Monday, September 26, 2016

Mothering Monday: Mom Burn-Out

If you have been reading my blog over the past summer, I think you can tell that I'm experiencing mom burn-out. The kind of burnout where I went from regularly cooking homemade meals to considering fast food as a viable option for dinner. Every.Single.Night. While I didn't serve fast food every night, I fantasized about it everyday. I used to read to my kids all the time but the other day, I searched for bedtime stories on YouTube. My patience and interactions with my children are extremely short. The worst thing is that I don't really feel much happiness when I'm doing my work as a mom or when I spend time with my children.

Let me be clear about something. I deliberately chose to be a mother. I was not coerced, manipulated, or forced into having babies. Most of my children were planned and those who weren't, were welcome surprises. I think being a mother is an extremely important calling and I willingly accepted that calling. I am proud of the work I am doing as a mother. Raising kids who are independent, hard workers, kind, compassionate, helpful, and decent people is worthwhile work.

Right now I am not feeling the joy of working on something important. I just feel cranky, tired, out-of-sorts, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I find that when faced with challenges (which is normal with kids) I don't even have the energy to cope with them. This is not good, people.

So how do I get my mojo back? How do I find happiness in the experience? How do I find more pleasure in interacting with my children? How do I stop being/feeling so darn grouchy with my family?

Seriously, I am so curious what kind of answers you have to offer.

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Lewis Family said...

This is always a tough answer to give to a question that all moms deal with and every single mom needs to figure out on her own. I was hitting burnout point when I got the prompting to go back to school, which has worked wonders for me (not for my house, sadly, but one thing at a time). I am not the mom who needs alone time or extended time away from my family. I really just want to be with them, but when I am doing all the work and seemingly making all the decisions, I just get burnt out. This has allowed them to make some decisions on their own, and find some independence, while I still get to see them every single day. I know you are like me, in that you don't really want to be away from them, you just need some more "juice"!
General Conference will help, I am positive! Remember to write down your specific questions, so you have a focus. And definitely set aside weekends (at least every other one) for dates, whether they are dates which cost money or not, you 2 NEED that time to cleave to each other and not the kids. When I am connected to my husband and the Gospel, things are always in better perspective for me. If those are both things you feel you are NOT having any trouble with currently, remember that it has been said that a study of the Gospel will lead to better understanding and behavior than a study of behavior itself (totally paraphrased there!). Also, my friend, unfortunately, you are at a stage in life (perhaps for the rest of it) where you must lower your standards of what you can "accomplish". You only have so many spoons, right? I SO want to be perfect and learn everything in this life, but it will not happen, and messing up my family to do so is only counterproductive.
Miss and love you so much. Just keep breathing and hugging. Some days just have to be endured, so you can really live the next day.

Cheryl said...

I like the above comment?

I have had three obvious burn-outs with my mothering, and I was able to overcome them in different ways:

1. When I had a few small children (3 or 4?), I remember being really annoyed with them because they were so needy. I just had a bad attitude about everything. I remember washing the dishes one day and God said to me, very plainly, "You chose this job because you wanted it more than anything. And Cheryl, they NEED you." That shifted something in me and my attitude changed almost overnight. I no longer saw their needs as annoying (well, at least not all the time, lol!).

2. When I had 5 kids, my husband was getting his Master's degree and traveling internationally for work. I had 3 part time jobs (editor, online marketing, and piano teacher) and 2 callings. I was going to GNO's and book club and I blogged (and browsed FB) every day. I was trying to be on top of chores and meals and discipline and homework and... I just collapsed in a big old heap of exhaustion and burn out. So, I did what I had to do and asked Heavenly Father for a re-boot. This means I quit every single job (every single one!), I asked to be released from one of my callings, and I scaled back the online activity. I leaned into my most important and my first job --mothering --and did my best to realign my life with what I really wanted. It was so hard to let go of the things I loved --but I didn't get rid of everything. I still did an occasional GNO. My husband and I still dated. I still went to book club. But I stopped looking for reasons to ignore my kids or leave my home.

3. The worst case of Depression and anxiety I've ever had (and I've had plenty) occurred about five months before we conceived our 7th baby. I was basically a zombie. I barely functioned. My daughter basically ran the house until my husband could get home because I would still be in bed. Nothing brought me joy, and my kids especially did not. I solved this through very obvious means: I started psychiatric care (meds, in my case) and bi-weekly therapy sessions. The pregnancy, itself, was also a healing balm to my soul (we had prayed for her for 18 months), and the experiences of that year taught me so much about the Atonement, myself, my mothering, and my abilities to heal. But what I had to re-learn was that I wanted to be a mother again. I resented the housework, resented the cooking, resented all the emotional exhaustion you're talking about. When I was finally able to feel motivation and make choices without falling apart, I found that I could choose to do better. I could choose to plan ahead, I could choose to not resent the never-ending laundry (it really never ends and never will!), and I could choose to be present when my kids needed me.

I still get mother burn-out. I think it's inevitable and we all do, you know? So maybe, in your case, know you're not alone, seek the counsel of Heaven, find out where your focus is and change it if need be, lean in more to your mother calling and maybe just fake it 'til you make it. :) It's okay to have these slumps. The goal is just not to stay there too long.

Cheryl said...

Ack! My first sentence should have an exclamation point after it, not a question mark!!!

Luisa Perkins said...

This is a normal valley of mothering. Remove the layer of self-criticism. Relax personal standards that aren't crucial; you know how important traditional foods are to me, yet I have found that the occasional night of fast food has killed no one around here. :)

When I get burnt out, I often return to a treasured book that has inspired me in the past. (What a surprise, right?) It might be a novel about a happy family, or it might be a great how-to book on some aspect of parenting or homekeeping. I would be happy to share some favorites, but I'm betting that you have some of your own.

I also find Date Night to be absolutely crucial to my mental health. Are you guys able to have a weekly night away, even if it's just to take a walk down by the river for an hour or two? It doesn't have to cost money.