Burnout

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Is it possible to get to the end of the school holidays and feel burnt out? Sure we have had a break, had time as a family, visited with friends, played in the surf and had some great chilled out time. But. And this is quite a big but, could it be that really I am exhausted?

Holidays require me, the mother of 5 kidlets to be on duty 24/7, without a break. There is not time out when the little people go to school. No time for that walk alone, coffee in the sun or even visiting the bathroom alone. For the last few months I have been running – on the inside at least. This what I notice happens when I don’t get a break.

  • If you are anything like me you will notice yourself becoming irritable for no reason, anxious and overwhelmed by random, inconsequential things. And then your husband notices this behavior too and that hurts.
  • Taking care of me becomes a distant memory. I work myself into a frenzy of care for everyone else and I fail to make the space and time to do the simple things that keep me sane and recharged. Like exercise, time to journal, meditate and pray, catch up with good friends.
  • Excessive behavior is not one I would have owned up to. But I find myself wasting the time I do not have by self medicating with social media, web surfing for a new handbag or too much TV and this leaves me feeling empty. Some people eat too much, indulge in sugar, alcohol or staying up late. The self -medicating thing looks different for everyone.

So I have arrived at the start of the school year, with plenty of my own work and academic deadlines looming and I am showing  signs of Burnout.  This week needs to be a little bit slow-er. I need to be kind to myself  and make a list of all the things I should not do.

Period

This will not be an in depth scientific account of the woman’s menstrual cycle and the period. It is just a little heads up that one of the things that has been distracting me a lot of late is female hormones. After five babies and a whole lot of living I am rediscovering the need to know my hormones and understand what is happening at this stage of life…..On the other hand I am reading things that will equip me to help my girls understand the period thing. And let me tell you there seems to be so much more information out there that you and I could easily chat about over a coffee.

So read this and take note that there will be future musings about the monthly spill, sharing about resources I find and helpful ways to handle tricky situations. Want to know what I am really talking about? Here are some Qs:

How do you help a teenage girl navigate her period on Outdoor Ed Camp?

Why do I feel so fabulous one week, I could take on the world and the next week I am unable to get out the door?

What do headaches, sugar, stress and sleep have to do with my period?

I hope I haven’t embarrassed you. Periods are normal and amazing things really. We just need to know what we need to know, when we need to know it. Period.

No Grey Area

It has been a week now, and the avalanche of social media hype surrounding the debut of the film 50 Shades of Grey seems to have subsided. Thank. God. No really.

The book has apparently little literary merit. It is chick lit at its worst. I say ‘apparently’ because I have not read it and have no desire to. I wrote about the book several times upon its release here and here.

The film on the other hand has piqued the interest of people who would not devote any respectable amount of time to reading the book, but a few short hours on the big screen seems to have been a different matter. But the verdicts have been mixed. Feminist have been vocal. There has been reports of the film being more about domestic, emotional and psychological abuse than erotica. And for those who have sat there, it has been confronting, funny, disappointing and tragic in the most absurd way. If you are interested in reading one such review you could start here and read Rosie Waterland’s review on Mamamia.

One of the things I find problematic is the positioning of a rich, good looking man – a protagonist that many a reader would ‘fall’ for – in such a role as Mr Grey. The reality is we are all easily seduced, by a word, a look, a gesture of kindness, a promise of love, romance, hope and fulfillment. This latest hurrah seems like a slightly more grown up (twisted and unchaste) version of the Twilight series that had girls swooning.

I have four girls. I don’t want them to enter adulthood thinking this pulp fiction is how women should behave and what they should aspire to. This is not about being progressive. This is about confronting what behaviour we should abhor and avoid. But when you are young, naive and “entering the world of men” as the sixteen von Trapp daughter sang in The Sound of Music sometimes there is not the wisdom and discernment there to protect you and save you from yourself.

There is no grey area when it comes to Mr Grey. Say no. It is a black and white issue. Really.

Anything You Want

Many women feel overwhelmed by making choices and starting something new. Taking a risk is too hard. Following you heart is something that over time stops happening.  Busyness and the 24/7 caring of small people, putting everyone’s needs before your own means that we are often unable to see what we need, when we need it most. But change is possible.

Today I am thankful for my man who helps me on this journey, encourages me, allows me to ‘talk’ until I understand what is going on in my world, who laughs with me, cries with me and is my best friend. Even though change is possible and I can make those adjustments and tweaks to me lifestyle, my character ad my heart…..the reality is that I need someone strong beside me. Someone who will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next day, still smiling on days that I am not.

This is the beginning of anything you want, any change or new direction or adventure. My encouragement to you is to choose someone to walk with you. And want to walk with them.

The Third Space

My first coffee after school drop off is more of a post mortem of the last 24 hours than a reset before the day begins. So much has usually happened in the hours before that I am need of a coffee and in need of some reflection time. But do I make the most of that transition?

I recently came across an idea that has challenged me. Dr Adam Fraser is an Australian who has developed the concept of the third space, using the transitions in life to find balance and happiness. He has a great 6 minute you tube clip that walks you through the basic premise of his idea. But I found the book, The Third Space a fabulous way of truly ascribing meaning to the idea and developing it further.

Life as we know it and observe it has reached unprecedented heights of crazy busy. And most of us are too overwhelmed to step of the treadmill. According to Fraser we find ourself in the first space. In order to move successfully from school drop off to work or job interview or visiting our sick elderly aunt, that is into the second space, we need to enter a third space. In that third space we are challenged to reflect on what went well on the first space, what story do I want to tell myself? We need to rest in the third space and actively try and rest, maybe for an hour or maybe for a moment. Finally, we need to reset my expectations and behaviour as I move into the second space. We have the opportunity to make sense of what went before and prepare ourself to show us in the next space, to do the next job well.

I am sure you are familiar with the parent who brings the stress and chaos of the work day with them as they enter the family home at night. Or you show up to yet another meeting reeling from the disappointment of the one before and cannot concentrate. Perhaps you allow the pressure of kid wrangling to dictate how you ‘love’ them for the rest of the day. If you are like me, you will fail at the transitions and frequently find yourself showing up badly for the next thing.

I have often written here about transitions. And I am aware of the way life takes us on a roller coaster of highs and lows. So it should be no surprise that someone has come up with a way of dealing with these transitions. The Third Space. Take a look at the you tube clip and read more about it.

I would love to know how women in particular deal with these ideas. Many would argue that women do well at multitasking. Does this mean the Third Space is more relevant to men? I think not. I am challenged to think about how I show up for the next thing. How do those of us who are juggling domestic life, family and work do that reflect, rest and reset thing? I would love to dialogue with you about this. Is there are third space for women?

Work Life Balance

In the last few weeks I have had several conversations with women who find the daily juggle of work and life overwhelming. Some women are too busy to recognise that they are not paying enough attention to their health, their partner, their children. Others are mindful of everything that they are not doing – they are not present with their kids, they are not physically available to help anyone. They have blinkers on, to do lists tattooed to their forehead and very little room for error. But I have experienced this first hand in recent weeks. Sickness, fatigue all conspire to push you over the edge and each ball comes tumbling down. Who thought of this juggling anyway?  

At the same time I know that control quickly, cunningly becomes our idol. We are more interested in staying in control than achieving any meaningful sense of balance. My ability to control ‘life’ is more important than how I love my husband, how I serve my kids, how I help my neighbour. If you cannot let go of all the balls you have in the air, for fear of failure or disappointment then you need to talk to a trusted friend. And this is me, right now, today. Too many balls and tight ropes. Most of which I have contrived to put in place. @#&%&!

Noone achieves  a work life balance. There is no such thing. We are called in this life to be all that we can be for His glory. One ball at a time. One day at a time. For He is in control.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

Decision Making

I think we all struggle with making decisions. Big ones. Life changing or semi life altering ones.

As a woman, wife, mother and well….you know I wear many hats, the ongoing question of work life balance is never too far away.

Work. Paid work. How do you know when it is  the right time to go back to work? When is it ok to move from casual to part time to full time? Why work at all? Don’t I have enough to do with 7mouths2feed? Is it not good to work hard to care for my family?

I am thinking about the grid, the framework that I test all of these ideas against. Who do I talk to? How do I think about this in a helpful manner? What is ultimately going to honour the priorities I aim to keep?

So…there is a wee job on the table. What is a girl to do?

The Slap: Women and Freedom

We have had a glorious day today taking our two youngest girls (real little people) to the zoo. When we lived in the city we were friends of the zoo and would take frequent, sometimes even weekly trips to the zoo. Occasionally we would actually go to seek out a special animal, other times we would go to play at the park with friends. The zoo was a central meeting place. No, more than a decade later it is a real novelty to go. With the hundreds of other holiday makers, mums and dads, grandparents all pulling toddlers and prams heaving with picnic food around the well trodden jungle paths. The occasional reluctant teenager is seen nearby to the aforementioned family, glued to the phone, texting madly and missing the spectacular performance of the elephant.

 But today as we ventured out I was struck again by the tribes of women I have left behind in the city. Where we live there are tribes, don’t get me wrong. Certain Western District types, women dressed in Bullrush clothing and Mummy Walnuts. But today I reckoned with a new crowd. The outer suburban Mum in plain Jane denim and loose top; the over dyed hair do of the nouveau riche, complete with big sunglasses and boots or the inner-city organic Mum in flared denim, some black (think short sleeve  Bonds t shirt over a long sleeve striped number), sensible Doc Martins or Birkenstocks completed with some oversized resin jewellery. I am aware that my local community lacks this aesthetic variety. Their fashion suggests something about the lifestyle, parenting, dreams and aspirations that the women in my home town rarely see. I sometimes long for more women with nose studs and artistic sensibilities to move into my home town. Freedom for people to be the woman God made each one of us to be….a bit like the animals at the zoo really. They are fabulous and it is such a spectacle to see them but they are not free.

This week’s promotional reviews and images for the ABC series The Slap, based on Christos Tsiolkas’ novel has depicted the very different urban women I talk about. I will be interested to see just how the series deals with women and difference. I felt Tsiolkas’ book had a strong male bias going on. Will the women there be free to be the women they were meant to be? If it is true to the novel I fear not. They will be caged by their own expectations and egos. I haven’t committed to watch the series yet because I know I have many friends who will do the viewing and post-mortem for me. Let’s wait and see.