Of course, you can only hold onto so many things before something starts to slip or drop. Usually the thing that drops for me is the good habits that keep me healthy. I stay up late, I forget to shower, I don't drink enough water, I can't seem to find the time I need to refresh myself. Instead of doing the things that would actually help to improve my state of mind I do things that will just help me to feel good right now and get through this moment. I surf the internet instead of washing the dishes. I eat chocolate instead of grabbing a piece of fruit. I let my kids watch more tv instead of taking them out to the park or phoning up a friend with kids. I yell at my children once they are already into mischief, instead of stopping their behavior as soon as I see it starting. I do everything wrong.
The more I make the wrong choices, the worse I feel about myself. And the worse I feel about myself, the more I feel defeated by life. And the more I feel defeated by life, the harder it is to think positively and problem solve well, or to deal with my children in a positive and proactive manner.
I am feeling better now, after getting a lot of free time to sleep and just be during our vacation, thanks to my husband and the fact that this was the first vacation I haven't been breastfeeding in about 5 years.
So the question is, when things get tough, how can you keep yourself from falling into burn out in the first place? I was talking with another one of my mom friends about this, and we came up with a couple of ideas:
Hire a regular babysitter -- if you and your husband are both maxxed out, hire a babysitter to give you a break once a week. Even two hours of child free time can be enough to get you through the week
Make a self care checklist to go through when you are feeling particularly aggrivated -- I find that often when my temper is about to flare at my kids, it is because my needs are not being met. But a list of 10 things that stop me from being irritable can help when I am beyond reasoning. For instance, my list might include:
- eat a snack
- have a shower
- wash your face and get dressed
- change your location
- find something funny about the situation
- drink some water
- get some exersise
- play with the boys for 10 min
Get your sleep -- even if it means you don't get time to read a book and check your email. Sleep will help you to think clearly and that will help everyone have a better day.
Do the necessary before the fun -- I am one of those people who is easily bored by routine. I have to remind myself that the routine tidying and organizing and cleaning I do is necessary to help us have a good day the next day. If I go to sleep without finishing the dishes, it means I have to wash them after breakfast when I should be playing with the boys for a bit, or taking them to the park. If I don't get the laundry cleaned and folded, we will be scrambling to find Andrew pants for school in the morning. If I get the necessary things done, our days will run more smoothly and will be able to be more in the moment
On the other hand, take some time to recharge -- Find an activity that feeds your mind and soul. Then find a way to do it. I need to be creative, so I have my sewing machine in the corner of the playroom. That way I can get a little sewing time in during the day while the boys play (most days I can get 15 - 30 min of sewing before the fights start). If you need to read, bring a book to the park and see if you can get a few pages read while the kids are busy playing.
Create regular breaks for everyone throughout the day
-- there's a reason why coffee breaks and lunches are enforced in the workplace. Our ability to reason and respond well goes down hill if we do not take breaks. Sit and have a snack with your kids in the morning instead of rushing around while they eat. Enforce a quiet time in the afternoons where the kids are quiet and relatively self sufficient while you take a break.
What do you do to take care of yourself and stay out of burn out?