To all the unpaid chefs, personal assistants, teachers, inventory specialists, personal shoppers, hair stylists, child psychologists and life coaches. To all the people trying to make life as normal as possible for everyone else in their house. To all the moms feeling a complicated mess of emotions ranging from gratitude to “I can’t do this anymore.” To the mom on the brink of a burnout…
OF COURSE YOU ARE. Nothing makes more sense during this bizarre time than feeling burnt out. What a normal, rational reaction to an abnormal, emotional situation.
The last few weeks, the signs of burnout have been surfacing in conversations with mom friends, Facebook groups, and social media posts from even the most optimistic mom influencers. You’re tired. You’re overwhelmed. You don’t know where to go from here. You are doing your best but are wondering if it’s enough. Of course you are feeling this way!
Of course you feel like you are doing everything, and yet somehow nothing gets done. Your brain is working on overdrive, planning meals, playing the grocery lottery, researching age-appropriate activities for your kids, scheduling video calls, dealing with an onslaught of emotions and questions from your family with no break in sight. Another list to be made, another chore to be done, another thing to be put away. And running constantly in the background is the worry of a global pandemic and how much we still don’t know. When you do get an hour to yourself, your brain just shuts down and you scroll on your phone, and then you feel like you’ve wasted your time.
Of course you are overwhelmed with the number of decisions you’re being asked to make. Not only do you have to make the everyday decisions of what your whole family is eating every hour of the day, what the day’s activities will be, how much screen time will actually turn your kids’ brains to mush, and which mess to tackle first; you are now having to make huge decisions about your family’s level of risk tolerance. Can you let the grandparents visit? Can you take that big trip in two months? Can you send your kid to school in the fall? It makes sense that you are about to have a breakdown because your husband simply asked you where you should go on your family walk. It’s one decision too many.
Of course you can’t handle one more second of whining. Everyone’s world is slightly off-kilter, and your kids are acting out in ways you weren’t ready for. Turning everything into a battle, regressing in unexpected ways, clinging to you while also pushing every one of your buttons. And you know that they’re struggling too and you’re their safe place. You know they’re trying to deal with big emotions that even many adults aren’t equipped to handle. They’re missing their friends, schedule and community as much as you are. So then you feel guilty that you snapped, that you threatened to take toys, that you told them that no, you do not want to see “something cool” for the 40th time this morning.
Of course you are sick of being touched, you are on the brink of a burnout. You are with your children all day, and while they won’t sit still for an activity you planned or stay close when you’re on your neighborhood walk, they sure know when you are sitting down for time to yourself or trying to get something done. They will find a way into your lap or wrap around your legs, and by the end of the day, you’re sitting on the opposite end of the couch from your husband and pushing the cat away when he comes too close. But you know you should be grateful that you can get physical contact when so many people live alone and don’t have that luxury.
Of course you are feeling like it’s too much. It’s all too much, because you are on the brink of a burnout. For you, for me. We’re all fighting our own battles in each of our houses and feeling guilty that we can’t figure it out, that we’re still complaining when there are worse problems out there.
There’s no quick easy solution. We can’t just go back to our lives before. So ask for help — specific help from your partner and professional help if you think your feelings aren’t healthy. Be selfish sometimes and take a little time away from your family if you can — a walk, a drive, a long bathroom break. Count your blessings if it helps, but if it just makes you feel guilty for complaining, wallow in self-pity for a bit. If you kept your children alive and did your best today (whatever today’s best looked like), you are enough.
Of course you are.