Feeling better after burnout

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I had a rough start to this year, but am feeling much better and am trying to make changes to the way I do things to make sure I don’t get as run-down as I was in February.

Greatly encouraged by the Restore workshop, which was offered again this year by author Elizabeth Foss,  I’m trying to prioritise certain things better. (I hope it is run again next Lent and Easter, I think it isn’t certain, so if you check it out and it looks to you – ask her!).

Some things are going well. I eat fairly well, I cover several kilometres a week walking, and I’m better about making time to see or get in touch with friends and for prayer and mid-week Mass.

Over the last few years I keep re-learning in ever-greater depth that I need a LOT of down time to recharge, and am trying to make that happen. I’m trying to plan better. I know from experience that my family needs quite a detailed plan for the logistics of each week otherwise we all flounder. I will never be a planner, but I can always get a bit better for all our sakes – especially mine!

I’ve scheduled a night in our calendar each month for my husband and I get out for dinner and am re-thinking my whole approach to outsourcing household jobs (ie. from some things sometimes to the kids, to lots of things all the time to whoever will do it – at least for the next few months). Which means paying more for help, which we have tended to avoid. Which means I still have to work quite a bit, and I’ll have to do it more efficiently plus also ask for a lot more help overall so that I can have the time and mental and physical space to do creative work. So the circle goes…!

The one thing I think will be hardest to change is my bed time. I reckon I need eight hours of sleep a night, preferably nine, which is a lot. The children get settled in their rooms to sleep or read at around 8.30 during school term-time, but the three-year old usually isn’t tired by then if he’s had a nap during the day, and he usually does need one.

So he sits up beside me on the sofa while we watch a bit of TV or Netflixs and I sometimes try to knit. It’s hard to do either properly. It’s impossible to find something interesting to watch that doesn’t have some sudden loud music or action to jerk him from calm about-to-drift-off-ness to full wakefulness. And I don’t want him to see anything inappropriate for a three year-old, which rules out nearly everything except for football at the moment, which I can watch, but I’m not really into. I can’t talk too much to my husband either, because conversation clearly doesn’t signal ‘sleep time’ for him – he just wants to join in!

I can’t really knit more than a couple of stitches at a time when he wants to either hold one of my hands or a knitting needle, or the wool, to help him fall asleep.

By the time he falls asleep it’s 9.30 or so. I reckon that I need to be in bed around 10, but there’s no way that 30 minutes is enough time for me to have a wind-down cup of tea, do a few rows of knitting or some reading, or watch a show, and have a shower before going to bed. So I often don’t hit the pillow until nearly 11pm.

So I know that we need to wean him off his afternoon nap and get him into bed along with his older siblings. That will give me another whole hour for some simple self-care ritual at the end of the day and some semblance of quality time with my husband.

But not much in my day is sweeter than this little ritual that’s started: When this cheeky, chirpy, boundary-pushing, smart and funny little one suddenly decides to lie down with his head on my lap. He demands one of my hands, folds it into his warm little arms, stares with glazed eyes into my face and says softly, “I love you so SO much Mummy” about 4.5 seconds just before finally crashing out.

That is pretty cool.

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