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5 Signs You’re a Burnt-Out Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, someone asked me if I was going to get any help once the baby was born. "Of course not," I answered smugly. Even though I was running a graphic design business from my home, I was pretty certain I could handle a newborn, design ad campaigns, process billing, meet with clients and go to 2 a.m. press checks all on 45 minutes of sleep.

And I did handle it—for around three days. It all fell apart one afternoon when I found myself trying to breastfeed my daughter as she lay on the floor and I leaned over her while talking to a client with my phone in one hand and going through a color swatch book with my other. That’s when I knew if I didn’t ask for help soon I’d end up accidentally mailing off the baby to the printer in a FedEx box.

It’s all part of the fantasy of being a mom: We can do it all, and do it on our own. But it’s important—for you and your kids—to know when to yell, “Uncle!” and take a few things off your list or ask for help. Here are a few telltale signs you might be approaching mom burn-out.

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1. You can’t remember the last time you took a shower

Personal hygiene is always the first to go. If even your newborn is recoiling at the smell of your pits, it’s probably time to carve out some more me-time for you—and your bath gel.

Think about making some changes if your last lunch consisted of a bag of Hot Cheetos and two Laffy Taffys washed down with a Yoo-hoo.

2. You’re yelling at everyone about everything, all the time, really loudly

A too-full schedule, whiny kids and a behemoth laundry pile can turn even the most even-tempered person into Kathy Bates in "Misery." (Just ask my husband. Although to my credit I never took a sledgehammer to his legs. Yet.)

3. Your multi-tasking is starting to reach ridiculous heights

Maybe you’re trying to breastfeed, talk on the phone and choose Pantone chips, or perhaps you’re coaching soccer, doing your taxes and texting your mom while you're fermenting your kombucha. It all adds up to trying to do too many things at the same time, and you need to stop the crazy merry-go-round and get off.

4. Your diet hasn’t been this bad since you were 17

Parenting is notoriously bad for our stomachs. Aside from the stress, there doesn’t seem to ever be enough time to eat anything resembling a balanced meal. But think about making some changes if your last lunch consisted of a bag of Hot Cheetos and two Laffy Taffys washed down with a Yoo-hoo.

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5. You consider a late-night trip to the grocery store a “night out”

When my daughter was a few months old another mom asked me if I wanted to meet her one evening ... at Trader Joe's. I wasn’t sure if I should cry for her or punch her in the face. I think It’s perfectly OK to find joy in the simple things, but you deserve better than an evening spent shopping for juice boxes.

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