Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mama Burn Out

You might have noticed that I haven't been around this space much lately. I've been leaving most of the work to Kris. This was due to some serious burn out. This has just been one of those years in our life as a family where it was one thing after another. It seems like when a family has one of those years, it is often the mother that is left trying to hold things together.

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?

1 comment:

  1. I know this is an old post but I read part of this post in a book (Momology) and had to look up the blog. It has given me a new way to look at all those healthy habits that I struggle to fit into my life so thank you!




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