Have you ever had a mummy meltdown? I have stopped counting how many I have had.
They started when my beautiful reflux baby was four months old. Four months of 20 minute day sleeps, four months of sleeping no longer than 3 hours at a time and four months of having to hold her perfectly vertically while awake because the pain of her reflux was so relentless. With my family interstate and a husband with a full time job I was exhausted and recovery from this early parenthood obliteration took a long, long time.
Between keeping the house running, trying to learn everything I could to raise a healthy and well adjusted baby and striving every day to be the best mother I ended up bombing out big-time.
The secret to avoiding mummy burnout is knowing the signs of impending sizzle!
Forgetfulness Forgetting events, tasks, general day to day necessities means that your mental capacity to cope is starting to wane
Sleeplessness Running constantly on adrenaline means that your body starts to forget how to relax. This becomes a vicious cycle where little sleep encourages the body to find more adrenaline and results in ongoing sleep difficulties
Anxiety While a moderate amount of anxiety goes hand in hand with motherhood (making sure they are not chewing on power cords, jumping off furniture or pulling the dogs tail!) it should not be your constant companion. If you are experiencing ongoing tightness in your chest, headaches, neck and shoulder pain or a sense of restlessness you may be stuck in an anxiety loop.
Getting snappy At everyone. Your partner, your mum, your child, your dog, other drivers, people in queues… you get it. It may be very warranted but you start noticing that the things that you would normally be able to let slide really irritate you.
Getting teary Not usual for mumma’s filled with oxytocin (our love and bonding hormone) but again it’s when the teariness becomes intrusive it’s a sign that the tiredness is becoming problematic.
When tiredness and overwhelm creeps in our problem solving ability has normally dissolved so here are some simple strategies to get back on track
#1. Time Out
Every day for at least fifteen minutes and at least one hour a week. On your own, with a loved one and doing something fun. If you have a small baby schedule a regular night per week that someone can help you with the baby so that you can get a solid 5-6 hour sleep. It helps us remember who we are, helps us slow down and offers us the opportunity to return to parenthood a little more refreshed.
#2. Soothe your body
With a bath or a facial or a massage. Connecting with our physical being can be a great means for bringing your awareness back to self. As mothers we put our needs at the bottom of the list of priorities but we cannot function eternally from an empty tank. Sometimes we just need to bump ourselves up to the top of the list.
To your partner, to your kids, to your family and friends or pay someone. $60 a week for a cleaner, ironing lady etc can buy you hours of happiness. Drawing up a roster of duties helps other members of the household know what the weekly expectations are. Include your daily duties to demonstrate how much you are doing, it also provides helpers with a guide to additional ways they can assist.
#4. Say no
For a week or a month or however long you need to catch your breath. It will also make people appreciate your time more when you say yes!
#5. Limit screen time
We are so incredibly overstimulated and overwhelmed by information and accessibility. Switch off the TV by 7pm. Read books- real books, do puzzles or craft, take a social media holiday, finish work early and don’t take work home. When we give ourselves the opportunity to have quality down time we are far more effective when we are switched back on again.
#6. Nourish yourself
Smoothies, soups, salads and supplements. Smoothies and soups are easy to prepare and easy for your body to digest. I have at least one smoothie a day boosted with supplements to help nourish my body. For quick and easy dinners I make up batches of soup in winter and salads in summer to minimise meal prep and allow for a few minutes of downtime at the end of the day.
Instead of doing all of the washing just do half. Instead of mopping every week mop every 2-3. Instead of visiting your family weekly do it fortnightly. Unsubscribe to email newsletters. Donate things that you don’t use so that you don’t have to maintain them. Reduce commitments. Minimize wherever and whenever you can.
#8. Give yourself a break!
You are keeping humans alive! You are feeding them, caring for them, nurturing them. Who cares if the dishes don’t get done today or tomorrow. Who cares if the house is untidy. Give yourself some latitude especially when you are stretched to your limit.
#9. Add in some gentle exercise
No running, no pump or spin classes, no hot yoga. Walking, hatha yoga or some very light weights and preferably outdoors. Getting your body moving but not over extending it will gradually start to build stamina again. Go slow
#10. Be kind to yourself
When you are busy being kind to everyone else we often run out of time to be kind to ourselves. Remind yourself of all that you are achieving, be gentle with yourself. We often compare ourselves without knowing the real truth of another mother’s situation or we berate ourselves for not being a superwoman every single day of the year. You know what you are doing an amazing job especially when you don’t feel like you are. So give yourself the acknowledgement, the rest and the rewards that you deserve.
Start out small but start now. Where will you start making a difference to yourself today?
If you need help getting started give me a call for your free 15 minute consultation to see how The Nurture Foundation can help you feel more nurtured everyday.