Single Mom Burnout: 10 Ways to Conquer Single Parenting Stress

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Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by Rebecca Lake

Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled with burnout as a single mom?

Single mom burnout is real and odds are you’ve experienced it as a single parent, even if you don’t know exactly what to call it.

Burnout is defined as a “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”. Sound familiar?

Single mom burnout is hard to avoid because overwork and stress are the norm much of the time. You’re trying to care for children, pay the bills and keep up with other day-to-day responsibilities and you may be doing it all with no help of any kind.

Knowing how to spot the signs of single mom burnout — and how to cope with it — can keep it from getting the best of you.

What Does Single Mom Burnout Look Like?

If you don’t recognize the signs of burnout, it’s easy to think that you’re not affected by it. But there are some telltale clues that burnout is setting in.

Clue #1: You’re exhausted

Constant fatigue is a major giveaway that you’re burned out as a single mom.

You fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, get a decent night’s sleep but still wake up exhausted. It feels like you’re always in a fog and all you can think about is when you can go back to bed.

That’s burnout. It’s your body and mind trying to keep up as you grind your way through each day.

Clue #2: Sleeping is a struggle

Terrible sleep quality is another single mom burnout clue.

For example, you might go to bed feeling completely worn out but then your brain clicks on and starts going a mile a minute. You start thinking about all the things you have to do the next day, or all the things you didn’t get done today and boom–you’re wide awake.

Or else, you fall asleep but you toss and turn or your sleep is sidetracked by crazy dreams.

Stress dreams can be a hint that you’re trying to do to much as a single mom. And if you’re not able to fall asleep, you could have burnout-induced insomnia.

Clue #3: You’re always cranky

Not getting enough sleep makes you grouchy. Even when you’re getting enough sleep, you can still feel like a major grump if you’re suffering from burnout-driven exhaustion.

This is one of the suckiest parts of single mom burnout.

You can easily find yourself snapping at everyone around you, kids included, and you don’t mean to do it.

But when you’re constantly tired, your fuse runs short and you end up feeling annoyed, irritated and frustrated.

Clue #4: You’re having a hard time getting anything done

Burnout is a guaranteed productivity killer.

It’s hard to nail everything you’re supposed to do at work and home when you can barely focus. You end up doing just the bare minimum to take care of yourself and the kids.

Some days, you might have a hard time even doing that.

Meanwhile, the chores start piling up around the house, your performance at work or in your business takes a huge nosedive and you feel more stressed than ever.

And you have zero mental motivation to do anything about it.

Clue #5: You have no interest in anything (besides taking a nap)

One of the side effects of single mom burnout is that self-care ends up on the back-burner.

You don’t have time to pursue hobbies anymore and even if you do, it just doesn’t interest you. Everything is just kind of blah and it’s hard to feel motivated.

One thing I want to say here: lack of interest in things you used to enjoy is also a sign of depression.

Single mom burnout and depression are two totally different things. If you’re not sure whether you’re burned out or depressed, consider talking to a counselor or therapist who can help you figure out exactly what’s going on.

burned out single mom
Single Mom Burnout

Clue #6: You feel run down or sick all the time

Too much stress can make you sick, literally.

A study from Michigan State University suggests a link between higher stress levels and health issues like asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and lupus.

If you seem to get headaches more often, you’ve got a cold you can’t shake or everything just hurts, that could be your body’s way of telling you you’re burned out.

Clue #7: You beat yourself up mentally for not being a perfect mom.

Single mom guilt is real and it’s something most moms encounter from time to time.

What is single mom guilt?

It’s that nagging voice in your head that tells you you’re doing a terrible job raising your kids.

And by the way, your house really could be cleaner and oh my god, you’re not really going to feed your kids frozen chicken nuggets, are you?

That’s the voice of mom guilt. And if it seems to be getting louder and meaner, that’s a sure sign that single mom burnout is at work.

How to Beat Single Mom Burn Out (for Good)

Being a burned-out, stressed mom is no fun.

Not for you and definitely not for your kids. But you don’t have to stay that way.

Ready to beat single mom burnout? Here’s how.

1. Know your stress triggers

The first step in fighting burnout is knowing what’s behind it.

Early on in my single mom journey, for example, my biggest stressor was money. I was always worried about how to survive financially as a single mom.

Thankfully, I was able to improve my financial situation, but maybe money is a trigger for you, too.

Think about what stresses you the most from day-to-day.

It could be your money, your job, your ex or something else. Grab a notebook and write it all down, every big (or small) thing that puts you on edge.

Now, brainstorm some possible solutions for making them less overwhelming.

You may not be able to make a huge transformation right away, but taking even one small step could cut down on stress.

2. Nail your routine

Routines. Kids love them, right? Routines are comforting because they make you feel more in control.

They’re not just for kids either. When you’re burned out, having a routine can help cut through the chaos.

For example, a morning routine can help you prepare for the day ahead with less stress. And an evening routine can make it easier to unwind after a long day.

If you don’t have a morning routine or a bedtime ritual, start with those first.

It’s important to bookend your days with a plan. Then, figure out a schedule for the hours in-between so you have a road map to follow.

best planners for moms
Beating Single Mom Burnout

3. Make sleep a priority

Some people daydream about their celebrity crushes. As a burned-out single mom, you might daydream about crawling into bed and sleeping for 12 hours straight.

If you’re suffering from single mom burnout exhaustion, you’ve got to find a way to get the rest you need.

That might mean going to bed earlier, getting up later or snagging a 20-minute nap in the afternoon.

The quality of your sleep matters too.

Sleeping 8 hours sounds great unless you’re sleeping on a worn-out mattress or trying to do it with a kid jabbing their elbows into your sides. (Been there, done that.)

If you can’t increase your sleep time, make it as comfortable as possible.

Invest in a new mattress or treat yourself to a new pillow. Splurge on some quality sheets. Give your kid the boot to their bed or a pallet on the floor if you co-sleep.

Do whatever you have to do, but make sure that every minute of sleep you’re able to get counts.

4. Simplify your schedule and stop multitasking

Schedule overload is a fast track to burnout. It’s hard to feel energized when every day is packed with things to do.

Think about where your time goes every day, and what your kids are doing.

Look for activities that add to everyone’s stress that you could cut out.

Here’s a simple rule for scheduling if you want to avoid single mom burnout: less is more.

When you have fewer things to do or fewer places to go, you have more time to slow down.

Doing 10 things at once might make you feel more productive but the bottom line? Multitasking doesn’t work.

Not only does multitasking make you less effective, but it also makes you less attentive and less mindful of what you’re doing.

If you’re already burned out, realizing that you’re not really getting anything done and you’re zoned out isn’t going to help.

Instead of multitasking, work on one thing at a time and don’t stress about everything else on your to-do list.

5. Plan ahead

It’s hard to do things when you’re burned out.

Your brain gets all fuzzy and you just can’t think straight. Or worse, you start forgetting things.

Mom brain is real and it gets worse when you’re approaching burnout level. Some simple planning can help you stay on track, especially if you’re already feeling stressed.

Prep all your meals for the week so you’re not scrambling to make dinner every night. You can use a simple meal planning option like $5 Meal Plan to create weekly menus.

Pick out your clothes for the next day the night before and have your kids do the same to cut down on the morning frenzy.

These are simple things but they can make a big difference in cutting down on stress.

woman looking at the ocean
Single Mom Burnout Tips

6. Take care of your money

The money struggle is real for a lot of single moms.

On the list of biggest financial challenges single parents face, low income, inconsistent child support, poor credit and debt are all near the top.

Tending to your finances as a single mom is a form of self-care.

By paying attention to your money situation, you can remove a major source of anxiety in your life.

If you’re struggling with money, here are a few tips to help you get back on track:

Learn to budget

A budget is essential for getting a handle on your finances.

Your budget is your plan for spending each month. When you have a budget in place, it becomes easier to manage and track expenses, save and work toward your goals.

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a guide to making a single mom budget.

monthly budget freebie printables

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    Pay off your debt

    Debt can be a serious obstacle to building wealth as a single mother.

    When you have credit card payments, student loans, car loans or other debts to manage, it’s harder to make progress with saving or investing.

    If you have debt, consider what you can do to pay it down faster.

    For example, you might use a 0% APR balance transfer offer to consolidate your credit cards. Or you could get a low-interest debt consolidation loan to combine and pay off debts.

    The faster you can ditch your debt, the sooner you can focus on the money goals that are most important to you.

    Looking for a simple money management tool? Empower makes it easy to track spending, saving, investing, and budgeting in one place so you can tackle your financial goals!

    Start saving

    One of the first things I did as a newly single mom was to focus on growing my emergency fund.

    An emergency fund is a savings account that you can tap into when you have unexpected expenses. It’s a backup plan for your finances so you don’t have to turn to a credit card to cover an emergency.

    If you haven’t started saving yet, your future self will thank you for every penny you stash in savings.

    Opening a high-yield savings account can be a good place to start. A high yield account from an online bank can pay a stellar interest rate with minimal fees.

    Once you get into the habit of saving, you can branch out to add investing into the mix.

    If you’re looking for a simple way to invest, Acorns is worth a try. The Acorns app rounds up your spare change and invests it for you to help you build wealth in small increments.

    woman counting money

    Grow your income

    Making more money is one of the best ways to improve your financial situation as a single mom and reduce burnout.

    When you have more money coming in that can help you combat financial stress. And if you’re not worried about money all the time, that can help you be a relaxed, happier mom.

    Starting a single mom side hustle or two can give your income a boost. You could also try negotiating a raise at your current job or taking on more hours if you get paid hourly.

    Related post: How to Be a Stay at Home Single Mom When It Seems Impossible [Ultimate Guide]

    7. Take care of your health

    Good health is so important as a single mom.

    Because you know what happens when you get sick, right? The entire world comes screeching to a halt.

    If you have friends or family nearby who can help you out, it’s not so bad. But if you don’t, then being sick is something you just don’t have time for.

    So, you have to stay on top of your health. That means physically, mentally and emotionally.

    Here are some of my favorite ways to stay healthy as a single mom.


    I try to work out at home every day if I can because that’s my “quiet” time. If you can do the same or hit the gym, then great.

    But if you can’t, then just walking around the block with the kids can make a huge difference in how you feel.

    Get enough sleep

    I cherish my sleep and I hate when it gets interrupted. Make sure you’re getting enough rest so you don’t feel like a total mombie in the mornings.

    Eat better

    Making three meals a day can be hard when you’re a busy single mom, whether you work at home or outside of it.

    If you don’t have time for organic, homemade everything try to fit in at least one healthy meal a day, for yourself and your kids.

    Bonus tip: Check out HealthyWage–you can get paid real money to lose weight and get healthy!

    Make time for self-care

    Practicing self-care matters for all moms but it’s can be tougher as a single mom if you never seem to get a break. But carving out even 5 to 10 minutes a day can give you the time you need to be kind to yourself.

    You can’t take care of everyone and everything else without taking care of you first.

    If you think you can’t find any time for self-care, start small. Try for 30 minutes a week at least.

    If you can set aside more time, great. But commit to taking that time every week to focus on yourself.

    be kind to yourself

    8. Say no

    Being a yes woman can almost guarantee that you’ll end up with a bad case of single mom burnout.

    If you frequently say yes to doing things or making commitments when you really mean no, ask yourself why.

    Is it because you feel guilty if you say no? Or you’re worried about disappointing someone?

    Those are valid thoughts but you have to think about what the cost is to yourself when you say yes to everything. If it just makes you feel more stressed and frazzled, permit yourself to say no, at least once in a while.

    If you want to be kind to yourself and not add to your stress load, then get comfortable with saying no too.

    Try taking the KonMari approach if you don’t know where to start. Say no to things, situations or people that don’t spark joy.

    Saying no will make some people unhappy. They might even try to make you feel guilty about it.

    But stand your ground. Don’t let other people’s expectations dictate what you say yes or no to.

    9. Skip the mom guilt

    Every mom probably deals with feelings of guilt at some point or another but it can be especially strong if you’re a single mom.

    Because we get judged all the time, right?

    Society attaches this stigma to single moms that we just can’t seem to shake. And what’s worse is when you get judged by people you know, like your parents or mom friends.

    So the last thing you need to do is add to that with your own personal guilt trip.

    If you want to be kind to yourself as a single mom, you can start by accepting these truths:

    • You are not a perfect mom. (But hey, NO mom is perfect.)
    • It’s okay to not be perfect.
    • It’s even okay to not feel great about being a mom sometimes.
    • You will screw up and make mistakes as a parent.
    • Your mistakes don’t define who you are or how much you love your kids.

    Look, I would love to win a mom of the year award but…it’s not happening. But I’m okay with it.

    And if you want to be okay with it too, you have to kick that mom guilt firmly to the curb.

    10. Ask for help

    Asking for help as a single mom can be hard. Every mom feels the pressure to try and be a super mom all the time.

    But sometimes asking for help is the very best thing you can do to beat single mom burnout, for yourself and your kids.

    If you don’t have a tribe you can call on for help, work on building one.

    Connect with other moms, get friends and family to pitch in, pay someone to do a chore around the house that you can’t stand or don’t have time for.

    Reach out to coworkers, your church family if you have one, your next-door neighbors. Join a single mom support group on Facebook or through a local meetup.

    Bottom line, the more people you can get on your team, the better. And if you’re struggling financially, remember that assistance for single moms is out there if you need it.

    mom and daughter

    Final thoughts on single mom burnout

    Burnout can leave you worn out if you don’t know how to fight it. Having a strategy for managing mom life (and your money) can help you keep burnout at bay.

    Need more money tips? Read these posts next:

    What are you doing to beat single mom burnout?

    About Rebecca Lake

    Rebecca Lake is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, freelance writer and homeschooling single mom of two. Since 2014, she's paid off nearly $100,000 in debt and grown her net worth to seven figures. Her work has appeared online at top personal finance websites, including Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Investopedia, The Balance, and U.S. News & World Report. Find out more.

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