It’s taken me 3 months, 100 cups of coffee, and 365 sleepless nights to write this post.
I’ve written this article in my head over 1000 times – when driving the car, power napping during a breast feed, making play doh dinosaurs with my toddler, and and and…
I’ve written it over and over again, but I’ve never had the time, the energy, or the patience to actually sit down the write it out.
The reason why?
I’m burnt out!
Let me explain…
I never really understood why people wanted… no… needed to return to work after having a baby.
When I was due to return to work after having my first child, I bawled my bloody eyes out… sobbed at the bottom of my shower, because I didn’t want to leave my baby. I couldn’t – ‘he’s just a baby’ I cried. I hated the thought of putting my child into the care of someone else.
How lucky, I thought then, are the mums who have the choice to be stay at home mums (SAHMs). To spend all that time with their children, to cherish all those moments all day, every day.
Well… I am one of those lucky ones.
I had the choice to be a SAHM.
For the last 365 days I’ve been a SAHM for my now three year old and almost 12 month old baby.
But being one the lucky ones, is a double edged sword.
Yes, I am lucky to be able to have the choice to stay at home with my children and have control over how they spend their days. Yes, I am lucky to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with them. Yes, I am lucky to do all the fun activities with them.
But I’m exhausted.
and I am utterly burnt out.
Like all things, moderation is key, even with parenting.
I need an escape.
And many working Mums, I now understand, use their employment as their escape.
I get that now. I finally understand.
I’ve experienced burn out before. In my old job I had burn out a couple of times. In this situation, I would take time off and go to the coast for a few days. I would ignore my work emails, and not think about my colleagues, my clients, or the mountainous amount of work that was piling up.
But unlike a paid job, I can’t really do this as a Mum.
I can’t just take a day off from being a mother – I will be a mother for eternity now. There will never again be a time in my life where I won’t think about my kids.
I can’t just ignore them like I would my work emails.
I can’t just not meet their needs – that’s called neglectful parenting by the experts.
Those things that make being a SAHM so great – “cherishing all those moments all day, every day” is actually spending ALL day of EVERY day with your children. There is no escape. There is no time-out for Mum. It’s exhausting and looking after children from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep is HARD WORK!
And it’s not just SAHM’s who have it tough. The working Mums have it tough too.
While the working Mums get an escape from parenting while they work, they too have a double edged sword of still not getting their own time.
I mean, work is only an escape until you become burnout from work, right? Then you need an escape from paid work. That cycle of parenting, work, parenting, work…. where’s the break, really?
The thing with Mummy Burnout, is that SAHMs can get it, and working Mums can get it too. There is no escape to have ‘me’ time.
And what happens when there’s no escape, the burnout gets worse, and worse and worse, until one day you find yourself not enjoying all those special moments with your child.
You loose perspective of what is beautiful and wonderful about children and you become resentful, bitter, angry about this fortunate position you are in.
You don’t laugh at the funny things your child says, instead you get frustrated because they’re not listening.
You don’t run your day according to ‘toddler time’, instead you try and rush him out the door.
You don’t enjoy your baby’s ‘firsts’ because all you want is one night sleep – just one!
As a burnt out mummy, some days I find myself in a state of bewilderment. I am not a happy mum, I am grumpy, I am in-flexible, and I struggle to recognise cues from my child to prevent small issues from becoming massive meltdowns.
For me, this is what my burn out looks like, but I know other mums who have burn out for other reasons and that looks differently to mine.
One thing that makes us all the same… Mummy Burnout can happen to all of us regardless of our situation. It is relentless and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it.
But there is a solution, there is always a solution.
And for me, it is to be proactive in self-care.
For me, I need to carve out time every few days to recharge. I plan ahead to make arrangements for a sitter to look after the kids for at least an hour while I go the gym, sit in a cafe to write, or even just go to the park to read.
And it works.
It means I’m not as grumpy, I’m not as tired, and I feel like a more equipped mummy again. I feel like my cup is full again.
The lesson here is – whether you’re a SAHM or a working mum, be proactive in your self-care. By looking after yourself, you can better look after the little ones who stole your heart.
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