The tagline of this blog is “Real Mom. Real Kids. Real Life.” I intentionally chose the word “real” because I wanted to keep myself accountable and refrain from creating this picture of a mom who has it all together. I didn’t want you imagining me standing in the kitchen with my hair fixed pretty and make up on. That isn’t me.
This is me.
I’m twenty-four years old and have been married for almost five years. I am an idealistic people pleaser who loves perfection. I try to do way to much and am way to hard on myself when it all comes crashing down. In short, I’m human. And I let myself burn out all to often. I call these burnout days my “I don’t want to be a mom anymore” days.
It happens to all of us
It would be hypocritical of me to write a post on how to avoid burnout because I fall into it so often. But I know I’m not alone hitting burnout mode because I’m not the only human on the planet. Maybe you don’t struggle with mom burnout. Maybe you’re burnt out at work or keeping your house up. Whatever the case, burnout can happen to anyone who tries to do it all or be it all.
What is Burnout?
I’m so guilty of using terms I hear or read without fully understanding their meaning. “Burnout” is just one example of those terms. It looks different from person to person, so I can’t give you a list of symptoms to help you identify if you’re experiencing burnout. But you probably don’t need a list anyway. It’s usually pretty clear when burnout mode hits.
For me, burnout looks like extreme irritability. I am easily exasperated by pretty much everything: the clutter in my home, my failure to do something, the endless needs of the demanding tiny humans. It’s this feeling of constantly being behind and I’m just barely keeping it together. But the biggest sign burnout has hit is the fact that my “flight” instinct is in high gear. If I find myself wanting to hide or get away from my home and responsibilities multiple times a day, I know it’s time to hit the reset button.
Reset and Recharge
I won’t give you a specific list of things to do to remove burnout because just as burnout looks different to everyone, their “reset programming” is different too. But I will tell you the trick I’ve found that helped me determine what helps me get out of and ward off burnout.
Energizing. I tried different hobbies as my self-care, burnout avoidance tactics. But many of them only added to my burnout because they became one more thing I had to do and made me feel like a failure when I didn’t do them. But when I was listening to a podcast on self-care, the host kept using the term “re-energizing” and “refreshing”. And at one point it finally clicked: I should be doing things that energize me and fill me up. Things that I look forward to doing and that are “get to dos” not “need to dos”.
My reset buttons
In my journey to refreshment, I have been surprised by what actually refreshes me. I always watched T.V. after the kids went to bed, because it was easy to do. But I’ve learned that isn’t the most refreshing thing I could be doing because it keeps me up later causing me to lose sleep, again adding to burnout. So, I had to find other forms of entertainment and relaxation.
- Reading. I’m not a huge reader. But when I find a good book and get lost in it, I feel so much better at the end of the night and fall asleep faster and (probably) sleep better.
- Scrapbooking. I LOVE working on my photo albums, a hobby passed down to me by my mother. She is always telling me that she loved scrapbooking because it was something she could do that would STAY done. (Every mom’s dream right?) I’ve found I’m the same way. Dishes and laundry will always need to be done again, but once I finish that photo album page, it stays finished and I can admire it anytime I need encouragement.
- Writing and Journaling. I’ve always loved writing and have kept a journal for as long as I can remember. While I’ve never been consistent with them, I always come back to them to release my creative juices, get my thoughts out, and relieve the stress and pressure building up in my mind. Just in writing this post, I feel a huge difference in my attitude from when I started the first sentence.
I also enjoy exercising and organizing as stress relievers. I know. I’m weird.
Your way, not mine
I can’t stress this enough: WE AREN’T THE SAME PERSON. What is energizing and relaxing to me may not be to you. The point is to help you find the things that you find relaxing. Don’t force it. If it’s frustrating you or is causing guilt or more exhaustion. STOP. That activity isn’t for you. Think about what it is that causes your burnout and employ a counter measure.
But do not feel guilty. Don’t feel bad about burnout. It happens to all of us. Remember God is good and his mercies are new every morning. Don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself. You need to fill yourself up otherwise you will have nothing left to pour out to others. Even the Perfect Human, Jesus had to take time for rest and refreshment so He could serve others. (I think His hobby of choice was sailing.) Furthermore, God himself established a pattern of rest from creation. He wants us to be refreshed so we can serve Him.
Don’t use this self-care as an excuse to be selfish. This is where my self evaluation comes into play. I am always trying to make sure my motives are in line with God’s word.
Provider and Sustainer
And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Burnout can leave us feeling like we have nothing left to give. We feel like we are walking on thin ice that will break at any moment and it’s frustrating to feel that way, adding to the burnout sensation. What’s worse is that it always escalates when Paul S. is at work and there is no hope of a break until bed time. So finding time to do anything to help reset my mood is nearly impossible. But even if it’s the middle of the day and you can’t stop to take a couple minutes to yourself, remember you can always rest on God and His promises. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And He will supply all your need according to the riches of His grace.