Overloaded and Biting?
by Nancy Thomas
Fill your lamp so you can shine your light for others.
Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a child with theirs.
How many different ways do we hear it and yet… It sure is not my best thing! We give and give with out re-charging until our light burns out and we have nothing left. Burnout essentially is effectiveness terminated. Over the years I always knew when I was over tired because I would start to get sarcastic. NOT good when you work with emotionally disturbed children who cannot understand it. It just cuts and hurts!
After the sarcasm alarm was ignored I would get bity and short tempered. I want to be a loving mother, a loving wife and a good friend! Why would I work until I was none of the things I wanted to be? I remember looking in the mirror one morning at my bleary eyes ringed with dark circles, the bags underneath hanging so attractively, my hair askew, frown lines around my lips and I said out loud:” Who are you?” I stood there and thought about starting out on my mission to be a great mom, the kites we would fly, the cookies we would bake! I thought about the drill sergeant I had been with my family the day before as I shouted commands and snapped orders. Who had I become?
Let’s look at the symptoms of burnout:
#1 Physical and emotional exhaustion (right, no energy left and dragging)
#2 Detachment or a tendency to withdraw from people (not good when you have a child who needs to attach and you feel like hibernating!)
#3 Reduced accomplishment (really bad news for those of us with drive! Guilt trip!!)
Let’s look at the causes of burnout:
- Living with intense stress. Check! We have that one! Living with a challenging child is over the top, vice grip pressure, stress!
- Perfectionism or having an intense, driving desire to accomplish more and more,Yup, we are reading the books, searching the net, taking classes trying to find answers to save our drowning child who is taking the whole family down too.
- Bitterness (holding grudges) is surprisingly the number one factor in creating burnout! Living with a sick, twisted child we get hurt! Our heart, our mind, and our spirit take lots of hits on a daily basis. How easy is it to just let it go? TOUGH! On a daily basis we live with: being taken for granted, not appreciated, needs ignored, no-one recognizing our dedication & commitment, our ideas, suggestions and guidance are regularly rejected. What the child WANTS is often paramount to what we need. We are regularly treated with disrespect topped off with vulgar insults.
I wonder why us moms get cranky!? Picture yourself carrying a large bag filled with all the slights, insults, offenses and harm done to you. Some are HUGE others smaller, yet there are hundreds, maybe thousands of comments or actions taken and stored in the baggage that must be carried! Over years of living with this child the bag could grow exceedingly heavy, yet you must carry it every step you take every day. The only way you can remove anything from the bag is to take it out, look at it, and forgive the offender one hurt at a time. To do this you have to STOP, take a break where you can breathe and have the peace to dig into that ugly sack and clean it out! How freeing would that be? Then re-fill your bag with priceless treasures that make you happy like memories of the GOOD stuff and echoes of laughter with loved ones and friends!
Making a commitment, like actually putting it on the calendar, to take time to re-charge away from heavy responsibilities is an act of love! It is not selfish to take care of yourself! It is wise.
There are three key factors in re-charging that are recognized as important:
- A change in location (I used to leave the children with my cowboy and go to the grocery store! That was as close as I got to a “change of location”! Research actually shows regular vacations or mini-vacations to get away are important to prevent or relieve burnout. It is vital to carve out time for a change of scenery to get away from all of it.
- A change in activity or responsibility. The research is in on failure to get proper rest. It is a short cut to burnout. I had one mom say she was headed to a mental hospital because it was the only way she could get a break. A THOUSAND dollars a day, and that’s what she has planned for a break! YIKES!
- A change for a time. They are not talking the 2 minutes we get in the bathroom for our “break”! it needs to be days-not minutes!
Those of us with challenging children have to train a respite provider to be able to properly care for our children or we pay, big time, when we get home! Once we find and train this person our lives will move forward and we can be the super moms and dads we started out to be!
Burnout can leave us so hardened or disillusioned with life that we have little physical, emotional or spiritual energy left to deal with issues. I want to tackle them with gusto and solve them.
When the stresses of life are building to the burn out level it is time to plan a change of location, a change in activity and some time to renew. The alternative is not pretty. One of my favorite books says: “On the seventh day He rested”. I figure if He is taking regular breaks it is probably a really good idea!
What do you have planned to re-charge yourself? I put a whole list on my calendar for the entire year and I plan to PARTY and laugh and be my best self ever! Pick your favorite re-charge activities and put them on your calendar. Let’s charge up. As parents we have important work to do! Lets do it!
Keep your sunny side up!
We can make a difference, Nancy