What This Is Like from Your Perspective
Between your taking care of your kids, paying attention to your spouse, trying not to neglect your friends, taking care of the house, fulfilling the commitments to your out-side-the-house activities, trying to take care of yourself… there is just too much!
You know like there is too much on your to-do list, but…
You’re not sure what to cut out; everything seems important.
You don’t want to delegate or ask for help because it never gets done the right way when you do.
You know that setting boundaries and saying no to things will create other stresses that you don’t have the time to deal with.
So you feel stuck on a hamster wheel… and you don’t see any exit signs in sight.
What This Is Like from Your Child’s Perspective
Your kids see that you’re busy. In fact, they really see that you’re busy.
They even experience that first-hand because…
…at least once a day they’re hearing “hurry up” and “we have to GO!”
…when they’re talking to you, you’re often doing something else at the same time
…you’re telling them that you’ll do things “later,” but later doesn’t ever seem to come
Especially when they’re younger, they enjoy relaxed time with you. And while they may get some of that time with you, they also know that often they’re competing with so many other things for your attention.
How It Usually Goes When We
Are Burnt Out From Doing Everything
(An Internal Script)
Scenario: Lana has twin girls and a son who is 2 years older than the twins. Her daughter Sasha is crying because she spilled her water, her other daughter Zoey is making a mess on the kitchen table, and her son Thomas is making noises (for no reason).
Lana (thinks): THIS IS TOO MUCH. I cannot do this. Everyone needs me at once. Sasha is always crying and needing me to comfort her. Which I would gladly do, but I can’t take my eyes off of Zoey, who will get into everything if I let her. Thomas would be fine being on his tablet all day, but what kind of mother would I be if I let him do that?
I know I need to teach Sasha how to deal with life. (Ha! I’m not a great example of that right now, am I?) I know Zoey won’t get into everything if I give her more to do. And I know that Thomas needs more attention from me than I’m giving him. But how can I do all of that at once, when I also have to feed all three of them and get them dressed and to school and to their appointments? And I have to do things like washing dishes and doing laundry and paying bills! (I’d love to let my husband do them, but he’s never been good at that. I learned that even before we had kids!)
And on top of that, I’m hearing from their teachers how important that it is that I read to them every night. And Thomas’s basketball coach is saying he needs to work on his attitude when he misses a basket. Sasha’s piano teacher let me know at the last lesson that can tell Sasha’s not practicing enough. So we’re paying for those lessons (because my husband and I both see a talent in her and want to nurture it) but we’re so busy that we don’t have enough time for her to get anything out of them… And at the last dentist appointment, the dentist said Zoey’s not brushing well so I should be standing there watching her.
So what do I cut out? Who do I disappoint? What do I just “let go”? Do I ignore the fact that my son has a poor attitude? Do I forget about nurturing Sasha’s talent? Do I just let Zoey brush her own teeth and get cavities? Or do I forget about the bills…or the laundry?
I’m just done.
Lana continues to think about all of the items on her plate and how she will never be able to balance them all because they’re equally important. She feels burnt out and has no energy to start on any of the tasks on her to-do list.
How It Could Go When We
Are Burnt Out From Doing Everything
(An Internal Script)
Lana (thinks): THIS IS TOO MUCH. I have 3 children, all with different personalities and different needs. And it seems that all of their needs conflict with each other’s! I’m also getting pressure from the kids’ teachers and coaches to do things for them that I know are important — work on their attitude, nurture their talents, take care of their bodies. AND my kids aren’t the only thing in my life! I also have to take care of the house and the bills and I’m trying to find time to do things for myself… This is my reality.
I feel overwhelmed and burnt out. I honestly don’t know what to prioritize. And if I let something go, I know the consequences will affect my kids… and make my life MORE stressful.
OK. I need to stop thinking these thoughts. They’re making me feel worse. (Lana starts thinking about the place in her body where she feels tension — her shoulders. She imagines lowering her shoulders and loosening them a bit. Every time an overwhelming thought comes into her head, she re-focuses back on her shoulders and trying to relax them.)
After a few moments…
Lana (thinks): OK, I need to focus on what I CAN do and what IS in my control.
I have a lot of things going on. But I also let them all happen TO me. I need to take charge. So what’s bothering me most? Well, I feel like I’m reacting to emergencies all the time. My schedule is not my own. Also, my mind is full of thoughts and worries and guilt, and it’s just so draining.
I need to take more ownership over my time. I’m going to sit down and write EVERYTHING I have to. I have a feeling that it’s going to be more than I can fit into a day. So I’m going to have to get creative. Maybe a mother’s helper can give me some time? Or I might need to start asking friends if we can make an arrangement where they can drop their kids off here (and vice versa) so I can have an hour or two to get some things done around the house. I will find a way to schedule things like paying bills and cleaning up — things that I can’t focus on when my kids are around so they never seem to get done.
I know that won’t fix the fact that my kids need me all the time, but when I can get some of those things off of my to-do list, I won’t get as resentful and angry when they need me!
I am also going to take more ownership over my thoughts and worries. Thinking about everything I have to do and how helpless I feel is draining! You know what? Just like I am going to write down my tasks, I’m going to write some of those worries and thoughts that make me feel upset. And I’m going to put these thoughts into categories — things I can do something about, things I need to let go, and things I can’t seem to let go of so need to talk to someone about.
I need more mental space to prioritize what I will do to support the kids. So I’m going to get some things off of my to-do list and clear some mental clutter.
Then, most importantly, I’ll figure out what each child needs FIRST. I will fit the rest in later. I might not be able to do it all at once, but at least I will be able to move forward… one step at a time.
Lana pulls out her calendar and a piece of paper so that she can do some mental dumps and scheduling later in the day. With that off of her mind, she has a little more energy to attend to her kids’ needs.
As always, you will have a much easier time shifting your thoughts and feelings if:
~you’ve made proactive deposits so your biological or emotional “needs accounts” are met
(otherwise you won’t be able to get out of your Yuck in order to find solutions and focus on what’s in your control)
~you recognize and respect that your kids have have a different perspective and agenda than you do,
but that you can control your own thoughts and actions.