Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Burn-out, lessons learned

February is Burn-out month, here in the Teach A Fish home.  Last week was especially rough. If I could get all homeschooly and scientific about burn-out, I think the reasons WHY change for each person, for each season.  ("Hey, kids - let's make a pie chart!")

Ignore the misspelling of "Coconut". 

When the kiddos were little, burn-out often had to do with me staring at the same 4 walls, while children bounced sporadically off of them.  Usually, lightning up on school work and taking some extra field trips was just the thing to get us back into the land of Sanity.

With older kiddos, I'm finding the opposite is true.  We aren't staring at the same 4 walls often enough.

Over Christmas break, I started to breath easily.  Sure, we had a few family gatherings, but our weekly rig-a-ma-roll had stopped.  We did some light school days, enjoyed Daddy's company, and I began to dig into some extra house cleaning.  I almost caught up on laundry, our junkiest junk rooms had clear paths, and I felt like I was on top of the world!

Sighing happily one Sunday night, as I snuggled next to my 3-yo dozing beside me, I brought up my phone to look at my calendar.  What's next? I wondered.  My calendar had a smattering of activity.  Full load school days were starting back up.  My plans to finish off that laundry stack, turn the junkiest junk rooms into Shaker style cleanliness, and be the Mom on Top of the World suddenly ended.  I began hyperventilating.  "It's Ok," I told myself.  "You can do it."

And so, we plodded on.

February hit.  My back went out with a bang, and I was useless for 3 days.  I was in over my head with homeschool events to organize, children to teach, a house to clean, home business taxes to schedule, and a husband that would like a cleaner home, hotter dinner, better educated children, and "oh, can you enroll them in a sport, while you're at it, Dear?" Not to mention, our educational plan and purpose for our children has always been to accelerate them and get them a college degree by age 18.

No problem, Hon.  I'm right on it!

I think the back thing was my body rebelling.  I was eating my meals standing up while rushing around pleasing everyone else.  I was ignoring that mild ache that became a slightly less mild ache, and grew into a medium nuisance...because I had just one more thing...and then, just one more thing.

The husband means well - he loves his wife and family.  He's an amazing husband, an attentive dad, and an awesome provider.  This isn't a "poo-poo your husband" post - because he has his own "wit's end", and his own "working full time burn-out", and his own difficulties with keeping bosses, employees, and customers happy.  He has his own Sanity he'd like to come home to.  This post, however, is not about him (he can start his own blog for that...)

And so, I met my people-pleasing self face-to-face, and realized she was killing me.  I'm still not sure how to deal with her, yet (glares at self). 

For me, I think the answer is a cunning-combo of doing less outside of the home, giving myself some down-time, and saying "no" to those loving little faces when I think I'm being pushed past my limits.

In conclusion, if you are suffering burn-out:
  • are you trying to do to much?
  • are you trying to please people that aren't going to be pleased?
  • if you're an introvert - are you spending too much time out and about, and having too much face time with other people?  Are you giving yourself some time for rest and reflection?
  • if you're an extrovert - are you spending too much time at home, too much time alone with your own thoughts?
  • can you strike a balance somewhere? cut things out, add things in, get some help, lock yourself in a closet with a bag of chocolate chips?
  • exercise (ducking and covering.  I hate this advice.  Hate it.  But gosh, darn it - it's true, and I need to be doing it.  How about you?)

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