Five ways working mums can avoid burnout.

Five ways working mums can avoid burnout.

As two women at the helm of an award-winning employee wellbeing company, we know a thing or two about spinning plates, many plates! But, because of our work, we also know how important it is to prioritise our wellbeing, even when things feel impossibly busy and our overwhelm levels are set to ‘high’.

When the pandemic tightened its grip on the world, we noticed that self-care quickly slipped down our list of priorities and our work-life balance all but evaporated. As colleagues and good friends, we had many frank conversations during lockdown about how we were feeling (REALLY feeling), whether we were coping and, most importantly, what we could do to ensure we stayed physically and mentally well. Through these conversations, we found some guiding principles that have helped us maintain equilibrium (well, as much as is possible as working mums!) and we hope that by sharing them here, we might support some MumForce readers to do the same.


  1. Set boundaries.
smiling woman playing ukulele on couch in countryside house
Photo by Tatiana Twinslol on

Over the course of this year, the boundaries between work and life have become increasingly permeable; a combination of working from home and access to increasingly smart, connected technology means we can work anytime, anywhere. For working mums, this can mean that we are essentially ‘always on’ so it’s important that we draw some metaphorical lines in the sand. Having a few carefully selected ‘wellbeing non-negotiables’ is a good place to start, be that a long, uninterrupted bath on a Sunday afternoon or a run every morning. We’d also recommend booking in half a day of alone/child-free time at least once a month (such valuable recalibration time!). You could also experiment with tech boundaries such as disabling phone notifications after 6/7/8pm.

  • Accept that ‘bad’ days are part of life.
mother with smiling baby near relatives on sofa
Photo by Tatiana Twinslol on

Some days you will feel like you have it all under control. Other days your home will look like it’s been ransacked by burglars, you’ll go to make dinner and realise that your fridge is empty bar some 46-day old cheese and a jar of gherkins, you’ll find one child brushing their teddy with the toilet brush and the other one drawing a cake on the wall with permanent marker whilst singing “happy birthday to me” (all true stories!). If you’ve had ‘one of those days’ (or weeks!), make a conscious effort to accept it and move on. Try not to ruminate or catastrophise and, whatever you do, don’t let yourself feel like a failure. ‘Having it all under control’ is not a one-time achievement, it’s a feeling that will ebb and flow.


  • Share and be honest.
cheerful surprised woman sitting with laptop
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

As working mums, time to catch up with friends or family can be in short supply. But talking, sharing and offloading is key to maintaining mental wellbeing. So, take opportunities to talk about how you’re feeling and try to be honest about any challenges you’re facing – a problem shared is almost always a problem halved. And don’t be afraid to share with people outside your ‘inner circle’. We’ve had some incredibly affirming and reassuring conversations with fellow mums we’ve got talking to at the bus stop/school gates/doctor’s surgery. According to the Office of National Statistics, 75% of mothers with dependent children are in work. That’s a lot of comrades! You are not alone.

  • Banish ‘mum guilt’.
tired mother with cute daughter resting on bed in cozy room
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

Ah, guilt…the clingy companion most working mums just can’t seem to shake off. In our experience, ‘mum guilt’ is largely caused by the desire to give 100% in our careers whilst also giving 100% as mothers. But most of the time, this just isn’t possible. And it’s these unrealistic standards that become a seedbed for guilt. So, lower your expectations and remember that you’re doing your best (which, really, is all you can do). So, whether the kids watched 3 hours of Peppa Pig so you could finish an important proposal or you were late for pick-up because a meeting over-ran, maintain perspective and be kind to yourself.


  • Be bold when asking for what you need.
adult affection bed closeness
Photo by Pixabay on

At work, be transparent with your manager and team. If you need to leave early to pick the kids up, communicate this and put it in your calendar. It can feel uncomfortable to make such requests but, more often than not, they will be met with appreciation and, more importantly, you can focus on your kid/s for the afternoon without worrying about a work call coming in.

When it comes to your home life, well, women are notorious for having a head full of dentist appointments that need scheduling, tomorrow’s school trip that requires a packed lunch, granny’s birthday, unanswered requests for playdates etc. etc. This is not sustainable. Write a list of everything that’s in your head. What can you delegate? Be bold!

Wishing you wellness, boldness and plenty of boundaries!

Kirsten & Emma