Occasionally in life, there comes a time where you feel that you just don’t have any more to give. The unrelenting stress that mothering loads upon us feels like running on a treadmill with an inadequate water supply, poor air quality and no end in sight.
Lack of energy, enthusiasm, purpose in life or a bent out-of-shape perspective is symptomatic of ‘burnout or mothering fatigue’. Unrealistic expectations of what we should do just layers stress upon stress.
Society would lead us to believe that ‘good mums’ don’t shout, don’t get tired, never get angry and take care of all of her family’s needs with ease and incessant joy. But we mere mortals know that mothering isn’t really like this. Mothering is not some well-oiled machine that works without fault; Mothering at times is the hardest job in the world.
As mothers, we have got to learn to give to ourselves first each morning before we can give to others. If you were on a plane, you would be told to put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing one on your child! Life is exactly the same; you cannot keep giving out until you give to yourself first without running the risk of burnout.
One thing I used to associate with acceptance was resignation, I came from a position where I thought it was weak to accept things as they are, well I can tell you it’s not weak at all. It shows immense courage to let go of the mental programming that no longer serves you. We can choose to resist or we can choose to accept. Life will always throw us challenges, some with obvious and immediate solutions and some not so.
Acknowledge and accept your thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, they never did nor will they ever define you as a person. Accept situations as they are in the moment and start living.
Live In The Moment
Being present and focussing 100% on the task or activity you are doing right at that moment is the quickest way to mindfulness. Whether cooking, changing a nappy, on the school run or in the bath, be present. Focussing on the here and now can have transformational benefits to your stress levels. Don’t worry about the future that might never happen and don’t reflect back on the past to things you cannot change, suspend yourself in the ‘now’ and liberate your mind. Cuddling the kids? Then, really cuddle the kids, forget about the chores and just cuddle the kids.
Appreciate Your Body
Looking at your body and feeling negative or embarrassed isn’t going to make life any better. Being present and appreciating the miracle that is your physical self is far more productive. Your kids love you no matter what size or shape! Too much focus is given to what we look like and when it really boils down to it, it’s about how big our hearts are.
Spend Your Energy Wisely
Do you manage your energy wisely each day? I know I never used to, I wasn’t aware of how I used it or where I leaked it, all I knew was that it was a scatter gun approach that left me exhausted by dinner time. If there is one thing I urge you to do after reading this article it’s to evaluate and reflect on where you spend your energy. If we are going to be exhausted, let us be exhausted because we’ve invested our energy wisely and on things that add value to our lives and make us feel happy, positive and fulfilled.
Think of your energy at 100% on a pie chart in the morning and towards 0% when you fall asleep. When you wake, take a moment to decide where you want to spend your energy that day, what percentage and where? Do you want to spend 60% on arguing, fuelling negative thoughts, dealing with combative people or spending time with people that drain you?
Remember – we are talking about mothering through fatigue. You must make a decision early on in the day where to spend that energy, where to invest it and really understand where, what and who drains you or lifts you up..
Don’t underestimate the healing power of your breath. Most of us breathe in such a hurried, shallow and thoughtless way. What if we were more aware of our breath and its amazing qualities? What if we were to just slow it down and understand its many uses from sustaining our life and its rejuvenating and healing benefits. The Harvard Medical School published a study on Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response. Check it out for yourself and start really breathing.
Adopt a Mantra
The world is awash with beautiful and inspiring mantras, affirmations and quotes. Why not choose one to weave into your daily thought processes. What’s the worst that can happen? You feel inspired? Or you the penny drops that some things just aren’t serving you? Well then, that’s real progress right there.
I recently took on these two from an incredibly inspiring woman called Georgina Jones of Turn Lights On. “That was then, this is now” which means be careful what you write into your present moment. Just because something was, it doesn’t mean it still has to be and the other one is “What would love do?” so when faced with a tricky person or situation, stop, breathe and think “What would love do?” I’ll bet the answer is far more peaceful and insightful than your instant reaction to a frustrating situation.
Drop the Guilt
First of all what is guilt? Well, it’s an emotion and an internal state. Guilt can come in many forms from something you did, something you didn’t do, or from something you think you did do and so on.
Remember guilt is an emotion, it doesn’t define you.
A mother’s guilt is one of the harshest forms as we have so many things to do in the day that can manifest as a reason to feel bad about. I yelled at the kids, the house isn’t clean enough; I cooked chicken nuggets instead of home-made organic fish pie. Enough already! Ditch the guilt, it’s leaking your energy and is counter-productive. No one is judging you but you!
Now let’s get this party started!