourselves. We need to find strength and balance internally. Then, we can learn to stay upright in a season where the ground beneath us is constantly shifting. Moms need to learn to adjust, shift, and move as we keep ourselves from falling. And then learn to get back up when we do fall. Like learning to ride a bike- we need to find a way to enjoy a season that is about as reliable as a bike staying upright on its own.
Balance as an Action vs. a State of Life
When we think balance is a state we can find or achieve, we think we are failing. What if feeling unsteady and taking falls is part of it? Have you tried to balance motherhood and then it gets thrown off course just when you find your feet? For example, the baby hits a sleep regression, work gets busy or more stressful, your kid enters a new stage of mental development, you experience unexpected grief (or joy), or maybe your kids get sent home for spring break, and then they never go back. Then a pandemic hits. Just when you find your state of balance, everything shifts and mom burnout hits hard. Moms get burnt out when we think we can fix or prevent the unsteady and hard of life. We get burnt out when we try to prevent stress instead of learning to cope and manage it.
We need a different goal, not just in the season of parenting, but in life. Instead of waiting for “someday” when we find this state of balance, we need it today. Someday when the baby sleeps through the night, someday when the kids are in school, someday WHEN. We need INTERNAL balance and we need it now because mommas are burned out. Moms need to learn to shift and adjust WITH our life, not against it.
Internal Balance Keeps us steady, Even in Unsteady Seasons
Moms need this internal balance in the same way we need physical balance. When you have physical balance, you can move through life with less chance of injury. You are able to recover and steady yourself even if you are on unsteady surfaces. Physical balance is a dynamic state like when you ride a bike. When you first start to learn to ride a bike, you make large jerky movements. But as you gain internal balance you are able to make smaller, more smooth moves to keep yourself upright, even on an object that ISN’T balanced. Much like physical balance is a skill we can learn, so is this internal balance in motherhood. Internal balance helps us stay steady and keep moving forward even when life is anything but sturdy.
There are 3 ways we can learn this kind of balance as moms so that we don’t burnout:
- Intentional Support
- Learn to fall
- Build Core strength (internal strength)
How to find your new sense of balance in motherhood:
Have you ever seen people learn to walk the tight rope or do trapeze? They don’t do it solo. They strap into a secure harness that will catch and hold them to something steady when they fall. Not if they fall, but when they fall. Not only that but they have a large net underneath them. Momma, you need this. I know that not everyone has this in their family or friends. But I want to remind you that the support those tight rope walkers have is INTENTIONAL. It didn’t just appear or happen. They asked for it, they chose it, and then they went and got it. I have been finding the same to be true for me. I have to ask for help. Seek out communities, support groups, and mentors. Who can help you not just when you succeed, but when you inevitably fall?
Find a community of friends who can catch you. Find a specific support person who you can align yourself to so that when you fall, they can help you get back up. Being a part of an intentional community where there is a system will give you the support you need when you fall.
Learn to Fall and get Back up
Falling is part of the balance. It’s part of riding a bike and it’s a part of motherhood. A big part of it. Every season of motherhood has brought new joys and new struggles where I find myself off balance and struggling to stay steady. For a long time I tried and worked so hard to avoid falling which lead me to burnout quickly, and often. Now, my focus is on getting back up when I fall, righting myself to center, and getting back on the bike.
Have you ever considered that facing mom burnout is part of finding your balance? So often, when we are experiencing stress or grief, we don’t allow ourselves to move all the way through it. We try to avoid stress or pain and in the process get stuck in it. Learn to move through stress and hard feelings and you will notice that even through hard things, you won’t experience the same mom burnout. Brené Brown has some awesome podcasts about this. Her most recent one about burnout and how to complete the stress cycle here.
Building Inner Strength and Balance
Building inner strength and balance is one of the best ways to prevent burnout. You can call this personal growth, self-improvement, or spiritual journey, any of them lead you to find who you are (your personal center). Thought work, mindfulness, and personality tools (like the Enneagram) helped me to find my inner balance as a mom. Once I knew who I was and saw my struggles and strengths clearly, I started to make those small adjustments versus trying to make giant massive changes and then crashing. Do intentional work to grow and heal who you are emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Muscle is built through work. It is built through repeating things over and over and putting ourselves under intentional, safe, and purposeful strain and effort. Sometimes you are not experiencing burnout, but massive internal growth.
When we intentionally start to find our center and internal balance, we start to learn to flow with our lives. When we find this inner balance we avoid the massive burnout we often accept as a part of parenting. Small burnouts happen. It’s part of riding a bike and growing and living intentionally. Burnout doesn’t come from a life unbalanced, but our ability to flow and adapt with it.
Are you feeling burnt out? Start with intentionally finding your center each morning. Take some time to find YOUR internal balance. Make some time for journaling to reflect on what small movement will help you stay upright or get you back up after you are down. You can find some journal prompts to help you find YOUR balance each day which includes that intentional support here.
Having a goal can help you keep a steady focus while balancing. Becoming goal and solution-oriented can help you learn to steady yourself. Just like looking at something unsteady and straight ahead, goals help us stay balanced. For more help with this you can read more here.