It’s January and I am burned out. This past holiday season wore me down with three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Throw in two birthdays, a holiday play and finishing out the year within my private practice and this mama felt like a burnt piece of toast. Fried. Crisp. Anxiety was high every day, all day.
On December 26th, I was determined to break this cycle that I had created. I needed to make some changes and build in time for self-care.
Here are three things I do to help when I’m feeling burned out:
Mamas everywhere, build in downtime into your schedule. I have written so many blogs where I encourage parents to build in downtime for their children at the end of each day. I encourage you to do the same. I’m not talking about several hours, but maybe 30 minutes or even an entire hour every other day. On the weekend, take an afternoon off to watch your favorite show or read a book.
We all need to disconnect from our daily routine, responsibilities
and our children. This doesn’t require a fancy spa day (but if you can fit one in, do it!) but rather a time when you are not thinking about what needs to happen next, today or tomorrow or this week. Just a short time when you are focusing on how your body feels when you stop running and processing to-do lists.
Although many moms will insist that this is luxury time that they really don’t need, think about how little energy you have on most days or how easily frustrated you become because you feel overstimulated and overwhelmed. In the end, everybody in your family benefits from your downtime.
2. Say No.
I am the worst at saying “no” even when I know that it will be
a stretch, and there is little time for me to get to what it is that is being asked of me (and what I agreed to). I’m a “yes” mom when I should be a, “Let me see if I can fit this in and I’ll get back to you,” mom. Before you commit to wrapping baskets at the next tricky tray fundraiser, pause and ask for time to process the request before you say yes.
And as you process, assess the following: how long will this task honestly take me? Where in my schedule can I fit in the time to do this? Will this task take away from my self-care time? Will this commitment dip into my time that I want to spend with my children or partner?
After you answer these questions, honestly, make the assessment if this commitment is a good investment of your time and energy. If the answer is no, thank the person for thinking of you and respectfully decline. I know this is a hard thing to do (believe me, I get it), but you will feel like you’ve got your own back!
3. Take Shortcuts.
My husband teases me that I often find the most difficult, most time-consuming way to work toward a goal rather than finding the shortest path. Unfortunately, I come from a mindset that in order for things to be done right, they require a thorough investment of my time and energy. I’m not just talking about running a business, I’m also talking about my everyday tasks, like making dinner, food shopping, etc.
Related: How School Bullying Caused My Anxiety
What I am learning to do now is to find shortcuts to get through daily tasks so that I’m not spending several hours going to the
supermarket, packing, unpacking my groceries and preparing dinner. Instead, I am finding services that will deliver my groceries to me, and ordering vegetables that are already chopped, or a meat that is already marinated. The crockpot is my friend, and my kids pack their snacks and I make sandwiches. Two days per week, they can purchase lunch at school so that I can catch a break.
Shortcuts are not a sign of being a “bad’ mama,” as I’ve had to battle this bad thought. It’s about self-care. My children will not be devastated, nor will their health suffer, if they eat frozen broccoli versus fresh broccoli. A mama’s irrational thoughts run deep! Be aware of those thoughts and then throw them out with Wednesday’s trash.
Being a mama means that we are always caring for others and
setting our own needs to the side. Our needs don’t go away because we set them to the side, rather they grow and we risk becoming burned out. In the end, nobody wins when mama is burned out. Engage in regular self-care and give yourself extra time for the days and week or months when you feel like you need even more. It’s OK mama, go sit on the couch. Everything and everyone will be right there when you get back.