Anybody can experience burn-out. It happens in every workplace and every profession. It happens when we find ourselves doing too much, too fast, too repetitively and enjoying it less.
As parents, we are not exempt from this state that can leave us feeling drained, listless, disinterested, guilty, and lacking the reliable get-up-and-go that we count on.
A mom described feeling this way to me recently and was surprised when I told her it was not at all uncommon for a parent – especially a stay-at-home parent- to go through a period of experiencing these let-down feelings.
The demands of young children, the expectations today’s parents put on themselves, the number of activities, places to go, things to keep up with begin to multiply and we can easily feel stressed and out-of-sync.
This state of mind can be troubling and we find ourselves questioning what’s wrong with me and what can I do?
The first important step to take is acceptance. Yes, sometimes I feel this way and it is okay that I do. Parenting is demanding, challenging and exhausting at times. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure as a parent. It does mean I need to take this opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing and change things up a bit.
A good cry – I’m not being condescending but have you had one lately? It doesn’t mean you’re weak or not up for the match and it can miraculously relieve the pressure and sometimes even begin the process of refocusing.
Write down what you’re feeling. Put the pen to the paper and go – for five minutes – without worrying about grammar, punctuation or even making sense. Just get the raw, honest emotions out.
Renew your priorities. Make sure what you are spending your energy on is what is most essential in your life.
Simplify – meals, activities, to-do lists. Sometimes it only takes a few days of laying low to feel ready to start up again. Give yourself the liberty to decide. Pick and choose the activities you want to go to. Your children will not suffer from not attending every fun-sounding activity or learning opportunity that’s being offerred.
Soul time – that means time just for you – to stare into space, with a cup of tea, and put things into perspective, daydream, be at peace. Add this time to your to-do list.
In all relationships, we reach different stages when it’s time to redefine our interactions, expectations and responsibilites. Even with our children, we can get in the habit of doing things for them that they are ready to do themselves. Take a close look at the things you are doing that are making you feel unappreciated.
Check the children’s bedtime. Make sure there is some time for you and your spouse or partner to connect when the children are not around. Sometimes bedtime hours have a habit of creeping later and later. Early bedtimes are good for both children and parents.
By the way, check your own sleep habits and adjust them to make sure you are getting enough rest.
Plan an adult activity with your spouse or partner, with your best friends.
Choose to be free from constant texting and phone calls for a good chunk of your day.
If you’re lucky to have grandparents in the area who will gladly take the children for an overnight, don’t use this precious time to get all the chores done. Instead, sleep in, go out for breakfast, take a hike, go to the movies, communicate.
And if communication – or the lack of it (which happens easily in our busy lives) seems to be part of the equation, call Family Resources and sign up for the Communication for the Parent Team workshop, Thursday, August 5th from 6-7:30 p.m.
Registration is necessary. Limited childcare is available for up to ten children.
Bring along your spouse or partner. It might just be the spark that you need.