Hello lovely friends! It’s 4am on a Monday morning and I WENT OUT LAST NIGHT. ALONE. It was thrilling. I went to have dinner with good friends and talk about their wedding invite (which I’m so lucky to get to do — in whichever way I want!) and drink wine into the wee hours of 9:30pm. Incredible.
Besides good company, killer roast beef, and the unveiling of an insanely gorgeous (and famous) painting that will one day hang in our living room, a highlight of the evening was the few errands I had to do first in the Mile End / Plateau area. It was a crisp, snowy late afternoon and I had forgotten how amazing it feels to walk without a stroller. I hadn’t done that in 100 years. (One of my main parenting annoyances are strollers. Hate.)
I turned 36 a couple of weeks ago and so far, 36 (or 2013 in general) was pretty crappy for me. Sickness after sickness in our house (not done yet! I’m almost out of the woods but Lenny has Roseola. God.), a terribly timed trip to Toronto, sans hubby, that left me pretty ragged and may have scared me off of travel for life, and a huge shift in my needs in terms of time commitment to my family and work = maybe a little bit of a nervous breakdown? Extreme Mom Burnout? It was a little bit of a pity party that had me scowling, yelling at Flo, and cursing my boring life in general.
Something had to change. Specifically:
- I needed backup childcare in a big way. Moon and Sparrow got some great press recently (Check Babyccinno’s great write up here and Kid Crave’s write up of the Best Friend Bear here!) and the orders were coming in fast
- I needed to start taking some of my personal time back to draw, write, and sit on my ass and stare out the window in silence
- I needed to start hanging out with my husband again. Without our “little buddies”
- I needed to start calling on the support network around me for help. We don’t live near family, and that means I can’t be shy about telling my friends and neighbours here when I need help or company
- I needed to learn how to communicate with my 3 year old so that we weren’t fighting
- The family needed a sleep schedule overhaul
The husband man was working on a big (and pretty exciting) project during the weeks that a lot of this was happening and it added to my feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to be working on awesome creative stuff! I wanted to go to a studio everyday and work with creative people! I wanted to do what he got to do! (Not the part where he actually has to bust his ass after not having slept, skipping meals, and then coming home to get the stink eye from the grouchy wife. The other, fun stuff!) I felt alone and shut in.
The more I talk about this though, the more and more I see that there is this common feeling of overwhelm and isolation with mothers of young children. It’s something I was pondering recently while cradling a feverish baby and watching this awesome Ted Talks by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman (founders of Babble.com).
In this discussion about Parenting Taboos these guys talk about how isolating it can be to have young children, and how it was something that nobody ever talks about to new parents-to-be. One of their theories is because nobody wants to say that to somebody who is about to have their first child. I think it’s cause we actually don’t realize it, even while it’s happening. We just know that it can feel overwhelming and inhumanely exhausting, but we don’t realize that it’s because we are often very alone as new parents, doing too much.
So, for myself and our family;
- I’ve started knocking on the doors of my neighbours – there are lots of great people who are home in the day, like me, and who are happy to help out. Even to pick up Flo from a half a block away, when it seems too much. I’ve scheduled coffee dates, dinner dates and play dates, even though the term “play date” makes me die a little bit inside.
- I’ve booked sitters for dates with my man! It’s the … 8th? 9th? anniversary of when we started going out on Feb. 15th and as good a reason as any to celebrate our awesomeness together
- I’ve bought The Happiest Toddler on the Block to help learn how to curb the arguing with Flo that was really upsetting me (there is some great stuff in this book) One week fight free!
- I’ve got Flo back in daycare — part time for now, which is already a huge relief in work load for me
Also; I went for a ONE AND A HALF HOUR Swedish massage. I’m on antibiotics. The kids are going to bed earlier. Things are going to be okay.
How do you handle Extreme Parent Burnout? I’d love to hear from people with similar experience.