I think one of the keys to avoiding working mom burnout is to ask for help when we need it. I must admit though, that I am the absolute worst at doing so. After speaking to some other working moms about this, I realized I'm not alone. Why is it that women find it so hard to ask for help???
I think the main reason is that we feel if we need help, we have failed in some way - yes, Super Mom cannot do it all on her own. Imagine! But why isn't that OK? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it all and even worse, do it perfectly? Is this self-imposed or is it society's expectations? I'm not sure I have all the answers, but I do know that if we are aware of the pressure we place on our own shoulders, just maybe we can do something about it.
So I was trying to think of some of the underlying reasons we have this challenge (other than feeling like a failure just for asking) - here's what I came up with... we feel people will judge us in some way or won't understand, we're too proud, delegating goes against our nature, only we know how to do it the "right" way, we want someone to offer without having to ask (i.e. this usually applies to our spouse), it makes us feel needy or lazy, or perhaps we're afraid of potential rejection. When I sit back and review this list, it appears all of the reasons are pretty much self-imposed. Wow, now that's a surprise (can you hear the sarcasm?).
Wouldn't it be great to come up with a bunch of tasks we can put on the "help list" and get those around us to give a lending hand? I usually only do this when I'm feeling really overwhelmed and at the breaking point. My husband will actually sit down with the calendar and say OK, let's see what I can do, but it's usually only when I'm totally frazzled. I guess at other times he feels I'm just handling it (because, big shocker, I don't say anything until I'm totally frazzled). So I guess the lesson here is that nobody is going to make the offer when they think you are managing just fine - and of course we usually put on a facade to make others feel we are managing just fine... you know so they don't think we're failures and all.
So I say, let's start asking for help (it will take practise). It's OK. We don't have to do it all. Really. I swear. It doesn't make us any less wonderful as a mother, wife & professional - as a matter of fact, maybe it will even make us a better mother, wife & professional. And now I really have to put my money where my mouth is and practise what I preach! I'll let you know how that goes... and let me know how it works for you.