It can happen slowly, without you even noticing. But when you look closely, the clues you're giving up too much of yourself for your kids were there all along. Stretches of days on end without making time to do anything for yourself. No memory of the last time you ran an errand without a little one by your side. All the signs were there, but you kept on giving to your kids — because that's what a mother does.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "I really hope I'm a super crappy parent." Quite the opposite, everyone wants to be the best parent they can. And most parents I know (me included) tend to beat themselves up when they feel like they have been a less than stellar parent. But I have noticed a misconception —that I'll admit, I bought into in the beginning — that in order to be the best parent, you have to give up a lot of yourself and channel all that energy into your children. No one is OK with just being a good parent, when they can be the best.
But what happens is, this quest for ultimate parenting triumph turns into utter burnout, and leaves you feeling depleted. If these feelings sound familiar, consider these 11 clues you're giving up too much of yourself for your kids and start reinvesting in yourself ASAP.
1You Don't Have A Break
One of the fastest tracks to Mommy Burnout is not allowing other people to care for your child. As Dr. Sears suggested on his website, having the support of a partner helps lighten the parenting load, and you should ask for help from that partner when you need it.
2You're Clothes Are Falling Apart
I know first hand that mom guilt can be a heavy burden. You think you shouldn't treat yourself to new things, and instead use that money for the kids. But if you don't own a shirt without a hole or stain, it's time to invest in yourself again by making a trip to your fave store.
3You Don't Feel Appreciated
Some parts of parenthood are unavoidable, such as feeling that you're taken for granted. That's a feeling that is likely to pop up from time to time. But if the feeling is ongoing, it's a condition researchers who stidy burnout describe as "insufficient reward," which means you feel undervalued for the amount of work you do.
4You've Forgotten About Hobbies
Before kids, there were so many ways you could spend your free time. On a lazy Sunday, you could choose what to do with an afternoon — read, hike, attend a wine tasting, take a boxing class. If you've forgotten about the things that give you energy, such as hobbies, you've given too much of yourself over to motherhood and need to take some time for yourself.
5You're Low On Energy
When you don't make time to recharge your batteries, it can take a toll on your energy level. If you find that your mom game takes a nose dive, it's probably because you just can't find the will to do one more mommy task. You're all mom-ed out and need a break.
6You Don't Have Any Friends
It's possible that you have given up your social life to dedicate all your time to your kids. But according to Psychology Today, mothers need social support to handle the stresses of parenthood. Having people on your team who can help — or just lend an ear — can make all the difference in your mental wellbeing.
7Your Hair's A Hot Mess
I'd need four hands to count how many of my friends have said they desperately need a hair cut, but don't have time for one because they are running their kids to 100 different activities. Nothing makes a girl feel lighter than a little shampoo, trim, and blow out. Just make the appointment and stick to it!
8You've Lost Sight Of Your Dreams
If my life as a mother was a song, the refrain that would play over and over would be, "I came in like a wrecking ball." (My apologies to Miley Cyrus.) Motherhood can blindside you, and if you aren't careful, you may loose sight of the dreams you have for yourself. Try creating a vision board to get your creative juices flowing and remember the goals you want to accomplish.
9You Don't Laugh Enough
If you're drowning in the sea of motherhood, a good laugh can pull you back to shore. As Mayo Clinic pointed out, laughter is a stress reliever that doesn't cost a thing. We all know parenting is full of stressors, and too much can lead to a gloomy mood. Pull yourself out of a funk by watching a funny movie or gathering with your hilarious girlfriends.
10You've Lost Your Edge
Sometimes, moms want to be so good at their role that they suppress parts of themselves that make them unique. You think that your weird sense of humor is not something that would be a good example for your kids, so you hold back on making the funny, peculiar observations that your friends and family consider your trademark. But letting your kids see who you truly are gives back to both you and them. Don't loose the special parts of you because you think they don't fit into your perception of "perfect."
11You're Sleep Deprived
Haven't grabbed enough shut eye because you've been up making costumes, folding tiny laundry, and blending your own baby food, chances are, you're sleep deprived. Just remember, sleep deprivation affects your parenting in many ways and is a slippery slope for your health.
If it turns out that you've been giving more of yourself to your kids than is healthy for you, you have the right to dial it back and claim some of the pie for yourself. You'll be a better mom for it, but even more importantly, you'll feel like you again. Everyone deserves that.