Avoiding Mothering Burn-Out

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In case it's not abundantly clear on this here blog, I am fully a Type A personality: intense, driven, focused.  My goal for the next 35 years of my life is to become Type B (or at least A-); to be more like those calm, easy-going, free-spirited types.

Believe it or not, I think motherhood will get me there. It already has to some extent. With three little ones running around, I almost have to become a bit more zen about things. But I am also trying to take deliberate steps (yes I know, sounds very Type A-ish) to chill-out more, to care less about household messes, to buy tortillas instead of always making them, to allow the laundry pile to mount without stressing about it, to let my three-year-old have his peanut butter sandwich rather than worrying about him not eating his kale, to allow screen time when I feel my inner temperature gauge rising, to relax, slow down, chill.

I think it's important, every now and again, to take stock of the stresses and rewards in our lives, to acknowledge the things that bring us joy and those that cause us angst, to recognize the actions we are doing out of love and those we are doing out of ego. And I think it's especially important for mothers to do this, to make certain that we are really enjoying this precious and temporary time with our children, gaining great pleasure from being with them rather than worrying about that boiling pot or that unswept floor.

It's very easy to get burned out at this job. There are endless to-dos, continuous demands, sudden surprises. There are conflicts to resolve, interests to manage, feelings to acknowledge. There are no holidays, no sick days, no overtime credits. There's no quitting and no boss to blame. It can get overwhelming. And for us Type A-ers, those of us who strive to do everything fully and to perfection, it can sometimes get suffocating.

This is a long and wonderful journey and I don't want to get burnt-out. So I've been listing my priorities (yes, more Type A-ness) and I realize that the things that are most important to me (homeschooling, spending lots of time learning alongside my children, centering our time around our treasured triad of family, community and the natural world) need to be the primary focus of my days, not, for example, finding a hundred ways to cook and eat squash in my full-blown attempt to eat a completely seasonal diet.

I'm chilling out. Or at least trying to.

What about you?


  1. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com

  2. Kerry, may I share some wisdom from a veteren homeschooling mom? Two of my kids are in college and my youngest daughter just started high school. We did both school and homeschool, full-time work and parti-time work. I am a writer and educator as well as a recovering perfectionist. (Yes, type A). I think if the A for 'always', meaning I will always be my nature, but it doesn't mean I can't learn, grow, and make changes. The adage: The days are long, but the years are short, is definitely true. My kids do not remember how clean our kitchen floor was when they were little, but they do remember the art project and science experiments, the holiday traditions, and backyard Olympics. Always keep the big picture in mind. How do you want your kids to describe YOU and their homeschooling days? And finally, carve out time for yourself any way you can.

  3. My 3rd is 6 months old and boy....adding him to the mix has been crazy!! I can totally relate to trying to find that balance between all the many priorities in life. Cleaning is important, cooking healthy meals is important, homeschooling is important, teaching values is important, PLAYING is important, my husband is important! Sigh. So many good things to do in life, huh? I guess I just have to keep reminding myself of things that will create lasting memories and enrich our lives. Who knew motherhood would be so dang hard? :)

  4. This is a huge issue for me! Reconciling my reality (messy, unfinished, sometimes grumpy) with my vision of myself as a perfect mama is a great stressor. And burn-out is a very real challenge for me. What I'm working on now is trying to stay aware enough of my own internal experience to avoid getting to the end of my...patience, energy, tolerance, etc. And finding a way to let go of those internal pressures that are so much more difficult to manage than any external pressures. Yesterday we celebrated the glorious day by running away from all responsibilities, the very messy house, cooking, schoolwork, and played at Walden (http://urbanwildchild.blogspot.com). Water play in the sun! The best way to avoid burn-out!