5 Tips for Avoiding Burnout
When I left Zakari's evaluation appointment, I was ready to go. I was equipped with a binder full of new programs based on the Doman Method. On the trip home, I dreamed how this would play out. Trust me, I had a long time to think, since we landed up stuck in the Toronto Airport while I walked a tired 5 year old up and down the terminal for 8 hours. But I had a fire lit in me, and I thought I was unstoppable.
I was a professional mother: a term coined by the late Glenn Doman.
It was my job to fight 24/7 for my son. His wellness was completely in my hands.
The thing is, it’s never as black and white as you imagine. I forgot a major step and caused myself some heartache, and in the end my son suffered too. I was confronted with the unthinkable early on.
But Professional Mothers don't burnout, right? I mean we know what the stakes are. We are the difference between our children reaching their full potential or not.
I can say that I came out of the gate strong! For the first few weeks after we got home, I worked tirelessly on creating materials for my son. I sat at my kitchen table and pumped out word cards and homemade books. I researched, created, printed and cut everything I needed, well into the night. Then I made sure to share all of what I had done with other parents using the program. In the back of my mind I was thinking, I need to blog about this.
Not only was I taking our Doman Method program to the next level, I was also embarking on our homeschooling journey. My son was 5 years old and officially of age to start kindergarten. The thought of holding him back and just focusing on our programs was unthinkable. What kind of Professional Mother was I? I could easily do both, right?
Oh did I mention that I also run a business? I have a home daycare. So I'm caring for other children too! So guess what? They were now part of our program.
I had my little checklist I made (OK, it was a page long...) with enough copies to last me 6 months, spiral bound into a Record Book. I was moving and shaking from the time I got up, to the time I went to sleep.
Then something happened. A couple weeks into our new routine I got really sick. I had worked with kids for over a decade as pediatric dental assistant, and as a home child care provider. Over the years, I had built a rock solid immune system. But here I was feeling like I had been hit by a truck.
Our program got put on hold for a few days. But as soon as the fever passed, we got back to work. Was I fully recovered? No way, but in my head I was a professional mother. I had to get back to working with Zakari. If I didn't, who would?
A week later, suddenly my eyes became super sensitive to light. That night I had to call my dad to come pick me up and take me to the ER, while my husband Travis stayed at home with the kids. There was no way I could drive myself. I was sitting in my dark living room, wearing sunglasses, and the street lights were still burning my eyes like I was looking into the sun.
I had developed an eye infection and ulcers on my eyes, that to this day has left scarring on my eyes. I'm no longer a candidate for laser eye surgery. I was unable to drive for several weeks, had to use expensive eye drops for months, and wear sunglasses indoors for a week or two.
But as soon as I was able to see enough to read with my son, we started programs again. Guess what happened then? You guessed it, I got sick again.
Apparently I'm a slow learner. At this point, I realized I was missing an important key to being a professional mother.
Professional Mothers are NOT martyrs.
We are not expected to put our health and wellbeing above our children's 100% of the time. Of course yes, parenting requires sacrifice. While I hate to use a cliche, the saying is true: You can't pour from an empty cup.
I discovered that I needed to find a balance. One where I could help my child without completely burning myself out. Quitting my job was out of the question, so I also had to factor that in.
But the staff has taught me that this is what I need to do with my child! I have to do it all, right?
Yes, what you learned at the course and in your appointments is a very important piece to helping your child get well. The thing is the staff is giving you the full program. That is what you paid for. Some families cannot make the full program work at some stages of life.
In the perfect world, I would quit my job, and just work with my son. But right now in this stage of life I need to work to help support our family.
I realized I need to evaluate what is possible for us and what isn't. I think this is where parents need to be realistic with their staff coach. et them help you prioritize which programs you should focus on.
Get those pillars in place, and your family life in balance. Then you can slowly start adding those other programs in. One at a time, and gradually. Allow them to become part of the routine you have in place. At any point you start feeling like you getting out of balance, look at what you have just added. Its OK to scale it back for a difficult season in life.
A smaller, but consistent program is much more beneficial than a HUGE erratic program that leaves you emotionally and physical sucked out.
And DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER FAMILIES! You will just drive yourself crazy. Every family is different!
One thing that will allow you to get more done in the day with your child is SELF CARE.
Here are 5 changes I made to my lifestyle that helped me get back on track as a professional mother:
1) Getting Enough Sleep: I have to make sure I am getting enough rest so I can be the best mom I can be. Anyone that knows me, knows I'm a grump when I don't sleep properly. Plus this allows my immune system to be on high alert and helping me fight off colds, infections and bugs.
2) Water Intake: Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. In order for me to running at my full potential I have to careful I'm getting in enough water for my weight and activity level. When I'm not drinking enough water, I find myself becoming sluggish and I'm at a higher risk of getting a headache and body pains. A professional mother does not have time for that, so I try my best to get my daily dose of water in.
3) Time Away: In order to be the best I can be for my children, I need to schedule meaningful time away to breath. Now I'm not taking about a Caribbean cruise every week. What I mean is a chance to get away for a few hours to recharge my battery. At first, I would go every Monday and sit in Starbucks and work on program materials. This was not a break!
Eventually I realized this and made some changes. Now I go to Weight Watchers with my mom on Tuesdays. Here I'm working on me! Then afterwards I go to a Cafe or restaurant with WiFi and work on something I'm passionate about, my blog! I also schedule a weekend to go shopping with my mom in Fargo(a few hours South from Winnipeg) every 6 months. When I come back I'm more rested and patience with my children. Plus my husband has the chance to spend one on one time with our son and it has helped strengthen their father-son bond.
Now every mom's time away will look different. It all depends on the level of support and the stage of life your in. Time away might be a evening soak in a bath with candles and a cup of tea while dad takes the kids for a walk to the park. It might be using that health insurance and going for a monthly massage. Book Club? Recreational Hockey Team? The sky is the limit!
4) Allowing Flexibility: We are raising children, not little soldiers. Sometimes kids need time off to spend at the beach, at a children's event at the library, or a cousin's birthday party. Its OK to schedule these in.
Kids will get sick. Mom will get sick. Maybe you just had a baby. Or your grandfather passed away. You should take a break from your program and heal! Your child can't work if they are not well. They also can sense if you’re not well. Once everyone is better, jump back in where you started!
5) Setting Boundaries: This one is so hard! Do you have a friend that always seems to call and want to chat, but it’s time to do the program? You don't want to hurt their feelings, but you know its affecting your child. Do you have a relative that tells you that your Doman Method program is a waste of time? But you have seen the progress your child has made, yet this starts to make you doubt yourself.
Its time to start setting boundaries. A lot of the time people don't like it when you set boundaries. Its uncomfortable, but your top priority is you, your child and your family. I could spend hours sharing about boundaries, however I'd rather leave it to the experts. I highly recommend everyone read the book: “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life”, by Dr. Henry Cloud. Since reading that book, I have been able to set healthy boundaries for myself and I no longer allow toxic people to control my life.
Every day is a balancing act. I'm not perfect. I have times when I start tipping into the “Burn Out Zone”. However, now I understand that when I try to do everything and completely sacrifice myself, everyone suffers. Its easier to catch myself and get back on track.
Remember that your child needs a healthy professional mother, not a martyr.