I was burnt out, stretched too thin and entering a stage of exhaustion that sleep doesn’t fix. Sound familiar? I had informed my husband that I was taking Sunday off. Actually taking a day off because if I tallied my days on the job without a break, it was bordering 364 plus one sick day. I consider that a work-a-holic and I needed a break. I had not proudly tallied my “straight working” days since my spry, late 20’s working for a celebrity in NYC, where other employees and I would commiserate about how many hours a day and days a week we devoted to a 24/7 type of role. We were dumb, but paid handsomely. And, eventually I burned out from that role as well.
I found myself under similar stress as a mom to young kids, but with a much deeper sense of emotional responsibility. My children were everything to me and I would do anything for them, but I was pouring from an empty cup. This mom gig is not for the weak and I had done what so many dutiful employees do and given it my all, and frankly, they just kept expecting more. It’s like when you first start a job with the mentality of “if I work hard, they will notice and reward me,” and that literally never happens. They just expect more. Devoting my full days, doing the night wake-ups and accident changes, then being the one to volunteer to take them to the birthday parties or gymnastic classes, because I’m mom right?
We need more
The thing is, I have this ambitious goal of raising strong, independent daughters who stand up for themselves and advocate and yet their mother was constantly putting herself last. To the point of mental, physical and emotional emptiness. I don’t want them to do that to themselves, so why on earth was I allowing myself to do it? So I submitted my vacation day with absolutely zero push back and like any overworked employee, started living for the vacation.
Oh I had big plans on my vacation day. I planned to create a full family reset strategy. I was so frustrated with the whining lately, the lack of helping hands, the attitudes, the ungratefulness – oh boy was I going to make lists and chore charts and read some blogs about instilling gratefulness. My family was going to HIT RESET.
Resetting My Whole Family
In the days leading up to my Sunday off, I continued to add things I was going to plan on “resetting” with aggressive, annoyed scribbles on a pad. “CLEAR YOUR OWN PLATES”. Huff huff. “SPEAK WITH KINDNESS” huff huff. “I WILL ONLY SAY THINGS ONCE” huff huff. I was short-tempered, constantly annoyed and just getting through the days. As you’ve probably surmised, I was a joy to be around. Sunday arrived and with a brisk kiss goodbye, I all but ran out the door…alone. My introverted heart slowed down just a bit, longing for that recharge that being completely along, not responsible for any other living thing, brings. My introverted heart is paired with a Type A personality and it was time to get moving. I had my vacation day planned out.
A Mom Moment
Starting with my favorite coffee shop, my laptop, my journal and a list. I dove into it. Half way through my second latte, I dove into an especially potent work called ‘Dwelling, Simple Ways to Nourish Your Home, Body & Soul‘ by Melissa Michaels and I started to fill my soul. The day wore on with an especially good pedicure and then lunch at a hotel that had a balcony overlooking a lake. It was there I found rest. And my folder of hastily sketched chore charts was placed back in my bag. And I found my crumpled notes on our “family reset”.
Our family didn’t need a reset. Mommy needed a reset.
My list was accurate, but hilariously nothing like what I wanted for my family. My list was trite, commanding and quite like a roaring dictator. I could almost feel my huffing and puffing encapsulated in those “fixes” I had noted.
I did not see any motivation, no room for tutelage and not an ounce of grace to be found. These were the scrawling words of a burnt out mom grasping for straws of hope. Sure the kids could put their plates in the sink, but was that really the core of our families chaos? Sure they could speak with more kindness, but did I practice that myself? When we are staring at the paintings of our lives with our noses touching the canvases, we see piles of built up paint, crooked lines, and jumbled colors. It’s when we can step back that we see the beauty of this incredible piece of art that is our families. Nothing changed with that painting except perspective. My perspective is what needed changing, not out family.
“Did you try turning it off and turning it back on?” there must be so many memes in the IT world about this. No, we didn’t do that of course because that requires us to close all of our work and our 100 open tabs and it’s annoying and it takes a long time. Can’t IT just teleport through the connections and fix our issue without us having to restart our laptops?
Moms, sometimes we need to turn it off and then turn it back on. For me, that came in the form of getting away for a full day. That may be a luxury you cannot afford. How about 3 hours? Can you swap babysitting hours with another caregiver for a few hours? Because we need to put down the work. Close the tabs. Shut down, to let our systems all reset so we can turn it back on.
We treat our phones better than we treat ourselves!! We recharge them, yet we let our own battery run on the dreaded 1%. Security checks run automatically on our devices, but we don’t fix the bugs in our own minds. We put them in break proof cases, but we let ourselves hang out there fragile, running on coffee and too little sleep. Our phones push through these updates that often require a restart, a refresh, a reset. Do we allow that for ourselves?
I don’t have a magic formula for resets. I just know that I routinely schedule my days or afternoons “off.” My formally submitted vacation time. They may not always happen, but I schedule them before I am absolutely a shell of a mom living for that day. And I actually take my reset afternoons because when I reset myself, the flow of my house naturally follows. Sure I may journal and flip through a book on some new kid related nuance that has come up and think of ways to support that phase, but mostly I let my mind, body and soul reset.
It is YOUR reset, no one else’s
Here are some of the boundaries I have put into place on my reset times:
- I do not take or make calls or texts. While we could spend an hour chatting with a friend, we can fit that in another time. I know that I need this time to myself. Perhaps you fill your cup by chatting through some things with a friend, that’s great. Limit yourself so it doesn’t consume your entire window of time.
- No “to dos” that loom over me. Could I schedule that pediatrician appointment? Quickly email the teacher? Schedule the pest control guy? Sure I can. But I don’t. This is about mental clarity and while I love our bug guy, I don’t need to speak with him on my rest day. I may write out my to-do list, but then I put it away without checking off a single thing.
- I fill my mind and soul with beautiful things I enjoy – books, curated magazines, articles that lift my spirit.
- Stay off social media. I know, I know. #blessed to be #recharging and all, but don’t. It’s a vortex and like the dreaded, carnivorous Pitcher Plant luring you in with sweet nectar, you’ll soon be trapped.
- Eat, drink and be merry. How often do you get to take a hot beverage, or a cold one alone. How about a full meal? Especially one where you aren’t even responsible for the clean up. Nourishing our souls sometimes also means nourishing our bodies.
Keep The Reset Longer
So even though I don’t have a master plan for everyone else in our family, I do try to carve out ways for me to hold onto my reset for longer. For me, that means identifying areas of my life or schedule that I can simplify and areas that could bring calm and peace to my home.
Draft Your Ideal Evenings and Mornings
Identifying what my ideal evening and ideal morning could look like has helped me hold that reset. When it is drafted during a period of life when I am burnt out and frazzled, I can always tell. The ideal morning and evening look completely different when you have a better perspective. When we are rested, our “ideal” moments are more genuine, softer, full of grace.
Areas That Rob Your Reset
I try to list or identify the areas that drain me the most and try to find ways to mitigate that. When I think of these areas in my burnt out state, they seem overwhelming and “musts”. When I view them through eyes that have blinked, that have stepped back, those areas are easier to dissect and in some cases, eliminate for this season. I think of my obligations and try to identify if they are really even obligations or just things I’ve agreed to do. I think of our schedule. Is your calm and your peace being slowly taken by the things that have crept up and filled your time?
I could go on and on, but while I have your eyes and your attention that is likely stretched so thin, mama – do you need a reset? Do you need that submitted vacation day off? Do you need to recharge? To reboot? Your mind is saying YES. So let’s take it. It’s time to reset.