Sunday 23 July 2017

Take it easy: How to avoid a burnout

Maebh Coyle

Keep re-aligning your needs

You may have a demanding relative, a stroppy teenager or a stressed partner to deal with at home, but try to bring your needs to the top of the pile every so often. It may not come naturally, but try to be selfish sometimes.

Your needs are equally as important as anyone else's in the family. Try to write them down, whether it be time for exercise, time to read or half-an-hour to just relax in a bath. You need it, so take it.

Let something slide

Midwives often say that when they visit new mothers with very tidy houses, it is cause for concern. Relax the standards. Your child refuses to change out of a scruffy tracksuit for a party you are bringing him to but does it really matter?

You haven't organised many play-dates for your seven-year-old daughter during the year but she has plenty of friends and has no problems socialising, so why worry? There is lots of time for play-dates next year, if you feel that she would benefit from them.

Take 'worthwhile' out of It

Reframe what quality time means to you -- it doesn't always have to have a purpose, such as toning up your thighs, or improving your children's reading skills. It could just mean relaxing while reading a book.

What makes you tick (or made you tick before you had children)? Is it a walk on the beach or a shopping trip to town? Whatever it is, include it in your day and stop feeling guilty -- you deserve to do something just for pleasure's sake.

Praise yourself

Not many people will tell you that you're doing a great job being a parent. Don't look to others for praise; find it from within instead.

So maybe you don't put enough time into practising reading with your child compared to another mum you know, or perhaps you haven't managed to convince your little ones to eat any green vegetables. But you do know that your children feel very loved, and you often make time to have fun with them.

You can't be everything -- just take the good bits and tell yourself you are doing a great job because if your children are happy and well adjusted, then you are!

Set limits

According to Anne Dickson, the well-known assertiveness expert and author of 'A Woman in Your Own Right':

"This means calling a halt before you drop dead with exhaustion. Instead of waiting to the bitter end, you can look at ways in which you can ask for help, for support and for care from others.

"Give yourself the time to rest, to replenish your energy. You can allow yourself to be vulnerable like everyone else."

Find a relaxed role model

It used to be that woman with the spotless house, but look around you for other role models -- mothers who are really happy and relaxed.

She may have mad hair and be carrying an extra few pounds, or she may not be as ambitious as you but look closer -- she smiles a lot, she almost always seems at ease and she doesn't apologise for anything.

Her home may be slightly messy but she doesn't care. She's the one who doesn't get sick, or rundown or resentful because she's not trying to be perfect and she has no problem asking for help if she needs it.

Be aware of people pleasing

Don't just do something because it will keep someone happy -- what suits you and your family? Are you trying to keep your husband happy by cooking different dinners every night?

Tell him that you need a break from cooking and ask if he can take it over for a while.

You don't always have to deliver -- take a break and let someone else be in charge for a change.

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