How I Recovered From Mummy Burnout.

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Less than a month ago, I was almost on the edge.

I was really, really tired. I was emotionally all over the place. Every day dragged and I was constantly irritated with the kids. Situations with them were trying even when, normally, they wouldn’t have been.

And, like always, you never know how tired and at the end of yourself you are. You keep pushing through, hoping you’ll wake up one morning and feel better. But you don’t. I certainly didn’t.

This year has been a very busy year and hard. Tim is out a few nights a week, working often 50 hours +, on a billion different rosters at church… And being alone with two kids under three much of the time is amazing, but draining.

One Friday morning in the shower, I had had enough. I text Tim and said, “This is too hard.” And I sent lots of arrow prayers up but, when you’re in a bit of a state, your brain tells you that God isn’t listening. Or that He isn’t close. Or that you’re going to feel like this forever.

But, of course He is. Always.

{And I laugh at myself because, how many times must He remind me of how amazingly awesome He really is?}

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That Monday, Tim hurt his back. Badly. It was disasterous at the time, especially when the physiotherapy actually made his back worse. After never taking more than two days off work in his life, he was forced to stay home for over two weeks.

But God knows, doesn’t He?

Both of us were burnt out. Both of us were at the end of ourselves. Both of us desperately needed space, time to rest, recover, and recouperate. Being a husband/father/provider is hard work; being a wife/mother/homemaker is hard work.

So when it was obvious that Tim wasn’t going back to work anytime soon, we went into holiday mode. And, oh, it was glorious.

By the time Tim went back to work, we were different people. And for me, I felt like a new wife and a new mother. I felt like the real me again. The one who loves this life. The mother who was writing about having a vision for motherhood while struggling to retain her own was behind me. I was back.

God had made it really clear that Tim and I needed to have a break. So here’s what we both did to help ourselves get better.

Rest

We both took lots of different times to have space to lie down. Obviously Tim had to do lots of lying down for the beginning because of his back, and it was really beneficial for him. And when he was able, he took charge of the kids and enabled me to rest. So I slept. At 2pm, I would sleep for over an hour. I did this lots of times over the two weeks. We took turns getting up with the kids in the morning while the other one slept.

We were really generous with one another and cared for the other person’s needs. Sleep was much needed for both of us.

And I would say that sleep is the foundation for a person needing to recover from burnout.

If you have trouble sleeping, I really recommend natural sleep drops {not an affiliate}. When our daughter goes through a period of time when she doesn’t sleep well, sleep drops really help encourage sleep. They’re not addictive or bad for you. They are completely safe.

I would also recommend using an essential oil like lavender. I put one or two drops on my pillow and I really believe they help me calm to sleep. Again, I put this on my daughter’s pillow every night and I believe it makes a big difference for her sleeping patterns.

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Relax

Relaxing may sound exactly like resting to you, but I believe they are quite different. Whilst resting is doing exactly what God did on the Sabbath {ie. He stopped creating}, relaxing can quite easily involve doing.

Rest is giving your body {and mind, soul, and heart} a break. To me, relaxing is doing anything that brings you joy. It revitalises your soul. It restores your emotional and mental well-bring. It reminds you that you are you and you enjoy relaxing in this way because it’s part of who you are.

Do you relax by exercising? reading? hiking? cooking? writing? coffee catch-ups? watching tv? playing games? painting? organising? sewing? helping? doing the dishes?

The way someone relaxes will look completely different to another person. I think it can often depend on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. An introvert {like me} would love nothing better than to be alone and read a book or write a letter to someone. An extrovert might completely thrive and relax by shopping in a busy mall and catching up with a friend.

Whatever it is that feeds and nourishes you – the way God made you – that is relaxing. And when you’re trying to recover from burnout, doing what relaxes you will be incredibly healing and restorative to your mental health.

Regroup

What do I mean by regroup?

Once you feel on the mend and you don’t want to run away from everyday things that threaten to overwhelm you, start evaluating your life. Look back on the period leading up to your burnout and be honest with yourself about why you ended up where you did.

Have you over-committed yourself? Have you taken on things that are good but just aren’t for this season of your life? Have you over-committed your children to too many things? Are you having enough down-time at home? Are your standards too high? Are you living a “by works” faith? Are you having regular relationship time with God? Are you feeding your soul so you’re not pouring out on empty?

There are many questions we need to ask ourselves. It can be hard, but it is necessary.

Once you know why you’re in this place, make active changes. Cut back on roles. Change routines. Set up a routine. Have a planner so you can see your life on paper and manage it just as if you were your own PA.  Allow yourself a break. Ask God to show you what to do.

Life is as complicated as you make it. It can be as simple as you make it. But YOU have to make it that way.

The biggest thing we need to do as married women with children is remember that God expects nothing more of us than: loving your husband, loving your children, run your home, and care for your neighbours as yourself.

{There is a reason why Paul told the older women to instruct the younger women. Those young women were being busy and nosey everywhere else but in the sphere God had placed them in for that season. And because it’s in the Bible, God knows we need it today in our crazy, hectic 21st century.}

Burnout is a horrible place to be in. Life still demands you. You’re still needed. But you can recover from it. You need to be active in getting the rest you need, the relaxation your well-being requires, and the opportunity to get your priorities in order. This is what I did and, by God’s mercy and grace, I’m out on the other side.

Have you ever gone through burnout? How have you coped and recovered?

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8 Comments

  1. So glad for you-rest is, indeed, vital. My husband has the gray around his eyes as he is putting in long days of physical labor. Winter is coming and jobs must be finished before the snow flies. Still, he is working only 60 hrs a week. Far less than he used to.

    Between working late nights on the weekends, homeschooling six kiddos, getting them all to their various activities and living with night owl teens I am tired. I never thought I would miss the days of being a stay at home mom with 4 kids under six, but teenagers never sleep!! And they eat so much. And go through mountains of laundry. Yet these days will be gone as quickly as the days of my house full of little ones. Our baby is three-not really a baby and with just one in my lap for stories it feels rather empty. Weary moms everywhere, I beg you to cherish these days because it will be over in the blink of an eye.

    Bless you for keeping your vision in the midst of young children who need your daily assistance. Praise God that he forced rest on you when you needed it most.

    1. Erin, you are amazing. My life is not even a quarter as busy as yours. I would be permanently tired if I lived in your shoes, too. Thank you for your encouragement, and I pray that YOU get some much needed rest and relaxation when you can.

  2. A wonderful post Erin. I think it’s so important to look after self, and blog about this often. I love your thoughts on this topic, and also love that you’ve woven the scriptures into your words. Just beautiful. Mimi xxx

  3. The trouble about being a mom is that even when I rest I don’t rest. I mean I sleep and I do what I want for an hour or so but it’s like any vacation. Part of me is always dreading the return to the normal life. Sigh. I just recently spent my first whole night away from my kids. They are 6 and almost 4.

    1. Yes, leading up to my burn out {and during it} I definitely felt the same way. I had lost my passion for being a mother. The key, I believe, to being a mother who loves it *most of the time* is having a purpose and vision for it. For me, being a Christian, my purpose and vision come from how I believe God sees children and what the Bible teaches me about motherhood. Then, it comes from my own upbringing and what fuels me to repeat/change from my family. So much of how we live is in our minds and it’s keeping our minds in the right space. I hope you have that passion and vision for raising your little ones and that you get your well-earned rest x

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