If they ask me for something one more time, I’m gonna scream.”

I miss my old life. I miss being a woman. I’m not a woman anymore, or a wife, I’m just a snack dispenser.”

I’m so bored of this. I’m sooooo booooored. I’m SO BORED.”

All I do ALL DAY is clean and then evening comes and I make dinner and afterwards I’m exhausted and I look around the house and the entire thing is a shitshow again. It doesn’t even last a day. It barely lasts a few hours. I’m so sick of it.”

I can’t handle the constant whiiiiininng anymore. I miss being spoken to like a human being.”

I can’t wait for life to just slow down a little bit, just enough that I can organize my thoughts.”

These are just a few of the things I thought or said aloud to my partner last week. It was a doozy. And I might be waiting for it to “slow down a little” but I’m also keenly aware that it’s not going to. I’ve been cruising steadily towards burnout for six years and I’ll keep on cruising for many more.

I need help. I need to ask my community here for ideas how to avoid burnout when you don’t live near family. For those of you who moved away from family or don’t have a large family, if you are somehow able to avoid the deep, deeply felt burnout of never having a break from your children, how do you do it? How do you avoid the burnout?

And I know what so many of the mothers of the older generations will say: the laundry can wait. The house doesn’t need to be spotless all the time. Slow down and be present and take a breath because it all passes by so quickly.

But here’s the thing, it can’t wait. It’s too much. We are five people generating a colossal amount of dirty laundry, dirty dishes, dirt dirt dirt. We have recycling to be sorted, garbage to be taken out, meals to be prepped, groceries to be picked up, kids to be dropped off, school, ballet, football, art class, work, yard work, spring bulbs to plant and fall leaves to rake, holiday presents to add to wish lists so that magic can be generated for memories. Friends to check in with, emails to send, PAC meetings to attend, homework to check, rooms to be tidied, bedding to be washed, bums to be cleaned, hair to be braided, fundraisers to be donated to, and after all of that has been taken care of, time and energy must be mustered so that I can find something for me, some kind of hobby or project so that I don’t lose my mind the way I’ve already lost myself.

Anyway, I may not know who I am anymore, but I still know what’s important to me: family, friendship, community care. Learning and growing.

So please let me learn from you; teach me how to combat burnout. Help me grow into a functioning, happier mother (and hopefully, eventually, a person) by telling me what works for you so I can try it and see if it’ll work for me.

I’m gonna go do some laundry now and I’ll check back later to read your gems of wisdom 🙂

Shifting Seasons (and Attitudes)

Where are all my SAD gals at? Our Seasonal Affective Disorder is gearing up to hit hard as soon as the clocks change this weekend and I, for one, am not ready for it. I mean, I’m never ready for winter to come, but this year’s hot, summery Autumn has really contributed to my lack of preparedness for winter’s arrival. Yet here we are, a few days away from Daylight Savings Time, the holiday season, and the freezing temps.

My least favourite months of the year have always been November, December, January, and February. The darkest, coldest, most dreary months. Every year at this time I start an internal countdown because I can’t wait until March. The spring time change, increasing daylight hours, crocuses and tulips popping, sun setting a little later each evening….sigh. The anticipation of a coming summer is so grand and full of promise.

But as a parent I am keenly aware that constantly looking to the next thing has consequences. It’s so easy to wish away the sleepless newborn phase, then wish away the whiny toddler phase, then wish away the energy-sucking preschool phase, then wish away the demanding school years. All of a sudden we have a kid who we didn’t enjoy raising nearly as much as we could have! This is something I’ve ruminated on endlessly these past six years. Though some stages (and some winters) can feel truly unending, it’s crucial to our happiness that we try to sit in a place of gratitude for the present season (and if not gratitude, at least growth. I’m looking at you, Colic Phase!).

So here I am, at the outset of another dark and dreary Canadian winter. I know I prefer the summer. I know I’ll miss my daily walks in the sunshine up local trails. I know our beach dinners will be few and far between so that our children’s fingers don’t freeze off while they clutch their stone-cold snacks and look out at the stormy sea. But what would happen if I chose to focus less on these losses and more on the potential opportunities?

The opportunity to unplug.

The opportunity to turn inward.

The opportunity to grow.

The opportunity to move slow.

The opportunity to be still.

The opportunity to ask questions.

The opportunity to focus.

The opportunity to get close.

The opportunity to hibernate.

Some winter seasons the thing that gets me through is the hustle; I find a thing that makes me feel passionate and excited and I work toward it with that renewed New Year Energy that I love so much. I do DIYs around the house, get stuff done, and plow through the dark winter until I see the light of spring on the horizon. But this year I’m curious about using winter to slow down, to mull some things over, ask questions and seek answers (this is sounding far more cryptic than I mean it to). Being still and slow is the thing that I am the worst at, the thing that I rail against every day.

But I think this winter I wanna try something new, try to stop, and log off, and look inward.


[For more practical tips for enjoying a long winter, I love this article from my favourite blog Cup of Jo]