“Mama burnout”: these are the symptoms of an overstrained mother

Being a mom is one of the most important tasks. Nevertheless it is still underestimated. It is still too little appreciated. Mothers are not even paid. On the contrary. They are the population group most affected by poverty.

Even though they perform so well.

Mothers run a small family business. You are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Isn’t the question rather: How can you NOT be exhausted with this workload??

The “Mama Burnout

What is burnout?

Burnout is currently not a clinical diagnosis. There is also no universal definition. Burnout is understood to mean severe physical exhaustion: the person affected feels empty, powerless and irritable.

Burnout can occur when someone has the permanent feeling of giving more than is returned: one is literally “burnt out”.

Originally, the term referred to situations of professional stress. It has also been called the manager’s disease. Meanwhile, it is also extended to other groups of people.

Burnout can affect anyone. Anyone can be burned out. This also means that if you feel burned out, you have previously “burned out” for something. He or she has given everything. Just like moms too.

Moms are on fire for their kids. They give everything and often more. Your own wishes and needs take a back seat. This is why they are at high risk of burnout.

Exclude physical causes

Burnout is not a recognized medical diagnosis. However, there is one main characteristic: the affected person can not recover. Neither resting nor sleeping in helps.

If feelings of stress persist even after recovery periods, the diagnosis of burnout can be given.

It is important to exclude organic causes. Exhaustion and fatigue can also have other causes. For example, hypothyroidism can be accompanied by feelings of exhaustion.

Difference burnout and depression

A burnout is not the same as a depression. However, it can be a precursor. Symptoms can overlap: Listlessness, emptiness and fatigue can also occur with depression.

Often it is not clear whether overload leads to depression or depression leads to overload.

The difference to burnout is: In depression, the negative feelings and thoughts refer to all areas of life. Add to that:

  • lack of self-confidence
  • Fear of the future
  • Feeling of futility
  • Possibly suicidal thoughts

One thing is clear: Burnout can increase the risk of depression. Other mental illnesses may also exist 1).

Who meets burnout?

Certain personality traits increase the risk of burnout syndrome.

  • Perfectionistic people who want to do everything right
  • People who think they are not very competent
  • People who are afraid of offending others and also of saying no sometimes
  • People who feel little self-determination

Burnout knows no age limits. People between the ages of 35 and 45 are most affected 3).

What is “mom burnout”?

Moms with burnout are not uncommon: One in five moms are thought to be affected 2). Mothers in particular often seek help much too late. Many think they cannot be overburdened. They think they have to be strong for their child.

After all, they say that being a mother is the best gift of all. The other part of the truth is: the mommy job can be a back-breaking job.

Especially small children need constant attention. Always. For moms, the day doesn’t end with normal office hours. Especially with small children, all-nighters are often the rule rather than the exception. This can lead to mental and physical exhaustion.

In addition: Children under the age of four have no empathy. They only follow their own wishes. They don’t understand when their mom can’t do it anymore.

Let’s not forget to mention: Dads can also be overwhelmed at home. For example, the pressure to bring home a good income is also heavy on paternal shoulders.

But mostly mothers spend more time with their children. Often they do the lion’s share of the work. Single parents are 90 percent women. That’s why women suffer from “child-related” burnout more often than men do.

But of course dads should not be excluded from the definition.

Causes of excessive demands on mothers

Modern moms are true managers. They try to do justice to everything. When a lot of things come together, it becomes too much. The following factors can lead to exhaustion:


Being a mom is a big challenge. It is associated with many fears and worries.

Many mothers are insecure. They do not want to make mistakes in parenting. You keep asking yourself: am I doing everything right?? Did I just rant too much? Or let too much slip through their fingers?

Many career women find themselves home alone with their child all day during maternity leave and in the absence of a daycare place. From an academic job to stacking blocks and cooking porridge, it can be frustrating.

Time for themselves, free time, time alone with their partner becomes scarce.

Not all children are the same

Some children sleep through the night as babies. There are children who spend hours on end alone. Others need a lot of attention and time.

Many things can be taught to children. But there’s little you can do to influence a child’s character. This can be compounded by psychological disorders such as ADHD. They pose an additional challenge.

She has to look perfect

Whether on television, the Internet or in magazines: Women see every day what a successful mother can look like: She loses the baby fat in no time at all. She looks like she’s come out of the woodwork.

On social media, celebrity moms can do it all with a flick of the wrist. Yet they are perfectly styled. Many moms give in to the pressure of having to be the same way.

It takes the pressure off the dad

Moms are often there for their children around the clock. They get up with them at night. They soothe the child when it cries. They often take the load off dad, who has to go to work early in the morning.

Sad but true: Not all dads help out. Not everyone cleans up.

Not all of them understand what their wife does every day.

Also in the 21. In the twenty-first century, many men still expect their wives to do most of the housework, cook and take care of the children alone.

Stress due to family and job

Despite all emancipatory efforts: Family and career are still not very compatible today. The children demand their rights. The cost of living is high. For most families, one income is not enough.

The result: mothers tear themselves apart between the double burden of job and child.

They have to perform at their best at work and at home. On the side, they have to take care of the kids, take them to their activities. They have to cook in the evenings and manage the household. It’s just a lot to ask.

Probably most mothers know the permanent guilty conscience: They believe they are not good enough either at work or at home.

During the Corona pandemic, the lines between home and work became blurred. The children have had homeschooling. Parents work in home offices. Thanks to cell phones and e-mail, we are always reachable.

Covid-19 also made the working world more uncertain for many people. Anxiety about the job and the indispensable second income meant further stress.

Single moms

In Germany there are approx. 8.2 million families with underage children. About 20% of them are single parents. Of which again 90% are mothers. You are among the most stressed groups of people 4).

Single moms carry everything on their shoulders. In addition, they receive little recognition for their achievements.

Various studies show: Single parents are especially vulnerable to poverty and stress. Exhaustion is the result.

Children sense when parents are exhausted. They suffer from stress. Worry and tension are passed on to children. As a result, children can suffer from behavioral problems. Which in turn means more stress for the mother. A vicious circle.

Help with “Mama Burnout

Change something

As with the “real” burnout, the following applies:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Admit weaknesses
  3. Get help

Nobody is perfect. No one should be ashamed of not being a “super mom”. Change begins within – in small things:

Involve others

Grandpas, aunts, child minders – who could help??

If possible, moms should get support. Grandparents can fill in weekly, for example. Having a babysitter every now and then brings moments of freedom and free time.

And why not initiate play afternoons with another mom every now and then?? The children could play together under alternate supervision – and mom can use the child-free time.

Create islands of calm

Everyone needs space for themselves. It is also important for moms to take time specifically for themselves. Doing something for your own soul. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. Taking a deep breath is also good for the head.

Other happiness moment ideas could be: taking a bath, reading a few chapters in an exciting book, or watching an episode of your favorite show.

It may even be possible to create a geographic quiet zone: A room that the children are not allowed to enter.

Avoid stress

Many moms mean too well. You become true momagers. Your children have a different appointment every day. From tennis lessons to piano lessons to English classes, you’re overextending yourself – and your children. Is it really necessary to have a different activity every day? A relaxing afternoon in the park is good for kids and parents, too.

Get professional help

The term “mommy burnout” is sure to make some people smile. Those who find it rather funny, but have certainly never been exposed to the load.

It is imperative that “mom burnout” be taken seriously. A completely exhausted mother should get help. Fundamental things have to change. An afternoon of coffee and cake every six weeks won’t solve exhaustion issues.

Everybody has a different load limit. Admitting one’s own is important and healthy. Also psychological help get is not a disgrace.


The issues of burnout and exhaustion in mothers need more attention. In our fast-paced times, everything has to be better, faster, more productive. Mothers demand far too much of themselves and their children’s education.

Even if they “only” take care of the child without extreme pressure to perform: Moms perform at their best every day. They give everything for their family.

Here’s why they should be appreciated every day. Not only on Mother’s Day, with a bouquet of flowers.

The work of a mom is worth just as much as that of an over-flying career person. Because, let’s be honest: What is more important than sending happy children off into a happy future??

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