Thursday, April 24, 2014

Running on Empty (Again)

It's that time of year again. We're nearly at the finish line for another school year and I'm losing my will to care. What? You don't want to do your homework? Whatever. 

 I started thinking about Jen Hatmaker's hilarious worst-end-of-school-mom-ever post yesterday. I had to go back and read it, because, well, I'm there with her and I needed to laugh. If you haven't read it, it's worth it. It'll cheer you up as you start to lose steam at the end of the school year.

 It's not even the end of April yet and I'm looking ahead and thinking how I just have to get through May. I always hate the thinking that I have to just "get through" something. "Getting through" something isn't exactly good living, is it?

I'm burned out again. I know I write about this a lot, but being mama to five sure isn't easy. Over this school year, I've been implementing new things hoping some new strategy will leave me without constantly feeling like I'm going to lose it. Believe me, I've googled everything relating to stay-at-home-mom burn out and guess what? There's a whole lot of info about what burnout is, but not a lot of realistic ways to combat it. Or, if they're realistic ways to combat burnout, those methods aren't working for me.

I found this list today while googling around for more health information on how to turn this burnout ship around. This list confirmed I'm headed in the wrong direction. Oh, boy.
  • Every day is a bad day. (Well, not every day.)
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy. (Yup.)
  • You’re exhausted all the time. (Yup.)
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming. (Yup.)
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated. (Yup.)
 Okay, not every day is a bad day, but every day feels unnecessarily stressful and difficult. Clearly, I need a mind shift. What if I'm approaching this phase in my life all wrong? All year long, I have been trying to come up with a solution that makes being home with my twin boys and five year-old daughter more manageable, more peaceful, more calm. I've not succeeded. I didn't use to feel this overwhelmed with parenting, but I've boiled it down to constant interruption. My interruptions have interruptions. This makes my day feel unstable from start to finish.

All along, I thought that I needed to carve out more quiet time, more me time. I thought that the quiet was the answer. In those small quiet pockets, I could get back to some of the activities that make me, well me. Sometimes, I've felt that I've gotten lost in the constant needs of small children and I have to  remind myself that this is the hardest work. Raising little people isn't for wimps. This is important work, but that doesn't mean that sometimes, it is just plain boring. Somewhere in all those interruptions and malaise, I lost sight of the importance of what I am doing. Just maybe, I'm thinking about this all wrong?

Yesterday, I stumbled onto this post by Amanda Low. In her article, her husband suggests that she take a day to herself. So, she did and guess what? It didn't feel right at all. Go read the post. It's worth it because even before I read her post myself, I was starting to come up with the same conclusion. One day, during this current school year, my mom offered to watch the three littles for me so I could go out and I guess do errands. As headed out, I thought that the last thing I needed to do was more work. So, I went to a movie. At first, I was all giddy with the possibilities of having about four hours to myself. I really wanted to use the time well, but, in the end, there were too many things I wanted to do and only about four hours of free time. I went to a movie in the middle of a day. At first, it sounded all daring and wild like I was getting away with something. A movie in the middle of the day!!! By myself!!? Wow. 

The thing is that little time away didn't really recharge me like I thought it would. Yeah, I didn't have to do all the routine things I normally do, but this didn't feel completely right to me either. I didn't feel guilty or anything like that, but the whole experience just left me wanting more and more time to myself. That isn't such a bad thing, but I realized that daily peace has to come in my daily schedule as well as when I get time to myself. I can't have this sense of peace only when I'm away fro the overwhelming demands of home because that makes me resentful. I know I need to schedule my alone time in my regular daily life. My introverted nature demands it, but this outing made me want more time away rather than figuring out how to get the respite I need within the context of a busy crazy life. In other words, I don't want to feel like I need to run away to get that quiet alone time.

So, here we are again. It's almost the end of the year. It's Spring. It's starting to get lovely outside. I'm starting not to care if Sam gets all of his homework done. I'm feeling the last bits of Winter recede and a new lightness emerging. I don't have the answer, but I think I've stumbled onto something and if I think it through, could it be a game-changer?

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