Exhausted Mothers, It's Not Your Fault that You Feel Like This (2023)

I felt like that, too. I was head over heels in love with my daughters, but that didn’t protect me. I had been so determined to be the best mother I could be that I dedicated myself to the job beyond reason and became exhausted and depleted in the process. I wondered if perhaps I was a bad mother. But actually, I am surprised nearly all mothers don’t suffer like this. Here’s why it’s not our fault.

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  1. Motherhood is tough This is the hardest job I have ever had. Heaven and hell at the same time. Frequent interruptions, lack of control over the agenda, constantly switching tasks, too much to do, emotional outbursts, no holidays — all when while I’m sleep-deprived.
  2. No previous training What kind of employer would expect you to do everything from day one with no training, especially when someone else’s life and well-being depends on you?
  3. The village it takes to raise a child looks more like a ghost town Most of us raise our children almost on our own these days. In traditional societies it really was the whole village that got involved. I also made the mistake of not reaching out for support until I was completely spent.
  4. We put ourselves last Self-care? What is that? I didn’t keep sight of my own needs — they slipped out of my awareness. Self-sacrifice was the name of the game. But this is a recipe for becoming overwhelmed. We have to put our oxygen mask on first before we can be of any use to our children. What do you need right now?
  5. Our brains have a negativity bias As a psychologist, I knew this, but forgot to apply it to motherhood. Because it was more important for our survival in caveman days to notice the lion that wants to eat us for lunch and let the positive slip by, we are wired to notice the risks.Now that we are safe, our brain still notices possible problems more easily than what is going right, and so we worry and get stuck there. And we miss the good stuff, like our baby’s smiles and how good the sun feels on our backs. We have to choose to turn toward these moments to notice them and let them balance the scales. Mindfulness helped me start doing this again.
  6. We judge ourselves I had wildly unrealistic expectations of myself and was hard on myself when I didn’t deliver. Hindsight brought me this awareness, but back when I needed kindness from myself, my inner critic kept telling me to soldier on. Stopping to pause and deliberately cultivate this kind relationship with myself was a skill I learned to practice daily and it has gradually changed my life.
  7. No off switch It’s great to care deeply about our children. We must. But for me, caring translated into no off switch and everything else you read here. Turning the love I felt for my children toward myself soothed my weary heart and started to fill it back up again as a much-needed resource for the marathon of motherhood.
  8. We lose other parts of ourselves Motherhood is all-consuming. There are parts of who we were before we had children that get lost. I voluntarily stopped work and embraced motherhood wholeheartedly. Partway down the track I felt like I had lost who I was professionally, financially, romantically, as a friend and just me. I felt like I had less value in society’s eyes because I only contributed within my own family. It took time to get back a fuller sense of myself.Making time for things other than motherhood seems unrealistic at some stages, but getting support to be with your partner and friends, do things you love, and be something other than a mom is restorative.
  9. We’re depleted Over time, mothers become physically, emotionally and mentally drained of nutrients, strength and vitality. Psychologist Rick Hanson coined the phrase “depleted mother syndrome” and emphasizes how important it is to regain the strength we need to be there for ourselves and to manage our care-giving role.
  10. We get stuck in the negative spiral All of this adds up to almost-inevitable exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and poor health. There is a positive spiral of well-being, but we have to take the first step, for our sake as well as our children. Children need warm, affectionate and engaged parents. How can we possibly sustain that over the marathon of motherhood unless we also look after ourselves?
  11. We have forgotten how to be still We have to turn away from the busyness of the world for a while. Our culture glorifies busyness, but we must make a different choice. What is more important — your well-being or your to-do list? For me, this is a daily choice and it takes determination not to slip back into the frenetic “doing” so I can leave room for “being” and “connecting.” There will always be things not finished.

Don’t do it alone. When I relaxed enough to realize how exhausted I was, I reached out for help, crawled back into the driver’s seat of my own well-being, and made more time for mindfulness, kindness and rest. It got easier. The fun came back, a bit at a time. Now the waves don’t knock me over. There may be churning waters on the surface, but underneath is a calm that I can access more easily now.

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Why are moms always exhausted? ›

Mommy fatigue is a form of exhaustion that occurs as a result of feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed by parenting. An exhausted mom often experiences fears related to not being good enough, relinquishing control, and losing her sense of self.

What is depleted mom syndrome? ›

We're depleted Over time, mothers become physically, emotionally and mentally drained of nutrients, strength and vitality. Psychologist Rick Hanson coined the phrase “depleted mother syndrome” and emphasizes how important it is to regain the strength we need to be there for ourselves and to manage our care-giving role.

Is it okay to be tired of being a mom? ›

Feeling tired of being a mom is absolutely normal. I feel it, other moms feel it, and we're most likely going to feel it again and again throughout our entire lives as moms. It's the toughest job in the world, so please don't be too hard on yourself.

What do you say to an overwhelmed mother? ›

Texts To Offer Help
  • I know things are stressful right now and I want to help. ...
  • What can I do to help you?
  • Please let me know what I can do for you today.
  • I'm at the grocery store right now. ...
  • Let me know if you need help finding a therapist. ...
  • You've got so much on your plate.
May 27, 2021

What are the most exhausting years of parenting? ›

In fact, age 8 is so tough that the majority of the 2,000 parents who responded to the 2020 survey agreed that it was the hardest year, while age 6 was better than expected and age 7 produced the most intense tantrums.

Why is my elderly mother so tired all the time? ›

Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Untreated pain and diseases like fibromyalgia. Anemia. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

How do I stop being an exhausted parent? ›

What can you do to cope with parental burnout?
  1. Talk with your spouse, co-parent, or partner. ...
  2. Get enough sleep. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Rest, if and when you can. ...
  5. Build a support network. ...
  6. Be patient with yourself. ...
  7. Practice self-care.
Oct 29, 2021

What are the signs of exhaustion? ›

Symptoms of fatigue
  • chronic tiredness or sleepiness.
  • headache.
  • dizziness.
  • sore or aching muscles.
  • muscle weakness.
  • slowed reflexes and responses.
  • impaired decision-making and judgement.
  • moodiness, such as irritability.

What is unloved daughter syndrome? ›

With an emotionally unreliable mother or one who is combative or hypercritical, the daughter learns that relationships are unstable and dangerous, and that trust is ephemeral and can't be relied on. Unloved daughters have trouble trusting in all relationships but especially friendship.

What does an emotionally unavailable mother look like? ›

Signs that your parent is emotionally unavailable

They respond to children's emotions with impatience or indifference. They avoid or prevent discussion of negative emotions. They're dismissive or overwhelmed when the child has an emotional need.

What does an emotionally absent mother look like? ›

“An emotionally absent mother is not fully present and especially not to the emotional life of the child. She may be depressed, stretched too thin and exhausted, or perhaps a bit numb. Many of these mothers were severely undermothered themselves and have no idea what a close parent-child relationship looks like.

Why Being a parent is exhausting? ›


Young babies need almost-constant care: They need to be fed every couple of hours; they wake up multiple times per night (making a good night's sleep a thing of the past for you); and they may require specific (and bizarre) rituals to get them to eat, stop crying, or fall asleep.

Why do I always feel like I'm failing as a mom? ›

One of the reasons that explains why mothers struggle so much and feel like such parenting failures is because they have what researchers refer to as a need for “intensive motherhood”. In other words, mothers put tremendous pressure on themselves because of feelings of guilt about not being able to “do it all”.

What is a good age to be a mom? ›

Experts say the best time to get pregnant is between your late 20s and early 30s. This age range is associated with the best outcomes for both you and your baby. One study pinpointed the ideal age to give birth to a first child as 30.5.

How do you let go of mother issues? ›

Steps for healing from the mother wound
  1. Express the pain. The first step is letting yourself say, “Ouch” — and more — if you need to. ...
  2. Love yourself. Our concept of self was built through the way our mother interacted with us. ...
  3. Develop self-awareness. ...
  4. Parent yourself. ...
  5. Forgiveness.
Sep 29, 2020

What moms want to hear? ›

  • You are raising good people. ...
  • Your child is a delight. ...
  • You are actually totally cool. ...
  • You are loved. ...
  • You are not alone. ...
  • You've given up a lot, and it's worth it. ...
  • You have your whole life to work but your kids are only young for so long. ...
  • Being different from your kids is okay.
May 15, 2017

How do you deal with an emotional mother? ›

  1. Read books that provide strategies. ...
  2. Respond, don't react, and set appropriate boundaries. ...
  3. Recognize that she may not have the capacity to change. ...
  4. Have compassion for yourself and look for other supportive, nurturing relationships. ...
  5. Look at what you learned from her, both the positive and the negative.
Sep 18, 2021

What is the most harmful parenting style? ›

Psychologists and experts agree that kids with an uninvolved or neglectful parent generally have the most negative outcomes. A neglectful mother is not simply a parent who gives a child more freedom or less face-time. Negligent parents neglect their other duties as parents, too.

At what age do you stop parenting your child? ›

Parental obligations typically end when a child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in most states. However, check the laws of your state, as the age of majority can be different from one state to the next.

What is the most successful parenting style? ›

Why experts agree authoritative parenting is the most effective style. Studies have found that authoritative parents are more likely to raise confident kids who achieve academic success, have better social skills and are more capable at problem-solving.

Why does my 91 year old mother sleep all the time? ›

Boredom, depression, chronic pain and/or nutritional deficiencies can be some of the underlying causes that account for excessive daytime sleeping. Medications can also be a problem.

What time should a 70 year old go to bed? ›

According to their internal body clock, most older adults need to go to sleep around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. Many people fight their natural inclination to sleep and choose to go to bed several hours later instead.

Why does a 67 year old woman feel tired all the time? ›

Fatigue in older adults sometimes occurs as a result of chronic pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic conditions. Your body may tire itself out from trying to manage the pain or inflammation, and living with chronic pain can also lead to mental or emotional fatigue.

How do you deal with an emotionally draining parent? ›

Here's what they had to say.
  1. First, determine whether your parents are *actually* toxic. ...
  2. Understand that typical boundaries are disrupted when dealing with toxic parents. ...
  3. So, how do you deal? ...
  4. Have a plan of action and a support system you can rely on. ...
  5. Remember to give yourself permission to say “no”

What do you do when your tired of your family? ›

If you are experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or other symptoms as a result of your dislike for your family, reach out to a professional for help. You might start by talking to a mental health professional who can help. Online therapy can also be a helpful option that you might want to consider.

How do you deal with constant negativity from parents? ›

How to Deal With a Negative Parent
  1. Consider whether this is a new problem. If it is, there could be a medical reason for this change in personality. ...
  2. Accept that negative behavior is not your fault. ...
  3. Acknowledge your parent's concerns. ...
  4. Tackle boredom. ...
  5. Set limits (if you can) ...
  6. Get help. ...
  7. Take care of yourself. ...
  8. Take a break.
Oct 24, 2022

What does over exhaustion feel like? ›

Fatigue is feeling severely overtired. Fatigue makes it hard to get up in the morning, go to work, do your usual activities and make it through your day. You might have an overwhelming urge to sleep, and you may not feel refreshed after you rest or sleep.

Can your body shut down from exhaustion? ›

The Hostile Takeover of Burnout

The result is a three-way, mind-body shutdown—emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness. Numbness and cynicism set in. You may feel a sense of depersonalization and a lack of accomplishment.

What happens when your body is over exhausted? ›

People with exhaustion may also experience headaches, muscle soreness, problems concentrating, mood swings, and even difficulty sleeping. If exhaustion comes with other symptoms, it could signify a serious health condition, and you may need to discuss it with your doctor.

What is an unloved child? ›

“When a child is neglected, rejected, or abused, the sense of being unloved — and deeply unlovable — tends to persist and affect all areas of that individual's life.” She reminds that blaming your parents or family of origin for destructive behaviors isn't the most helpful idea.

Why unloved daughters attract narcissists? ›

So it makes sense that unloved daughters may tend to enter relationships with people with NPD or narcissistic traits due to their childhood experiences. Some reasons include: Your need for validation makes them feel powerful. Manipulation, control, and gaslighting feels familiar to you.

What makes people feel unloved? ›

Childhood trauma is a leading cause of adults feeling unloveable. This might have been the loss of a parent or sibling, being abandoned or neglected by a parent, having a mentally unwell or addicted parent. Childhood sexual abuse in particular leaves children with a damaged view of themselves.

What does an emotionally unavailable woman act like? ›

Being emotionally unavailable describes someone who is not open to discussing or sharing their feelings. They can be evasive, flaky, or hard to read. "They're scared of intimacy," explains licensed couples therapist Brooke Sprowl, LCSW, CNTS.

How does lack of mother figure affect daughters? ›

A daughter's need for her mother's love is a primal driving force that doesn't diminish with unavailability. Wounds may include lack of confidence and trust, difficulty setting boundaries, and being overly sensitive. Daughters of unloving mothers may unwittingly replicate the maternal bond in other relationships.

Do emotionally unavailable people care about you? ›

In other words, an emotionally unavailable person may not be able to relate to you, put themselves in your shoes, or consider your feelings when making a decision. This doesn't necessarily mean they don't care about your feelings, but they might not have the emotional capability to identify and honor your needs.

What is an ambivalent mother? ›

5:03 Maternal ambivalence is, having extreme emotional conflict in one's feelings towards my [one's] children. Dealing with intense love and sometimes intense hate, the needs to be very intimate and close to one's children or one's child, but also to have a sense that one needs to get distance to have strong feelings.

What are the effects of an emotionally distant mother? ›

Whatever it is, having an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can lead to a lifelong journey of unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, identity confusion, poor attachment to others, low self-esteem and self-efficacy (the feeling of mastery), etc.

What does an emotionally neglectful parent look like? ›

Child emotional neglect (CEN) is the parent's failure to meet their child's emotional needs during the early years. It involves unresponsive, unavailable, and limited emotional interactions between that person and the child. Children's emotional needs for affection, support, attention, or competence are ignored.

Do happy babies become happy adults? ›

Among the Baby Boomers and Generation X, people who had higher levels of emotional wellbeing during childhood and adolescence were more likely to report being satisfied with life when they reached adulthood.

Is it normal to be tired all the time as a parent? ›

Raising children is both rewarding and challenging. Feeling exhausted and worn out is likely to happen, especially in the early years. Recognizing the symptoms of parental burnout can help you put a stop to them before they get worse. Ask for help, take a few minutes for yourself, and give yourself a chance to reset.

Why are moms more tired than dads? ›

Researchers state that both moms and dads “generally enjoy being with their kids.” However, because mothers assume more parenting tasks than fathers, they tend to enjoy the work less. “Mothers report more stress and greater fatigue than fathers.

What is the mom syndrome? ›

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.

What age do parents think is the hardest? ›

In fact, age 8 is so tough that the majority of the 2,000 parents who responded to the 2020 survey agreed that it was the hardest year, while age 6 was better than expected and age 7 produced the most intense tantrums.

Why do I feel detached from my child? ›

Feeling disconnected from your child is a usual part of parenting. Although it leaves you questioning your abilities, with some time and effort, you can work on restoring your connection. Excess screen time, neglecting your own needs, and replacing quality time with material things can contribute to the disconnect.

What is the oldest age of a mother? ›

Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara is the oldest verified mother; she was aged 66 years 358 days when she gave birth to twins; she was 130 days older than Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth in 2005 to a baby girl. In both cases the children were conceived through IVF with donor eggs.

What age is parenting the easiest? ›

Children of primary school age are definitely the easiest ones to parent. And the hardest. Book recommendation for parenting 5-10 year-olds: How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk. If you take one nugget of advice from a book, it's worth reading.

What age do parents like the most? ›

According to a recent survey of nearly 2,000 families, 40 percent of parents found their children to be the most lovable/fun at the age of 5. Meanwhile, they found kids to be the most difficult to spend time with between the ages of 10 and 12.

How do you comfort a struggling mother? ›

  1. This may be tough, but you're tougher.
  2. I admire you!
  3. We're praying for you; you'll get through this.
  4. You have the courage to keep ongoing.
  5. We love you!
  6. Thank you for never giving up.
  7. Just wanted you to know you're being thought of today.
  8. You are so creative!
Feb 25, 2022

How do you deal with a struggling mother? ›

The Best Ways to Emotionally Support a New Mom
  1. Ask Her What She Needs. ...
  2. If a Task Needs to Be Done, Do It! ...
  3. Tell Her How Well She's Doing. ...
  4. Keep the Support Coming. ...
  5. Encourage Her to Connect with Other Moms.

How do I get my moms energy back? ›

10 Ways for Moms to Have More Energy
  1. Exercise. It may seem that adding exercise to your daily routine would use up more energy, but the truth is exercise can actually give you more energy. ...
  2. Spend Time with Friends. ...
  3. Get A Good Night's Sleep. ...
  4. Take A Quick Pause. ...
  5. Schedule A Date Night. ...
  6. Protect Your Time. ...
  7. Self Care.
Aug 25, 2020

What do moms struggle with the most? ›

Not Having Family Time

One of the most common struggles of working moms is not being able to spend any time with their family. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you take some break from your work and spend some time with your family; weekends or weeknights. Nothing big and extravagant, low-key fun family time.

What do moms want to hear? ›

20 Things All Mothers Need to Hear
  • You Created a Human Being. ...
  • You Are a Good Mom. ...
  • You Rock It Without Sleep. ...
  • You've Never Appreciated Your Friends and Family More. ...
  • You Don't Have to Listen to Every Opinion. ...
  • You'll Never Stop Worrying. ...
  • You Won't Ruin Your Child's Life. ...
  • Your Mommy Instincts Are Right on Track.
May 20, 2015

How do you deal with the mental load of motherhood? ›

How do you share the mental load of parenting?
  1. Start Your List Today! Learning ways to cope with your anxiety surrounding the tasks. ...
  2. Find Out More. Building a support team outside of your partner. ...
  3. Find Out More. Prioritizing self-care.

How do stay at home moms get overwhelmed? ›

Avoid Burnout When You're a Stressed Stay-at-Home Mom
  1. Avoid Negative People.
  2. Find Your Support System.
  3. Put Yourself First.
  4. Spend Time With Your Partner.
  5. Put Your Partner to Work.
  6. Watch Your Gadget Time.
  7. Stop Feeling Like You're Failing.
  8. Get Some Sleep.
Sep 24, 2020

How do I find myself again after motherhood? ›

What can I do about loss of identity after having a baby?
  1. Think about all the positive ways your baby has changed you. ...
  2. Make sure to have a break every now and then. ...
  3. Make time for self-care. ...
  4. Don't compare yourself to other parents. ...
  5. And stop comparing yourself to… ...
  6. Give yourself a new goal. ...
  7. Reconnect with your partner.
Feb 2, 2021

What are some encouraging words to say? ›

  • “You got this.”
  • “Good luck today! ...
  • “Sending major good vibes your way.”
  • “I know this won't be easy, but I also know you've got what it takes to get through it.”
  • “Hope you're doing awesome!”
  • “Time to go kick cancer's ass!”
  • “Keep on keeping on!”
Aug 25, 2022

What are some good uplifting quotes? ›

You can do it quotes
  • “Do the best you can. ...
  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ―Theodore Roosevelt.
  • 'It's never too late to be what you might've been.” ―George Eliot.
  • “If you can dream it, you can do it.” ―Walt Disney.
  • “Trust yourself that you can do it and get it.” ―Baz Luhrmann.
May 24, 2022

What is the greatest thing that you can appreciate in your mother? ›

She gives her family all she has (and more)

A mother makes countless sacrifices. She gives up her privacy and alone time to make sure her children are thriving. She gives up a carefree lifestyle to make sure her children are fed, comforted and happy.


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