The last few weeks of my life have been absolutely exhausting, and I have reached my limit. I am stressed. I am tired. I am sore. I am sick. I am burnt out.
I should have slowed down, but life happened and I didn't see any other option than to keep going at the same speed I always do. But of course, I ended up here: With a headache that will not disappear unless I'm sleeping, a throat that is so sore I can barely swallow, and absolutely zero motivation to do anything at all but lie in bed. But unfortunately my to-do list has not gotten any shorter.
I am stuck in what I like to call a Mama Burnout.
Mama Burnout. When your life is moving at top speed, and you forget to take care of yourself by doing things like getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, taking a couple of minutes to take a vitamin and a breather, and a shower. And all of a sudden it catches up to you. And you can't do anything. Like... nothing.
Well, if you're like me and you feel like your mama world has come crashing down and now you're stuck with a list a mile long and the inability to get any of it done without wanting to cry/drop dead/scream, then you might be in a Mama Burnout too.
And for the sake of never wanting this to happen again, I thought I would put together a little list of how to avoid Mama Burnout, in hopes that we all take better care of ourselves... for the sake of our laundry piles, if nothing else.
This is something I am not good at, and I know I'm not alone. I do not like to feel like I am changing my pace at all. Especially because I like to think that I can do it all all the time without a pause. *snort* The fact is no one (I repeat, NO ONE) is expecting you to be running around at top speed all the time. When it comes to our daily lives, we are running a mama marathon, not a sprint, and we need to pace ourselves if we want to have any chance of coming out alive.
Slowing down might mean you have to get the groceries delivered instead of spending an hour or two at the store. Slowing down might mean that you take a personal day from work to catch up on sleep, home projects, and day-time errands instead of staying up late into the night getting it done. Slowing down might mean that you don't volunteer for the Class Party next week or the Soccer Snacks the week after that or the Church Social the week after..... You get what I'm saying right? Slowing down will normally mean doing a little less, mama.
This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. I don't like to think that others are missing out on something because of something I'm unable to do. Especially when it comes to my. kids. I hate thinking that they're missing out on playing at the park because I have to work, or wait for the plumber, or do the laundry. I hate feeling like my husband misses out on getting a day off on Saturday because I've got a few projects for us to complete for the weekend.
I constantly have to remind myself that there will always be a sacrifice no matter what I do, and that I'm never going to be able to make everyone happy all of the time. Perspective, mama. Take it easy on yourself and remember that you're only one person. One person can't do it all on their own, and you shouldn't feel like you need to sacrifice your sleep/diet/mental health just to get your kids a little more outside time on a Thursday afternoon.
Full disclosure, mamas: I am a chronic rescheduler. If you know me, you know that I will almost never keep the same time/day of my original plan. I don't love that about myself, because I don't like to think of myself as unreliable, but I do think, as a mama, you need to be okay with rescheduling to avoid burnout. Whether it's a playdate, a dentist appointment, or a trip to the zoo, you may need to put it off for a week or two if things are piling up faster than you can get them done.
More often than not, rescheduling doesn't harm anyone, and a lot of mamas avoid doing it because they don't want to be flaky or they think it'll be more work to set a different time. I think it's a necessary part of being a mama, and once you accept that life happens without you being able to stop it, you'll be much more comfortable "penciling" in your plans, instead of putting them on your calendar in "permanent marker."
Switch it Up
If you find that you are hitting the Mama Burnout stage a lot, and that you move at lightning speed and then crash, you might want to switch up how you're getting things done on the daily. Whether that means you make a more strict schedule for yourself that includes downtime and sleep and food, or that means taking a bunch of things off of the list to allow you the time you need to heal and recover daily, you need to make sure you're not burning out and taking days at a time to recover as a mama zombie.
I think switching it up might mean getting on a carpool with your friends so that you don't have to worry about pick up/drop off school schedules every day. Switching it up might mean that you aren't the go-to volunteer for making dinners for the new mamas or blankies for the new babies, but instead being the one to drop off a pint of ice cream and a coke and a quick kiss on the cheek (for both mama and baby). Switching it up might mean that you need to stop standing over the stove for hours every night, and instead use your crockpot a heck of a lot more so that you know dinner will be ready by the time everyone is home in the evenings.