Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Burnout

View from the living room of a garden that needs some attention.
April is gone, and with it, my patience and energy.

I'm calling it Spring Burnout, or end-of-school-year overload -- just a general malaise of being "done" with most everything and anything. All I really just want to do is wander without a care in the world.

But that's not possible.

I was thinking I was alone in this recent attitude of mine until another mother just reiterated the very same feelings to me. And then another. I'm sure there are more of you out there as well, those of you who give and give and give until you just want to lock the door and hide from the outside world.

The May and June calendars are just full of stuff. Holidays and events and concerts and Communions and school days and budget votes and meetings and parties and graduations and Scouts and sporting events and everything under the sun -- right? It's really not much different than any other time of year, except we now have eight months of school under our belts, which means it has been eight months of this stuff, and that is draining.

Since the twins arrived, I have been trying to keep it all together, but it hasn't been easy. My husband's job has required that he work more lately, including from home late at night and on weekends. Thank the Lord for my parents and their help, which allows me to keep up with Big Girl's life and school. There have been some compromises, but for the most part, I'm proud to say that I'm making an effort to be there for her, and her activities, and her school as much as I can. It is important to me, and to her. I want to be involved. Soon I will have two more in school who may also benefit from the work I do now, which makes it even more worthwhile.

But that doesn't mean I don't get exhausted, and there are things that get neglected that need to be done. I keep up with the house, but I just can't do everything and I get stressed when the garden needs weeding or I have a basket of clothes to put away or a deadline to meet for work. Sometimes -- or shall I say, often -- people tell me: "You need to cut back! You shouldn't do so much." I get that, but there are so many reasons that it's not entirely possible. First -- what gets cut?

Do I cut Scouts and affect not only Big Girl's life, but the lives of eight other girls? I already feel that I can't do everything I should be doing, which gives me tremendous guilt when I hear what some other troops do or don't do. And right now I have a dilemna in that I need more training for Scouts but there is really not time to do it based on the training dates. Or that training requires time which I don't have. And then there is planning, ordering, researching, and personal lives getting in the way.There are so many, many factors that affect Scouts that it sometimes seems like climbing Mount Everest to me.

Do I cut out my role as a leader in a club I run at Big Girl's school? I don't want to do that, because I know the program makes a difference and fills a need, and it only meets every other week. And it relates to my field of work. And the kids really like it. But it requires time at home too. Luckily I have help with it this year, which has lightened my load.

Do I stop doing any PTO work, give up my role on the a parent council, committees, etc.? I feel I do the bare minimum as it is compared to some parents, and I want to be involved. Involved parents make a difference in their children's lives -- that is a proven fact. We seem to have so few active parents that it's necessary to contribute to keep it going, even if it's only here and there.

Do I stop involving myself in the public school budget matters, which are a passion of mine? No. Because exactly what I said -- they are passion of mine that will benefit my children's education and their future.

Do I let my gardens turn to weeds, my house turn into a hoarder's paradise and my laundry pile up, etc. etc.? No, no, and no, and no to all the other numerous household tasks that must be done. Believe me, I have let many things slide in this category and I don't like it. My house needs some attention in many areas and I don't live in a palace. I have a long mental "to do" list of rooms that need a coat of paint or closets that need cleaning. I like order even it is not achieved on a daily basis. It is still a goal, and a necessary one at that. I know that the mess will still be there but the children grow up, blah blah blah, but I can't live in filth. It will make me a miserable mother.

Do I stop this blog? Absolutely not -- it is a relaxing outlet for me. I need a voice.

Do I not work my part-time job? Uh, absolutely not! I need the money. And I know there will not be a gap in my resume if I need a job in the future.

Every one of these things fills a need in some way. Even if it takes up time, precious time.

One of those needs these things fill is me. I need a break from my home life sometimes, and having something to do often fills that need. I'm not one to go to a spa or get my nails done; I don't have a million dollars for unnecessary shopping trips on a regular basis. Getting out of the house alone to a meeting, etc., is a break from the reality of life, which can be maddening some days with twin toddlers and household tasks and work.

Lately I feel that I am constantly battling the calendar and the clock. Luckily, the after-school club has basically ended; I have one more task to wrap up for that. And Big Girl's religion class has ended, so that is one less commitment. But we still have end-of-year concerts, birthday parties, holidays, and miscellaneous activities to fill the void.

I could say "no" to everything -- I've seen people just suddenly back off and pull out of every commitment outside of their home -- but I don't think I can do that. So instead I just muddle through, as best I can, one day at a time. Yesterday was a real challenge; today, as I write this, it is a slightly better day. Although the rain is likely contributing to my melancholy mood, I do what I do best when faced with a mid-afternoon mind racing through all the tasks which must be completed:

No fancy list-making for me: Back of a miscellenous flyer and Sharpie works just fine.
I take out my trusty Sharpie (Oh, how I love Sharpies!) and a clean sheet of paper and make an extensive, organized list  broken down by categories like "school" and "work" and "house" and "errands" and "this week" and "future" etc... It clears my mind of all the clutter. And then the twins get put in their rooms for an afternoon nap, whether they will sleep or not, I turn on the coffee pot and spend 15 minutes picking up toys and figuring out where to start on this list before Big Girl steps off the bus. And by the time that bus pulls up, the toys are picked up, everything in my mind is on one piece of paper, I've got caffeine in my system and I'm a little better and a little sharper and ready to face life again.

Here I go. Let's cross some things off that list. It may take more than one day, but I'm ready.


  1. I feel ya on the burnout.
    Don't think of it cutting back, look at it as allowing others to have the opportunity to get involved :0)

  2. Laurie Anne, that's a great way of looking at it!