A student sleeping with a book on their head

Mom’s Academic Burnout

Too Much

My brain is screaming “STOP” and I continue to force the verbal readings of one literary text after another. For hours,  Biology, English, and an anti-war novel; full of gruesome and triggering stories play on and on. The video on how to write an argumentative essay plays while I cook diner and pack lunches. It’s every day, day after day, that I continue to cram more information than my brain can process and I am beginning to burn out.


A student sleeping with a book on their head
Photo by Tony Tran on Unsplash


I know the signs of burnout…….. I have done it before. I can’t sleep well, I keep losing my keys, I feel tired all the time, and my vertigo has returned.  Learning from my past mistakes, I know change is needed. I decided to write about it in the midst of the overwhelm, because, I am sure many other moms out there are faced with similar situations. Its’ been five months since I put this on the paper, and I since learned I made the Dean’s list. The cost was high and not the only thing worth striving for. As nice as awards and achievement are, feeling well and satisfied in work, school, and family are important. Together, we can live meaningful lives, fulfill our deepest calling, and still find time for self-care.

A big bath full of bubbles
A hot bubble bath

Itching to get on with my education and competing with someone that I was never intended to compete with, I upped my game and signed up for a 100% course load. Since I am a student with a disability, I only need to be at a 60% course load, but I chose to go ahead full throttle focusing on what others could do instead of what I am meant to do.

I’m sure for anyone reading, you can predict just how my semester went? It was three and a half months of tireless multitasking, juggling so many balls that I could not tell which one dropped. Somehow, the vacuum found them, far too late! My relationships with my kids, friends, work, and the quality of cooking and housecleaning all suffered. I was sinking.

Some people that meant well told me I should skip the unnecessary assignments, lower my GPA standard and be ok with taking a C. After all, the first couple of years don’t really count, right? This advice doesn’t work for me. It is important for me to do my work with all my best effort and to understand it. I feel that each course is a foundation for the next one. For example, my first Social Work course taught the history of social work along with the basic foundational methods. I learned about policy and things like, the Conservative government believes that each person should be self-reliant and has little compassion for anyone that becomes ill or addicted to drugs, while the NDP advocates for funds to help those that fall upon hard times. In the USA, we saw the Obama administration pass through health care for all, followed by Donald Trump stripping away much of what Obama achieved. Why is this important? Had I skipped through much of this information and accepted a C grade, I would have struggled to understand the next few classes, as they assume that I know that information. Knowing which government stands behind the values of Social work is important.

Feeling Sick

No matter what is causing you to sink in life it’s important to know where to reach out for help. I was beginning to feel sick and in search of help, I booked an appointment with my academic advisor. She listened as I shared my frustrations. My learning challenges make my learning take 2 – 3 x’s longer than a typical student, to complete my reading and write my papers. She made a visual map for me and showed me what it would look like if I slowed down and reduced my course load. My graduation date would be a little longer, but It would allow me to work at the pace I need to understand everything and have less stress every day. She advised me to drop my philosophy class as it was not required and put all my energy into the required courses to complete my Social Work degree.


A person under the covers sick
Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash


Each and every Mom has different goals, passions, dreams, desires, and responsibilities. We share the human need for connection, joy, rest, love, and self-compassion along with all the other things that we do each day.

A few takeaways that I wanted to share with you:

  • Goals that are from a desire inside and not to compete or do what others want are more enjoyable and we are more likely to accomplish them,
  • Our body is amazing and will tell us when the signs of burnout arrive, we just have to listen,
  • Seeking guidance from someone that you trust or is qualified to advise is not a weakness but wise,
  • The world is full of judgment and it’s good to be kind to yourself.

Some signs of burnout according to Dr. Leaf are insomnia, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Brene Brown talks about burnout among parents in an interview with Amelia and Emily Nagoski. I watched a great Ted x talk on anxiety by Jesse Giunta Rafeh. She shares a simple and powerful exercise at the end that you may enjoy.


The End Result

I finished my classes and maintained my GPA, made the Dean’s list, and made time to have that nice bubble bath. When I examined my priorities I realized that I spent a lot of time with people that were not really interested in my life. I’ll write about that another time, but what is most important is that I have found a balance that is working and the closeness with my family that matters most, has been restored.



  • https://drleaf.com/blogs/news/1
  • https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-emily-and-amelia-nagoski-on-burnout-and-how-to-complete-the-stress-cycle/