I was waiting to pick up Lucas from preschool this week when a fellow mom of 3 little ones asked me how I was doing. My immediate response was "Good! How are you?". Then as I thought about it for a second, I let out a long sigh and said the exact same words out loud that the other Mom did. "Actually, I'm really tired". We had a good little chat about just how difficult the transition was from 2 to 3 kids, and how demanding and exhausting our days felt. We both agreed that have 3 kids aged 5 and under was a really tiring stage of life.
I haven't been feeling quite like myself for a little while now. I've been extremely tired, to the point of going to bed at 8pm. I have little patience for my kids. I've been getting daily headaches, which is usually an indication to me that I'm experiencing a lot of stress and not taking care of my body. I've lost motivation to keep up with the house, and all I want to do is just take a really long break from my responsibilities as a Mom. Someone recently told me about "burnout", which is actually a real thing. It is defined as emotional and physical exhaustion, and very common when you are a caregiver.
For me, I think my burnout is the result of a number of things. For one, my kids have been sick a lot lately, which puts a burden on me both mentally and physically. The cold dreary Winter weather also doesn't help matters.
Each of my children is also at a very demanding stage right now. Ryan has been having some behavioral and attitude problems lately that have left me baffled. He and Lucas still fight constantly, and I am unable to leave them alone because of how they will harm each other. Lucas is not only aggressive, but also extremely demanding of my attention every second of the day. I am working hard to teach him the importance of patience, but he literally doesn't leave me alone all day. I love him dearly but he is simply exhausting. And Jenna is a sweet little girl, but also very needy. She is at the stage where I can't take my eyes off of her, or she will get hurt or get in to something she shouldn't.
So at any given moment, Jenna could fall on her face, while at the same time Lucas could punch a hole through our wall, and Ryan could be screaming awful things at me because I can't help him RIGHT THIS SECOND. And if I choose to help Jenna first because she is hurt, Lucas and Ryan will find each other and start punching each other in the face. This scenario happens over and over again throughout the day. I just feel like I am constantly in a state of fight or flight. I can never just be "down" or "off". I always have to be "on".
And finally, Jenna has been waking up constantly at night, and not easily going back to sleep. I think this is perhaps the biggest contributor to how I am feeling. On an average night I could be up at 10pm, midnight, and then from 2am-4am, trying to get her back to sleep. The lack of sleep over time has really started to take a toll on me. My brain feels foggy and I just feel so unmotivated during the day. It's like my energy has been zapped out of me. I typically have a lot more energy and motivation, and I hate feeling so tired.
Writing about how I've been feeling helps a lot. Just recognizing that I haven't been feeling well and that something needs to change, is a great starting point. One goal of mine is to implement "quiet time" again. I used to do this before Jenna was born, and I need to figure out a way to get a break in the middle of the day again. I know Lucas and Ryan could benefit from this. I just need to figure out the logistics of separating them and keeping them quiet! Physically, I know I need to get back to proper eating, along with some outside time in the sun. Adam and I are planning on doing another 21 Day Fix beginning next week, and I am looking forward to how my body will feel when fueled with healthy whole foods.
Have you experienced burnout as a Mom? What do you do when you feel unmotivated, tired, or in need of a break? Can you identify with any of this?