Single Mom Burnout: Understanding The Invisible Struggles

by Mother Huddle Staff
Single Mom Burnout Understanding The Invisible Struggles

Wherever you go, you’ll hear parenting is incredibly rewarding and satisfying. It is valid if both mother and father contribute to the child’s upbringing. We cannot deny the tremendous struggle of single parents; many have to suffer from burnout. Both mother and father are support systems to each other, while single parenting is highly stressful and exhausting. Single parent burnout is the real-time experience of having physical or mental collapse due to excessive work, stress, and exhaustion. For single moms, it is the norm. They may experience intense common mental effects, which may be inevitable at a point. Single moms have to recognize its signs and symptoms carefully.

What Is Single Mom Stress Syndrome?

Eventually, earning single-handedly or receiving child support for child care is the most horrible aspect of parenting. It is not always about financial stress; single moms also struggle with emotional conditions. Single moms have to suffer from loneliness and depression. 

This is what single mom burnout means: to be over-exhausted and overwhelmed by single parenting, resulting in emotional tiredness. It might also cause detachment of parents from children or feeling “not enough” for the child.

Confronting Single Parents Struggle Heads-On 

Single parenting is highly demanding. Single-parent exhaustion can be understood by handling double of everything. The single parent stress involves a perfect balance of your life, emotions, and yourself. Single parents develop anxiety and depression over time, which are common mental problems. Stress is significantly caused due to three critical factors: economic condition, child support, and increased need for child care. The single mom struggles are discussed below:-

  • Social Isolation

Having a life partner involves sharing good and evil in life. Without a partner, everything is on the shoulders of the mom. It might make the person feel disconnected from the outer world due to parenting. This is the major symptom of single mom burnout. Loneliness strikes every day in varied and new ways, and it can be consistent. It tends to set in mind when you have no one to share.

  • Psychological Stress

There are so many exhausted single moms who don’t like asking for help or believe asking for help would be a need. A single mom can manage everything independently, but managing her stress factors is the most challenging. Stressors lead to anxiety, depression, mood disorder, or PTSD. So many women develop the habit of alcohol or drugs. Sleep deprivation is the leading cause of psychological stress. 

  • Financial Stress

Another single mother’s stress and top concern is finances. Single mothers experience unique financial problems, depending on whether they receive child support. Apart from spending on child care, mothers have to save for the future, manage necessities, spend on transportation, and spend on their own care. Many women choose to do two jobs to save more. Women with poor money management are likely to suffer homelessness or poverty.

First Signs Of Single-Parent Burnout

First Signs Of Single-Parent Burnout

Single parenting incorporates various negative feelings behavioral, and relationship problems. The workload is intense, and most of the time, moms do not get sufficient quality time to spend with their children. It may also cause your child to be indisciplined when you don’t spend enough time with them. Burnout develops feelings of “inefficiency”, that whatever you’re doing is not enough for the child. The other signs may involve:-

  • Start Yelling At Children

Frustration and anxiety might cause you to be “short-tempered”. You might develop a constant feeling of irritability and anger with your kids that you don’t even hesitate to yell at them. Anger not only affects you, but it will also psychologically impact your kids. They might also experience anxiousness and withdrawal feelings. You cannot make a child obedient by yelling because it develops fear. They will not learn what you want them to.

  • Raising Children On Autopilot

Autopilot refers to driving everything without thinking about it but ensuring the needs are fulfilled. If you’re looking after your kid on autopilot, take a second thought over it. Mental depression makes you disconnect from people, even from loved ones. Later on, you may find it hard to connect with your kid, so pay adequate attention to them prior. Mothers should be mentally and physically present with their kids, or the likelihood of accidents is increased.

  • Feeling Resentful

Resentment is considered to be the initial symptom of single-mom burnout. Eventually, you’ll start ignoring the positive feelings and cover them up with dense, overwhelming thoughts. The reason behind this might also be you don’t have any good friends to share your feelings with. Rather than indulging in it, you should learn to process it. You might experience “mom guilt”, about your reactions or behavior. Another prominent feeling is “parental guilt” of inadequacy.

  • You Feel Depleted All The Time

It is true that single moms have to deal with extra demands and have lots of responsibilities with limited resources. Even when you get enough sleep, you feel exhausted. That’s the sign of single-parent burnout. Mental and physical exhaustion feels like you’ve been draining your inner energy, leading to emotional detachment from loved ones. It generates a feeling of inadequacy with no sense of accomplishment. You might not find motivation in anything but feel low all the time.

  • You’re Not Interested In Anything

Increased fatigue and tiredness put on mental and physical limitations. You’re often tempted to follow harmful behavior like smoking and alcohol. Such conditions make the situation worse. It develops the feeling of being cut down from the present or not feeling connected with their loved ones. When your mind starts accepting your low worth, you don’t find interest in anything. You have no motivation left for it.

  • Closing In On Yourself

The most disturbing sign of burnout due to the stress of single parenting is withdrawal. You just don’t want to be around anyone else. This is a constant feeling. Over time, you’ll feel overwhelmed but do not want to share with anyone or ask for help. It is a common symptom of mental problems. You cannot avoid negative feelings.

Single-Parent Burnout Symptoms

Single mom’s burnout symptoms can be easily observed when you see the difference between how you used to be and how you are now. When you start observing change for a long duration, please do not consider it due to work fatigue. Burnout tends to ruin your relationship with your child. Every mother should start identifying and taking action on the initial symptoms of burnout. The symptoms are:-

  • Irritability, Anxiety Or Depression

Overwhelming feelings are the typical guest for a mind, like exhaustion. Anxiety will be identified by feeling inundated by little stuff that didn’t use to affect you much in the past. Some of us feel it lying in bed; it’s time to get up, but the mind doesn’t want to. Burnout needs to be resolved or will generate many negative feelings, leading to depression. Single moms might feel less confident, have low self-esteem, and prominently hopeless. When we can’t share, that makes us irritable about small things.  

  • Reduced Immune Function

The body’s immunological response tends to slow down when you constantly take tension. A report has concluded that long-term stress significantly decreases the immune system’s response. The reason behind this is simply the depleted number of lymphocytes in the body, which fight against antigens. You can also observe its indication that you’ve become more susceptible to common infections. 

The effects can be observed on your skin as well. Your burnt or injured skin will take longer to regenerate or heal. 

Poor immunological health will also impact your activeness.

  • Decreased Motivation

When single moms start getting tired in life, nothing seems to be exciting to them. There appears to be no exhilaration about the achievements. Sometimes, people get too busy with their work, and they forget about what they love to do. They get normal with a work-cooking-eat-sleep cycle. When you start observing differences in the perception, consider it briefly. It could be a significant indicator of single-mom burnout. Lack of motivation in life is a severe problem that makes your world gloomy in every direction.

  • Reduced Productivity

The everyday challenge of feeding, educating, and caring for a child could gradually eat up your productivity. Single mothers have their careers and passion to follow, but they often have to sacrifice it due to family responsibilities. Due to societal barriers as well, women put restrictions on themselves. However, women are capable of whatever they want to do. Productivity can be significantly improved by redefining your goals, setting a plan, and executing successfully. Small achievement gives mental stimulation, helps enhance motivation, and improves productivity.

  • Sleep Problems

When you have tons of tension in mind, your sound quality sleep is sacrificed. Even when you go to bed completely worn out, thinking you’ll fall asleep soon, you can’t. You start remembering what you have done for the whole day, thinking about what to do the next day, and look at yourself; you’re awake now. Your sleep has vanished. According to research, 24 percent of single moms experience trouble sleeping at least four times a week. Also, women’s sleep is sidetracked by horrible dreams. 

  • Changes In Mood Or Appetite

The mood and appetite of a person can fall or rise depending on different factors. When you experience depression, you’ll start observing changes in your eating habits. You’ll observe your appetite has changed. More commonly, people with depression have less appetite and often deal with drastic weight loss. Due to this, one might feel more frustrated or irritated towards anyone. This could be a prominent indication of depression as an initial symptom. Single moms with depression don’t tend to enjoy their food much; therefore, they feel low motivation to eat.

  • Health Problems

Burnout puts strain on the whole health. Along with sick days, you will experience changes in your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional harmony. That’s why single mothers develop withdrawal and depression-like conditions with habits of intoxication. Mental problems are so worse that even suicidal thoughts will not freak you out. Burnout increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and respiratory issues. People with burnout feel like they are empty and can’t cope with life changes. The common symptoms of single-mom burnout include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and anger issues.

How Do You Get Out Of Single-Parent Burnout?

How Do You Get Out Of Single-Parent Burnout

It’s a fact that single parents are more prone to psychological conditions than married parents. Sometimes, the fatigue of single motherhood gets so intense that you cannot sleep. Even when you wake up in the morning, you first see hopelessness. This demotivation tends to ruin your relationship with the child; therefore it’s better to take control measures before it’s too late. There are several steps that you can follow to get rid of single mother burnout given below:-

  • Look From The Other Side

This is a universal truth: not everything will happen just as you planned. We often think something has not happened in a certain way. We put limits on ourselves that there is a particular scenario. Sometimes, we need to accept options that initially might not sound perfect. That same option might open up several ways ahead that you never thought about. There would be some options you will find impossible, but it still is an option. Your empowerment is what matters every time.

  • Reduce Requirements

Single moms do have a realization of their financial condition; therefore, they plan before their expenditure plan. While planning, keep three basic needs in mind: safety, shelter, and food. You should ensure you have a proper routine and a well-planned budget. Non-essential items can be brought anytime in the future; savings are more important for survival. Single moms can also utilize a support system to save and provide child care at the same time. For example, joining other single moms groups, carpool shares, or trying sleepover exchanges.

Remember, your self-care should be non-negotiable. 

  • Get Rid Of Guilt

Exhausted single parents often feel guilt about raising their child in a single-parent family rather than a two-parent family. Not only the parent but the child also has to go through some struggles. Single parents are constantly worried about their economic burden, family conflicts, and societal stigmas. Some may feel like they have robbed their children of something really important. 

All these beliefs are of no value but are enough to cause a mental breakdown. Realities of life are with you; there should be no room for guilt. Instead, find gratitude in daily life and appreciate what you have.

  • Prioritize Self-Care

Single moms are so busy that they often neglect self-care. Incorporate yoga, exercise, a good diet, and family time into your routine. When you prioritize self-care, you are less likely to develop “escapist” feelings. You become more mindful of what you are doing, your stress will significantly decrease, and sleep issues will be resolved. Pay attention to the importance of prioritization in any aspect of life. Self-care is vital for you, you have the right to say “no” to anything inappropriate. Parenting doesn’t end your goals; that’s still yours; prioritize mindfully. 

  • Enjoy Small Victories

Single mom exhaustion can be tackled by pursuing favorite activities. Everyone has some passion and hobbies to follow, but they can’t because of the tremendous responsibilities. It’s hard for single moms because they have doubled responsibilities. Single motherhood doesn’t end your life; you’ve learned to survive difficult situations. In such conditions, even small victories can bring immense happiness. Breaking all the societal stereotypes, single mothers should bring out their hobbies, travel, explore, and volunteer or witness meaningful things.

  • Stay Positive

Stress is just a psychological response to the changes in life. It is normal until you take it as motivation for you to excel. Burnout single moms cannot efficiently provide what their children need; changes need to be incorporated into perspective. To adapt to any significant change, you must learn to stay positive. You don’t need to compare yourself with other moms with home help. When you change your attitude, you’ll observe your mental pressure being shifted. Even your child would be happy to see you happy.

  • Set A Daily Routine

A healthy daily routine is a must for a tired single mom. Routine helps keep you on track even when you don’t want to. You can become an excellent planner and manager with a good routine. Distribute time for various activities like:-

  1. Exercise
  2. Walks
  3. Stretching
  4. Entertainment
  5. Reading or writing
  6. Self-care activities
  7. Refreshing shower
  8. Various activities for the day: jobs or household chore
  9. Children time
  10. Eating
  11. Sleep

The routine also safeguards you from unnecessary feelings. 

  • Relax

There are many forms of exercise that would be helpful for the overwhelmed single mom feeling trapped in their lives. For relaxation, they can go for slower movements, stretching exercises, and deep breathing. Meditation does the best work for the body, relieves anxiety, stress, and chronic pain, and ultimately boosts the body’s energy levels. 

When you practice deep breathing, your body naturally relaxes. It sets a position to take a deep rest. Your nervous system would be receiving more of the body’s oxygen. Find a quiet place for relaxation.

  • Consider Alternative Childcare Options

Alternative childcare options share your burden. The first option could be turning to family and friends for child care. Another affordable alternative can be a babysitting cooperative. The choice you are going to make depends upon your child’s age. 

Some people also choose to babysit in exchange for childcare. The two parents join hands to look after each other’s kids, which is better than traditional daycare. 

Some non-profit centers also run various programs to provide affordable options for parents. In-home daycare centers could also be an option.

  • Create A Supportive Network

The pressure of parenting is immense, especially when you’ve no one to help. That pressure is intensified with the anxiety arising due to loneliness. To avoid this, single parents should join support networks to communicate about what’s going on in their lives. A supportive network is very beneficial for the single mom tired of struggling with poor mental health. Small talk can bring a big change. Single parents can also connect to local communities, childcare centers, religious groups, or other support groups along with the child.

  • Ask For Help

Sometimes, stress becomes a normal part of life; you tend to remain consistent with it. Mental conditions like depression will take no longer to develop a higher risk of suicidal thoughts at one point. In such conditions, you will need to share your situation with others. You should not hesitate to ask for help. You can talk to your family or relatives and ask for any kind of help. Find good friends, spend a good time with them and share your problems. If you still feel depressed, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help.

Stress Management For Stressed Single Moms

Locked up in your room, all of the tensions revolving around your head, you’re extremely stressed. Sometimes, any motivation seems to be negligible when you’re extremely stressed. Single mothers should not hesitate to ask for help. When stress is not managed by yourself, seek professional help. Professional people better understand your mental condition and may suggest better ways to deal with stress. The other effective measures you can take are:-

  • Healthy Lifestyle

The single mom overwhelmed often like to have quick fixes, like coffee or any sugary stuff, to kick the stress out. All those junks provide only temporary relief. To be efficient in your chores, you should give proper fuel to the body. Your diet must include protein-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and vegetables.

Don’t neglect the power of regular exercise. Try to indulge in physical activities for at least 30 minutes every day. Go for a walk.

  • Relaxation Mode

Research has concluded that exercise not only keeps you physically fit but it also helps in managing stress. Relaxation can be done any way you want; the only thing to keep in mind is you need to be calm for that moment. Some people listen to music to calm down, while some focus on deep breathing. Relaxation doesn’t require your whole day to sit down; even as little as 5 minutes can be used for it. Yoga would be highly beneficial.

  • Focus On Mental Health

Single parents have so many stressors in life. Common stressors among them are lack of balance in life, financial conditions, lack of personal time, isolation, and loneliness. Before you develop serious mental issues, make sure you take effective measures to improve your mental health. The steps you can take are below:-

  1. Show affection to your loved ones.
  2. Take out some quiet personal time.
  3. Look after your physical health.
  4. Develop a positive attitude.
  5. Start accepting your limitations.
  • Professional Assistance

No wonder stress is an automatic reaction; it attacks the way you think. All you need to know is how to manage your stress; otherwise, seek professional help. You can look for mental health professionals who have expertise in this field. They might help you with therapeutic techniques like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). This treatment helps with anxiety, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders, sleep issues, and depression. It involves impactful, time-limited sessions with healthcare professionals.


Single moms are at a higher risk of developing psychological single mothers stress than married moms. The challenges faced by single-parent families can eventually cause single parent exhaustion at one point. Single moms have to deal with many responsibilities, including child care, education, shelter, job chores, household, and constant loneliness. They often experience being overburdened. Keeping all the commitments aside for some time, a single mom must focus on her overall health. Raising children on autopilot is daunting for the children. No humans are machines; single moms should give themselves a chance to heal emotionally, physically, and mentally. 


Is It Normal To Be Exhausted As A Single Mom?

Yes, it is normal to feel exhausted as single moms have a double duty. Regular house, job roles, proper child care, all these activities are done single-handedly by the single mother. When they can’t get time for themselves, they may feel exhausted.

Why Is Single Parenting So Exhausting?

Single parents become more prone to burnout due to their hectic schedules and less time for relaxation. Some parents can’t get enough sleep; they feel exhausted all day. Financial stress, emotional breakdown, and juggling of responsibilities contribute to exhaustion.

At What Age Does Parenting Get Less Exhausting?

More precisely, there is no specific age at which parenting would become less exhausting. However, parenting becomes much more manageable when the children reach age 6. Therefore, some parents consider this age as a “magical age.”

What Are The Psychological Effects Of Being A Single Mother?

Due to financial hardships, single parents often experience mental pressures. Some parents also feel isolated from outside surroundings. Single moms will likely develop many mental conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. 

How Do You Deal With Being A Single Mother?

Being a single mother is not a cakewalk; she must fulfill all the jobs alone. Single mothers can seek help from their friends and relatives to make it easy for them. She has to lead step by step but gradually.

What To Do When You’re An Overwhelmed Single Mom?

Being overwhelmed doesn’t bring any advantage but can make the condition worse. Single mothers should make time for them, maintain a positive outlook, and take a brief account of their lifestyle choices. When mothers themselves take care of their mental health, managing the kids becomes way more achievable.


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