A guest post by Dorothy.
As I drove home last night, alone, the headlights creating a yellow bubble in front of my car, I savoured the silence. Well, not an actual silence, as Wayne Dyer was sharing his wisdom via the iPod - it was more of an absence. An absence of complaining, bickering and electronic game noises.
I considered what I might do when I got home. In the empty house. All on my own.
It was a strange feeling. A feeling I hadn’t experienced since the previous school holidays.
A feeling of complete freedom from duty, obligation, noise and company.
Perhaps, being a sole parent, I burn out quicker than most. During this last week of term, I found myself longing for my bed, sneaking naps when I could, giving in to whingeing about game time and cooking two-minute noodles for dinner. I flinched at every noise, even the happy ones, my senses overwhelmed and raw.
Arriving home, I closed every blind, turned on the heating and the tap over the bath tub. I realised, that I hadn’t even had a bath here since we moved in. As the tub filled, I crumbled in some fragrant bubbly goodness, grabbed my book and towel and stepped in.
My body settled gratefully into the warm, hot pink, bubbly water. I let the heat infuse my muscles and bones.
I let go.
I listened to the silence.
The cats came to visit and wonder at the strange creature inhabiting the boys’ bath. Then they lost interest. And still, I just lay there, quietly, just breathing.
I contemplated how little time we give ourselves as mothers. We all know we should, we all know how important it is, we all …… just don’t do it. Quiet time becomes housework time, because computer time, becomes work time - if we work from home. How often do we really just let go? Just relax and breathe? Give ourselves permission to just be?
I know I’m not the only one that gets burnt out. Being “on call” 24/7 is emotionally exhausting. Children, as much as we love them, are emotional piranhas, as my psychologist, quite accurately, once told me. The more of yourself you give them, the more they want. Somehow we keep finding more and more, from unknown reserves. I am always amazed at the times that I don’t break, when I can find a calm voice and a solution to each drama as it unfolds.
I am astounded at the reserves other mums have. Mums with special needs children and those with their own health challenges. Mums who work outside the home and those who work from home. Mums who look after large families and mums who home school. Some thrive and some struggle. Some know exactly how to replenish their reserves before burning out and others wait until they break.
After my bath, I went to bed and read for a couple of hours. Then I slept. Even after ten hours’ sleep, I woke up tired and with a migraine. When I’m this close to burn out, my body just stops.
I threw my plans for the day out the window and did as my body told me. I sat in the sun with a coffee and took photos of sunlight sparkling in the gum trees.
I was thankful that I could. This week of rest needs to be just that, a week of rest.
What about you? How do you replenish your reserves to prevent burn out?
Dorothy has been blogging for over four years at Singular Insanity. She blogs to keep herself sane, more or less, writing about sole parenting, mental health and blogging. A sole parent of two boys, Dorothy is also a freelance writer, thinker and chronic furniture re-arranger. She is also known as Motivating Mum Ballarat.