Motherhood – A Recipe for Burnout and the Cure

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Self Care: What Is It and Why Is it So Important

One of my favorite opening lines to a book is in Gloria Furman’s Missional Motherhood. She opens her introduction with, “You are more than just a mom.” As I read it tears began to well up in my eyes. The Lord knew how badly I needed to read those words at that exhausted moment, especially when opening a book I assumed was adding to the list of things I as a mother “should” be or “needed” to be to work in the field of ministry.

Why did I need a reminder that there is more to my life than simply being the life support for other people as they progress from newborn to young adults? How is becoming a mother so deeply fulfilling and yet leaves me in a season where I am spiritually starving for edification and connection with other human beings? In all reality, I am never alone. I have someone attached to me throughout the day. I homeschool my kids so they are ALWAYS at my feet, always asking questions, and always keeping me very, very busy. You’d think human connection would be in such abundant supply that it would be the last thing a mom would want. I’ve read stories of mothers so overloaded by connection to their kids and so “touched out” that they literally book hotel rooms, in the same city they live in, just to get a break from their blessings.

When I step back I can see that being a mom is a job, and if you never clock out of your job you will get burned out. It reminds me of the workaholics I know, who are chained to their computers and believe that by eliminating all other distractions for 12+ hours a day they are more focused, more productive and most valuable in their company or field of work. Counterintuitively I think they are creating the opposite reality. Working nonstop leads to burn out, and a loss of perspective on what their work could look like if only they’d take a break and learn a healthy home/work life balance. Basically, having a better perspective means being more efficient, making less work for yourself because you can see the areas you are most needed and most impactful in and then delegating the rest of the work to others, rather than believing the lie that you can “do it all” and just keep adding more jobs to juggle.

So how can we “Clock Out” of a job that’s 24/7 and will be as long as we have children living in our home?

Two words: Self Care. Caring for and mothering oneself isn’t just a luxury or something we should feel guilty about doing. It’s time you NEED to take in order to continue to pour yourself out day in and day out, you NEED to reset. Don’t just add it to your to-do list, since it will always make its way to the bottom of your ever-growing responsibilities. Make self care a priority because you, your mental, spiritual, emotional and your physical health are important. Your tiny acts of kindness, love, and self-respect honor the person that God has created and endowed with a massive undertaking: bringing up the next generation of Christians to declare His glory to the nations.

Self Care Means:

  • Creating daily/weekly/monthly rituals to take care of your personal needs.
  • Delegating some of your load to others, even hiring others if that’s what it takes.
  • Scheduling time that your spouse honors to give you time alone/away from the kids.
  • Scheduling time with your spouse because marriage care is self-care since you are one.
  • Finding time with friends and other adults to reconnect and remember that there is more to your life than your job of being a mother.
  • AND remembering that if you can help another woman find time to care for herself, you should.

As believers, we are part of an interconnected web of people who are eager to help. If you are stuck in a place where self-care sounds unimportant or impossible, talk to women around you who can help. A mom of teenagers heard me talking about how hard having a newborn was, they have been our regular babysitters since that week for years now. A group of moms and I regularly meet to study the Word together and share in each other’s blessings and burdens. This very post is thanks to my mother who knows how much I love my children and also how important the sanity is that only comes from a quiet break from them. So while I’m not in the place where I need to book a night in a hotel room, I support women who do.

 

What Self Care rituals do you currently embrace? Which ones would you like to incorporate into your life?

 

Further Resources 

Missional Motherhood – Gloria Furman

 

Post Header Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

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1 thought on “Motherhood – A Recipe for Burnout and the Cure”

  1. When I read “So how can we “Clock Out” of a job that’s 24/7 and will be as long as we have children living in our home?” I had to chuckle to myself. I am now in my early 60’s, and with Abba’s help, have raised 3 children who all love and serve the Lord. I have also been blessed with 8 grandchildren who are between the ages of nearly one and 8 years old. Motherhood doesn’t end with them moving out and getting lives of their own. New challenges take the place of the ones you are facing while they are young. The “splendor of old men may be their gray hair”, but I assure you, the one of the true joys of being a grandma is being able to give my children “date nights” and “me” time when /if they need it. And, of course, they are frequently the focus of my prayers and petitions before The Father.

    By all means, take time for yourself – self care is wisdom. I can speak for myself and many older women in my Congregation who have more time on their hands now – we love being needed, and enjoy lavishing attention on young ones. So, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of the gray-haired around you.

    Looking back wistfully some days, I actually miss the chaos and demands of a home-school mum. I am so grateful that I was able to home-school my kids for a couple of years when we visited America. I am equally grateful that my children grew up in a world less dominated by technology – and had the chance to run feral through the woods and along the shoreline around Point Roberts, WA (before we moved back to Australia). I marvel at the energy it takes now to keep up with little and fully appreciate why we have children when we are young – especially after a busy, full-on session of Shabbat School with the younger ones from our Congregation.

    (P.S.: I’ll add you to my prayers)

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