Are you in mom-fatigue?

I remember the first time I felt jealous when Brian came home from work and the kids scrambled and ran to meet him. Normally this made me happy. But that day, it didn’t. All I thought about was the fact that they never came running to me after I was gone. Wait. Maybe that was because I never left them. Bingo

I was so busy being a mom, and loving it, that I failed to see that I needed to get away. I love children, and I have a pretty high threshold of tolerance for all things kids, so it took me a while to understand that this was indeed a need. The few times I would get away, I would feel guilty the whole time. I would rush through the errands and hurry to get back to my mom post. Brian would always tell me, “take your time,” but I didn’t. I had convinced myself that I had to be with my children all the time.

As a stay-at-home mom I have chosen to spend my life with children. I love it, and I am extremely grateful to be able to be home with them. However, in a strange sort of irony, I was with them too much. I needed to step away in order to get perspective. I was in mom-fatigue (Yes, I made up that term).

The truth is that I want to love being a mom all the time. I want to treasure the moments with my kids. And in order to do that, I need to take some time away.

Early on in my motherhood, I was not adept at detecting when this mom-fatigue was setting in. In fact, I would usually not realize it until I was at my threshold of tolerance. That was too late. Quite often Brian detects it earlier than I do, but I have gotten better at reading the signs and realizing when I need to step away. A couple of hours does wonders. And I no longer feel guilty about it. When I am away, I relax and enjoy it fully. I am a better wife and mom for it.

Possible signs that you are hitting mom-fatigue.

  • Your normally picked up house seems to be a constant mess. You cannot get it together in your household management.
  • The minute your husband walks in the door from work you hurl the kids at him and say, “these are YOUR kids. You take over.”
  • You fall into bed at night in sheer exhaustion, but lay awake thinking about the messy house, the bad spirits, the mistakes, etc, of the day.
  • The sweet cuddles that you normally can’t get enough of seem to suddenly make you stiffen up. “Stop touching me, please.
  • The silly, and sometimes mess-producing childishness which you normally take in stride, makes you irritated and irritable to be around. 
  • You use social media, phone conversations, internet, or just your thoughts to zone out. You need a break, so you just take it mentally even though you are still right in the midst of it all. 
  • You are doing all your mom duties, but you are not present. Dispensing out PB&J’s, changing diapers, cleaning messes, breaking up sibling squabbles, teaching, correcting, etc., are occurring, but you are not really there. (Your kids know that, by the way.)

If you are detecting mom-fatigue, I encourage you to get away for a few hours. It will give you perspective. As a mom of littles, I am always needed. There really is not much my kids can do alone. That means I am always helping someone, answering questions, or doing something for someone. It is a great life, really. But we all need some time when we are not needed. When someone is not demanding our attention or help. Where we can get refreshed.

Usually, I just take a couple of hours when we can fit it into the schedule. During this intense time of life with a husband in full-time schooling, this is usually all we can manage. Every few weeks, Brian and I look at the calendar and block out a few hours for me to get away. This summer, though, with a slightly different schedule, it is going to be more consistent. Yeah! We have carved out once a week for me to have some time alone. It is not a long time, but it is just enough for me to calm my spirit, read, stare into space think, write, plan the week, do nothing if I want to, and be refreshed.

This is not a time to chat on the cell phone, or surf the internet. Those are enjoyable, but serve a different purpose. My personal favorite is to go to a coffee shop, but that costs money so I don’t do that often! It is especially important for me to leave the house. Even though I have regular times at home to read, I need some time when I am away from it all. When I can leave the dust bunnies, dishes, and cries. I always come back ready to tackle it all, and ready to enjoy being a mom again.

Moms, as much as we want to be, we are not self-sufficient. We cannot adequately provide for the needs of our husband, children, and homes if we do not stop to replenish ourselves. Only God can sustain our constantly giving ourselves without taking time to be rejuvenated. We cannot be gods in our home assuming that we can constantly give, give, give. We must acknowledge that our bodies, spirits, minds, and yes, even patience levels have a limit.

There is no guilt in saying, “I need a break.” Yes, I do take a break. And, yes, I get a personal thrill at seeing my kids come running to the door to see me after I have been away. And when I see a woman looking at nothing in particular at a coffee shop, I no longer think it is odd. I just assume she is probably savoring the joy of not being needed for a moment.

Do you take regular time alone?


  1. I try to plan for and then truly savor the moments I’m not needed. They’re beautiful!

    • Johanna says:

      Truly savoring is so important. Otherwise the time flies by and it hasn’t really been refreshing!

  2. Kristin says:

    I left Owen in the nursery yesterday, and he slept through the whole morning service! I got to worship with my church family again (first time since the week before Easter!) and it was wonderful! Just that one hour did me so much good. :)

  3. elva farrell says:

    I love the picture!!

  4. You are so right on. I’m thankful that I got to be home with my kids full time. But FULL TIME can be draining when we don’t have a chance to get away and recharge. And the symptoms you listed for mom-fatigue? Yep. Been there. Lots of times. For me, it got easier as the kids got older. And I’m totally loving the mom-season I’m in right now. The fatigue thing doesn’t set it nearly as much anymore. Whew!

  5. Heather C says:

    Thank you for this post. It is exactly what I’ve been needing to read. My uncle is getting married on June 2 in Memphis and I have an opportunity to go without my kids and husband (I would be gone for the entire weekend). I would be riding with my parents and sister so I wouldn’t be completely alone but I have been struggling with making my decision on whether I should go or not. I have been feeling guilty about even considering going even though my husband is encouraging me to go. I have been praying for help in making my decision and after reading your post I’m pretty sure I’ve made up my mind that I am going to go. Thank you.

    • Johanna says:

      I definitely hope you can go! I do, though, completely understand your struggle! I have so been there! One thing that has helped is knowing how good it is for my kids as well. We are ALL more refreshed after a little break.

      I hope you find your weekend a benefit for all of you. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I, unfortunately had “mom fatigue” and didn’t realize I needed a break until it turned into depression. Then I saw that I needed time away, but it was too late. It didn’t help me. Thankfully I started going to a counselor who helped me see that I was clinically depressed. I am now on medication, continuing counseling and listening to myself to learn my limits. I enjoy my children and my life again :-)

    • Johanna says:

      Rachel, thank you so much for adding your perspective. This is a very needed warning. Many of us moms think we can run on endless energy.
      I’m so glad that you are on the road to recovery and enjoying your family once again.

  7. Kristy Stewart says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m printing it off to share with a friend (she doesn’t have consistent internet access). It is so hard for us as moms to take a break when we need one because we feel it will make us even further behind. Ye,t when we don’t, it only compounds the problems. Thanks again. I’ve been enjoying your blog.

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