Being a new mom is a life changing experience (whether it’s the first, second, third, or whichever time around.) But there’s no denying that it becomes harder to hold all those balls up in the air.
And then even the tiniest extra challenge brings everything crashing down. That’s new mom burnout in a nutshell. And when you’re in that funk of overwhelm, it becomes a little tough to dig yourself out.
So we checked in with our favorite experts in the fitness and wellness industries. And beating overwhelm comes down to this:
… But ease into it if you’re a new mom
Moving your body is a great way to start to bring more joy and excitement into your life. Just remember that setting your expectations too high may lead to more… overwhelm!
(And if you think you don’t have time to work out, read what these experts have to say about it!)
Start by focusing on the things that bring you joy and progress from there.
Lyn Lindbergh, founder of Couch to Active, who is also a podcast host and award-winning author reminded me that exercise should be pleasure… not pressure!
“When it comes to fitness motivation update your exercise plans to something that will first help you smile. Do what you love. Moms already have so many daily pressures that the last thing they need is for exercise to be dreadful.”Lyn Lindbergh (Facebook | Instagram)
And Amber Reynolds, owner of Glow Mama Fitness says that each step forward counts!
Small, actionable advice for moms with small kids or babies – When your life is run by tiny tyrants, it’s best to focus on the things that you can control that don’t rely on a schedule, and to look for areas of opportunities to do 1% better. Instead of overhauling everything, ask yourself, “How can I make this next decision 1% better?” Those 1% changes really do add up and won’t cause you to crash and burn later.Amber Reynolds (Instagram | Facebook)
Personal trainer Nick Hounslow of 1WRKOUT also adds that having a tribe of like-minded moms will make the transition that much easier.
Start small, don’t try to go back to your old routine right away. Set reasonable goals and build up to them slowly because you will feel much stronger mentally and physically and still have the energy to deal with the little one. Timing is vital for new parents — try to find a tribe or community workout that maximizes your bang for buck and remember you are NOT alone!Nick Hounslow
Founder of The Fitness Nutritionists, Stefanie Wilkerson (who has more certifications than I know how to spell) gave me three mantras when I feel like giving up:
1 – “When you feel like quitting think about why you started”Stefanie Wilkerson (Instagram)
2 – “Invest in yourself, your family depends on it”
3 – “You are enough.”
…Or just go for walks
If an intense workout is just not in the cards, a long walk is the next best thing.
When I had just one baby, we were both obsessed with going for walks with my baby wrap, but now that I have two, I found the best double stroller for any kind of terrain (including jogging.)
Alicia Filley who is the founder of The Healthy Hiker as well as physical therapist and fitness writer gave me a paradigm shift to look at walks as a really good exercise.
The best way for moms with young children to stay fit is to take a walk. Kids love to watch the world go by from their stroller or carrier, and walking provides both aerobic and strengthening benefits for mom. Mix it up by finding a trail to hike along or add some lunges or squats as you walk.Alicia Filley (Instagram | Facebook)
Yoga, movement, and lifestyle expert Hope Zvara chimes in that regular walks will set your kids up for a healthy lifestyle too!
“As a mom of 3, my goal was to be able to show my kids how fitness is not about sports but about being active. More importantly, I wanted them to understand this “though” being a part of it. I’ve been going for walks with them since they were in utero, and showing them that movement and being active has to be things you can do anytime, with or without other people, it’s a lifestyle. My advice, you want your kids to be active, be active with them, and keep telling them why along the way.”Hope Zvara (Instagram | Facebook)
Make yourself a priority
We’ve all heard that “put your own mask on first” analogy, or “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and yet we moms always put away “me-time” off for another day. (And then we wonder why we’re overwhelmed!)
Life coach Tiffany Schneider Raff says that’s a no-no. If your kids see you putting yourself last, that’s the message they’ll pick up for themselves.
Put yourself first. Children are visual learners and follow your modeling. If you let yourself go in order to put your child’s needs first, this is what your child learns; either to be egocentric or to put others’ needs first. Don’t feel guilty, teaching them to be responsible for themselves and to honor other people’s boundaries is one of life’s most important skills.Tiffany Scneider Raff (Youtube)
Dietitian and Nutritionist Bansari Acharya of FoodLove.com also says that a happy mom is the most important gift you can give your kids.
As a mother, it is extremely crucial for you to take time out for yourself to take care of your own health and wellbeing. At the end of the day, the most important thing for a child is to have a mother who is happy and healthy versus a mother who is ignoring her own needs. The best gift you can give to your child is to make sure you are making your own mental and physical health a priority!Bansari Acharya
Ask for help
And when it comes to “filling your own cup”, is there anything on your plate that someone else could do? Maybe it’s walking your dog, maybe it’s washing your floors, or maybe it’s even a regular mood check-in.
Omiete Charles-Davies, a medical doctor who leads the team at One Doctor puts it simply: “Don’t feel guilty about asking for help”.
Being a mom can be very taxing especially when your children are very young. You should accept help where and when necessary to avoid burnout. For instance, you can plan to have your spouse or partner take over some chores that stress you the most without feeling guilty.
You can also plan to have grandparents help you out for the weekend as often as possible, so you can get as much rest.Omiete Charles-Davies
And fertility coach Sue Ritchie, who knows a thing or two about stress and overwhelm, shares that people want to help you but they may not know you need it if you don’t ask.
Instead of assuming that people will know when you are struggling, remember to just ask for help. It really can be that easy. Asking for help is a sign of strength not of failure.Sue Ritchie (Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter)
Mind your thoughts
When it comes to making yourself a priority, a great place to start is in your own head. Change your thoughts, change your mindset, and start having more joy-filled days!
Anita (of Yoga Anita) offered FREE guided meditations as well as a mindset-healing podcast for all new moms battling burnout:
I am sending you peace, love, and many hugs for the incredibly hard but worthwhile work that you do. Take a moment to breathe, stretch, or do a guided meditation.Yoga Anita (Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest| Twitter)
Julia Hickman, founder of the Fastinista Online Studio says focus on your dreams and break your big goals into little ones:
Before you were a wife and mom, you were a woman with dreams. Remember them and know that you deserve to chase them, whether it’s losing weight, a certain hobby or simply getting dolled up. Take it one day at a time, break up big goals into smaller mini goals and celebrate your progress along the way!Julia Hickman (Facebook group)
And author Lesley Reynolds (as well as founder of Harley Street Skin Clinic) gave me a tip she uses to cut the cycle of anxiety:
Sitting in a loop of worry is simple — nevertheless, test your thoughts and see how easily you get back to worry. Rather, take the times when you’re worrying and remind yourself what you should do now or place the anxiety on the shelf and encourage yourself to think about it for two minutes and then agree to push forward.Lesley Reynolds (Book | Linkedin)
Feel some gratitude and love yourself
And lastly, seal in the good feelings with thoughts of love and gratitude.
Naturopathic doctor Yelena Deshko, ND (who is also the founder of Timeless Health Clinic in Toronto) taught me a simple way to make a lasting impact to my mental health as a new mom:
It can be hard finding time for self-care when you’re a mom – but it’s also essential to focus on the positive. A daily gratitude practice is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to boost mental health and wellbeing. Most of us spend the majority of the day focusing on various problems either at work or in our personal lives. Taking a few minutes daily to reframe our outlook and count our blessings essentially “trains” our brains to consistently experience more positive feelings. This can be done easily by keeping “gratitude journal” and writing down 3–5 amazing things that happen each day.Dr. Yelena Deshko, ND (Facebook | Instagram)
Kelly Jones, sports dietitian and nutrition consultant, adds that an easy way to love yourself is to take some pressure off!
There’s a lot of pressure as a new mom, or mom of young children, to look perfect and raise perfect kids. Focusing on perfection can create both excess stress and lead to an all-or-nothing mentality that pulls you away from truly healthy habits. This isn’t good for mental health, metabolism, relationships, or long term physical health. Thank your body each morning for what it does and has done for you, and have small realistic goals for fitness and nutrition. It’s way more exciting to achieve your goal of exercising twice this week and prepping two meals than it is to fall short of unrealistic goals to exercise five days and feed your kids 100% food from scratch. Your kids don’t care how you look, they care how present and fun you are!Kelly Jones (Instagram)
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, who’s also a wellness writer and editor for Best for Nutrition says love yourself with no guilt or regrets.
Love your body, which has created a miracle. Take things slowly; enjoy your motherhood without any guilt or regrets. This phase will pass too soon until then build memories that you will cherish forever.Dr. Rashmi Byakodi (Linkedin)
Hey new mom, don’t forget to treat yourself
And this last one is from me.
Whenever I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed, I take one of the actions above, and then I reward myself for following through. The reward doesn’t have to be complicated or huge.
- It can be a cupcake
- It can be a bubble bath with a hair mask and a scented candle
- It can be a coffee date (by yourself… new mom paradise!) while you chuckle at some parenting memes.
It just has to come with the intention of shifting your energy from burnout and overwhelm to feeling like you got this.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever faced “new mom burnout” and what’s your best strategy to bust through it?