Today I’m talking about: Avoiding Motherhood Burnout. This is a topic that is very close to my heart because…well, I have three small kids (ages 7, 4, and 1), a husband who works A LOT, very little family support, and I homeschool. Sounds like a recipe for insanity, right?!
Here’s how I stay sane: I practice self-care on a regular basis. I have to take care of myself – like they say about the oxygen mask – you have to put yours on first before you can help anyone else.
Self-care looks different for different people. Some moms hire help or have family nearby to take the kids a few hours/week. Some moms go on vacations by themselves. Some moms take the time while their children are in school to grab lunch with a friend or keep up with a hobby. Some moms don’t get to do any of those things because they are single or work full-time, and that is very tough – I know because I was raised by a single, working mom. Mom, how did you do it?!
As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, my kids are with me ALL the time. So, I have found these simple strategies that have helped me avoid burnout. Here they are:
1) Practice a Fulfilling Hobby:
I have three hobbies I love: photography, blogging, and reading. I love that they are quiet hobbies that stretch me intellectually. I feel inspired when I write posts that connect to other mothers. My hobbies are not money-makers – they’re things I do for myself. I love looking back at old blog posts and remembering the “hard” times and how now they don’t seem so hard (or sometimes they do!) 😉 I love taking photos of my children and growing creatively with every snapshot. I work hard at these hobbies because they bring me joy outside of my “mom” duties. They relax me!
2) Buy Some Happiness:
In her book The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin talks about how purchasing small but meaningful luxuries can contribute to happiness. For some, this could mean an occasional (or frequent!) Starbucks. For others, perhaps a mani/pedi is in order. In general, I am super frugal and the idea of a stranger touching my feet gives me the creeps. So that mani/pedi is out for me. What to do?
This is going to sound so weird, but for my birthday a few weeks ago – I went on Ebay and found an item I’ve wanted for almost my whole life! Yep…my whole life!
I lost my favorite toy – a giraffe – when I was very young (like Ginger’s age) and I never really got over it. Well, after a little searching, I found one just like it on Ebay and now it’s MINE! Haha! Looking at that giraffe brings me so much happiness, I can’t even describe it. It’s like a little piece of childhood restored.
It’s the simple things…truly:
3) Carve Out Times of Solitude:
Even though I have only one napper – everyone in my house has quiet time for up to two hours in the afternoon. My children are still little – ages 7, 4, and 1 – and if I don’t have that downtime, I might just lose my ever-lovin’ mind! We play hard throughout the day, but when my one year old takes a nap…it’s like the cone of silence comes over my house. My house is small (1300 square feet) – so if my older girls were loud, the baby would never nap.
Anyhoo – I find that we all need that downtime. My seven year old often takes this time to write her own stories or read books. My 4 year old plays legos or works on the iPad learning how to read. And that’s when I blog! That time is so sacred. I know we all benefit and come back together restored after our quiet time.
4) Nurturing Exercise:
For me, a walking practice is key. I love walking – not running, not jogging – I just love walking. It makes me feel alive! All it takes is about 10 minutes of walking to clear my head. It costs nothing, and is so healthy – mentally, emotionally, physically. I often go by myself but sometimes I’ll even bring my seven year old to connect with her. It lifts both our spirits!
5) Practice Gratitude:
I know everyone’s heard of keeping a gratitude journal. Just a simple sentence on a daily basis to say what you’re thankful for each day. But you know what? For me…I like to practice gratitude at all times. Even (especially) in times when I am frustrated or stressed. If I am at the grocery store and the line is taking too long, I will say to myself: I am grateful I have a place to buy food, and the money to buy it. If my children are arguing, I will laugh to myself and say: I am so grateful I have children who are healthy enough to argue.
Just things like that…it makes a difference! I try to do at least a few of these things every day – over time, they make such a huge difference in my life. And sometimes, I can even multi-task them. For example, I might:
Say thanks while I walk alone in silence carrying my giraffe…take a selfie…then blog about it later! Just kidding! Ha!
What do you do for self-care? Tell me in the comments! 🙂