I headed out the door, still groggy from waking up at 4 am. As I stepped out into the cool morning air I felt a warmth inside, so strong it was almost tangible, and so opposite of the burnout I had felt the day before. I had just walked through the house and kissed the squishy cheek of each of my sleeping children which brought so much love and gratitude for my precious babies. During my drive alone to the airport my heart and mind were flooded with memories of the many sweet times I had kissed their cheeks before. So many wonderful, sweet, and loving memories filled me as I flew away for the weekend, alone, to do something for myself.
Too Close For Clarity
A few months ago my uncle taught a great object lesson to my kids. He used a picture and zoomed in really close (similar to this).
He then asked my kids what they thought the picture was. There were guesses like; ballerina (that would have been my 3 year old daughter’s answer), dog, wolf, cat, monkey, porcupine, etc. but nobody was really SURE what it was. The perspective we were given was not enough to really see clearly what the picture was, in other words, we were too close to see clearly.
I remember clearly a time in my own life where I was too close to everything in my life. I had a close up view of all my problems, weaknesses, and frustrations. During that time I had recently quit my full-time job to be a stay-at-home mom to my three children. I had started with a vision of laughing, loving, and spending time with my kids. While we were certainly together day and night, all day every day, there wasn’t as much laughter and love as I envisioned. My kids fought, made messes, and whined a lot. I couldn’t keep up with the laundry or the housework, nor could I keep the kids happy, and I felt like a failure. Every day I had a close up picture of all the places I was failing (or so I felt). It was a hard time in my life and it remained that way until I discovered what I needed.
A Different Perspective
In my uncle’s lesson, he then showed the same image but from a different perspective, a perspective that gave them a better view of the full picture. After showing this picture, the kids had no problem identifying what the image was. It was very clear that the picture was a cat, and they could even take a look at the first image and see which part it came from.
So what is the key to avoiding mommy burnout? It lies in taking a step back to gain a different perspective. The moment I started to take a step back, leave the house for a few hours once a week and go do something by myself, things started to change. During that time by myself I became less frustrated with the tantrums that were thrown that day, I didn’t find the pile of laundry so daunting, and my anxiety over all those things that seemed so frustrating at home was minimized. As I took a step back, I could see that those things weren’t as much of a problem as they first seemed. My mind and heart were able to take a break and adjust my focus to those things that mattered most; the love I have for those squishy cheeked kids.
Practice What You Preach
So, this past weekend as I spent time away from my family I took the time to see my life from a different perspective. Before leaving, my heart was weighed down by the trouble of our new Kindergarten routine, and how difficult it was for me to face the reality of my son’s struggles. As I flew across the state, staring down onto the beautiful scenery below, I was reminded of how small these moments are. My problems and worries weren’t as daunting, the load of the anxiety was lifted, and I was able to feel peace. Once the peace settled into my mind, I started thinking of ways to help my son, I started smiling to myself as I looked through pictures we had recently taken as a family, and I was reminded of how much I love my life. I no longer feel anxious or burdened by my roles and responsibilities as a mom. I came back with a different perspective, and it is beautiful.
So, when life starts to get me down, when the weight of all the mundane tasks start to weigh on my heart I know I need to back up, and look at it from a different perspective. Weekend getaways are sure fun, but they happen too rarely for me to rely on those. I find moments of clarity when I take an hour to go to the gym (putting my kids in the gym childcare), take myself out to dinner during the week when my husband can be home with the kids, or when I hire a babysitter so I can go for a walk or a hike by myself. The time away, no matter how short it may be, is when I am able to take a step back, push my worries a bit farther from my mind and regain the perspective of the most important things in life. For me, all I need are those sweet squishy cheeks.