Apparently, parental burn-out is a thing.
And let me tell you, I HAVE HAD IT. How do you know you’ve had it or are in it? Well…
You find yourself swearing more (even if just in your head), and this isn’t your normal self.
You lack motivation, in pretty much everything.
You really, really, really care about mothering, but still just can’t.
You feel like you’ve given up. IT’S ALL TOO MUCH.
You LOVE your kids cuddles, but don’t want to be touched. BY ANYONE.
You want a vacation away BY YOURSELF for a whole week. ALONE. Did I mention alone? Doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert. ALONE.
You have the “don’t give a what’s”
T.V. feels like a saving grace and even though you don’t want them on a screen, you don’t a give a what.
You know this is a mental game and you have the Holy Spirit and you know your parenting matters, but…you don’t give a what. IN THIS MOMENT, you don’t. You can’t. Because you are done.
The white flag has been raised.
Desperate texts have been sent.
YOU ARE DONE.
You don’t even know what that means exactly, you just know you are.
We’re going to go ahead and have a safe space right here right now because THIS IS REAL AND TRUE AND NOT WHAT YOU WANT. We must bring this mother burn-out to the light if we want to get better.
Real Answers, Real Help
Bring the Truth to the Light
We must be being willing to be honest about the FACT that mother burn-out is real. It’s real and normal and it kind of makes you crazy. Except that you’re not crazy because it’s ACTUALLY NORMAL TO EXPERIENCE THIS. Everyone understands getting burned out with a job or a test or a paper due or project deadline, but seem to forget that motherhood is ongoing and demanding and exhausting and WONDERFUL and beautiful and painful and ALL THE TIME. Therefore, it’s so NORMAL to get burned out by the constant-ness of it. But if we’re going to come out of it and keep on, we need to bring the truth to the light.
“…everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
If you are burned out, done, dying, feeling crazy or alone or ALL OF THE ABOVE, admit it. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, it just makes you honest. And when you’re honest, you can get better. It all starts with the truth.
Know the Difference Between Guilt and Shame
I read a fantastic article on showing children the difference between shame-parenting and guilt-exposure, but I think some of us could use the lesson for ourselves.
“Guilt’s message is, “I did something bad,” and needs justification and forgiveness. Shame’s message is, “I am bad,” and needs an identity shift and relational connection. Sin leaves both in its wake, and shame is what lingers even after forgiveness has been sought and granted. Shame feels like it’s welded onto you, but guilt feels like something outside of you.” -Heather Davis Nelson, 10 Things You Should Know About Shame
Push off condemnation and accusation and be gentle with yourself. Really, be gentle with yourself. Your heart will accuse you, the voices in your head from over the years will accuse you, and the enemy will accuse you. But God is greater than your heart, the voices of condemnation, and the enemy. He doesn’t shame us, He teaches us, guides us, allows us to feel pain, and leads us as we mother. If you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of failure, go to His throne of grace where He will give you mercy and help if you ask.
“…let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Know Your Needs
When I was feeling crazy at the end of the summer my husband asked me, “What do you need?” Well, I said, a maid and a weekend away by myself at a hotel.
Those were the things I really wanted, and they felt like needs. The helpful thing was to get away and have some help with the house. My husband told me to leave (in the nicest, pushiest way), and so I left for a couple of hours. When I came home, he had WASHED THE SHEETS (that was a new one!) and cleaned our bedroom. He said, “I know we can’t afford you going away or getting a maid, but I wanted you to feel like you had a clean, relaxing space to be in. Also, I’m going to take the kids out for the day so you can have the house to yourself.” GLORY HALLELUJAH. Revival was about to take place.
What I learned in this was to be honest with my needs (or what would really help), knowing that they might not all get met, but to ask and say them anyway.
Have a “Horn of Gondor”
In the Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and his friends are in trouble. One of the men blows a loud horn, the Horn of Gondor, and it is a call for help. When it’s used you know that help is on the way.
That is how I feel about my friends. When one of us calls, when we feel downcast or worried or unsure or just need a night out, they rally. Help is on the way.
We don’t always need fixed but we do need to know we aren’t alone and that help is on the way.
Reach out to your friends. Let yourself be vulnerable enough to let them in. Don’t hide. And if you don’t have close friends, ask God for them. I have made the best of friends in my 30’s. If you’re still looking for deep, honest, safe, grace-filled, fun friendship, don’t give up. Keep praying, keep looking, keep asking. It’s all worth it. It’s all a gift.
Use Other Words with Your Kids But Also Be Honest
When talking to your kids in the midst of losing your mind, replace “OH MY GRACIOUS OF ALL HOLY THINGS LEAVE NOW OR I’M GOING TO I DON’T EVEN KNOW!” to, “YOU ARE A GREAT KID! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” You know what I’m sayin’. K. Don’t put your crazy on them. At least try not to. When/if you do, ask forgiveness.
Be honest with the fact that you do NOT have your stuff together, but that it’s not them, it’s you, because really, IT IS. Kind of. Mostly. Point being, YOU NEED JESUS. Tell them. Show them. DESPERATE FOR JESUS. They are watching real life unfold. If we’re honest, we can show them that life might be hard sometimes, but we can overcome with Jesus…He is our help, our strength, and our gentle Father. He listens to us and He cares. Let your kids see this.
And lastly, for now…
Get Out and Make Some Fun
Sometimes, in the midst of the crazy, you just have to get out and make some fun.
On October 5th I loaded my kids in my mini-van and drove 40 minutes to get free coffee at a Pop-up Luke’s Diner for a Gilmore Girls event. Did my kids have any idea about the Gilmore Girls? Not really. They’re too young, but you know what, WE HAD FUN. I made a spur of the moment decision to go when I couldn’t find anyone to go with. It broke up the monotony of the day (of the month?) and it was a memory made.
Here’s the thing, all of us moms will have those days, those weeks, those months. But we will make it. We will keep on.
If you are feelin’ it, the burn-out, you are not crazy and you are not alone. You are normal. You will get through this. You just might need a horn of Gondor and some coffee. All your work as a mom, loving, nurturing, teaching, dealing with conflict, and “one more kiss goodnight”? It’s totally worth it.
Keep on sister.
Love, Sarah Mae