If you are going through stay at home mom burnout right now, this will help.
I was standing in front of a super hot stove top – stirring sauce that was nearly bubbling over – with my fussy 1 year old on my hip.
I’d tried to put him down numerous times so I could cook with leisure, but I couldn’t. He was teething and clingy and wanted mommy.
Truth be told, I love holding him because who doesn’t love squishy babies. But there was a lot to do and none of it could be done one-handed.
As I stood there in the kitchen with my baby on my hip, my stove top running over, and the other 4 kids doing some type of loud lion safari game nearby…
I had an epiphany.
All these years, months, and days I’ve been telling myself I need to get everything done on time, perfectly, and without breaking a sweat.
I never did, of course, and that left me feeling like a failure. Like I just didn’t have it all together. Like maybe, just maybe, if I made a few tweaks and bought a few gadgets then everything would miraculously look like Martha Stewart’s Vineyard house.
But that’s a lie. It’s a lie that we can do lots of things well all at the same time without dropping the ball.
In fact, the hard truth is this.
Being a mother is limiting.
There, I said it.
Somewhere along the way, we bought into the idea that we can be great moms, great homemakers, great volunteers, great workers, great friends, great wives, and great thinkers.
All at once.
We think that excelling (however we define that) in every area of life is the minimum standard. We can even manage to hold this idea together pre-motherhood because we are in control of most aspects of our life.
And then we have kids…
And kids are limiting.
They are little humans with great needs and the inability to meet those needs. For quite a few years, the main household objective is to meet the basic physical and emotional needs of our little ones.
And if we’re honest, this is limiting.
The amount of sleep I get is limited by my kids’ bad dreams and teething pain.
The types of foods I cook are limited to what my children are able and willing to eat.
How often I get alone time is limited by the family’s schedule and my husband’s willingness to let me get away.
Hobbies are limited by childcare, available funds, and whether I actually have enough energy after a day of Momming to do them.
Vacation options are limited because who wants to drag 5 kids (under 6) through the Met, the Louvre, or the Smithsonian?
The amount of work I get done is limited to how much time I’m willing and able to spend away from the kids.
You see where I’m going?
Limits are natural and good
While having my epiphany over the boiling stovetop… I actually felt relief.
Because there is a lot of pressure and stress that comes with thinking we can – and therefore should – do all things well.
There is relief, grace, and freedom knowing we have natural, realistic, and right limits to our time, resources, and capacity.
In fact, limits help us make good choices.
I am limited in my amount of leisure time so I will read a good book, not watch a stupid show.
I am limited in my work time so I will focus and not be distracted by social media.
I am limited in my cooking time so I will choose easy recipes.
I am limited in my ability to remain sane so I will say no to opportunities, events, or responsibilities that stretch me Past The Point.
I am limited in my willingness to constantly clean the house so I will get rid of unnecessary clutter and unused toys.
We don’t want to regret…
The reason embracing limits is so important is this: when we move at breakneck speed we are going to reach the end of the rope.
At the end of our rope comes crankiness, stress, anxiety, anger, yelling, weepiness, overwhelm, and depression.
If we don’t embrace our natural and seasonal limits we’ll make sure everything gets done Perfectly and Presentably, and have no energy left for the things that caused us limits in the first place.
Signs you haven’t embraced your limits:
- You feel resentful when your children are “needy.”
- You’re super stressed and strung out as a general rule.
- You feel like life is running you, not the other way around.
- There’s a deep desire for change, but you don’t know where to begin.
- You’re frequently looking for an escape (probably with your cell phone).
- You feel guilt and shame that you don’t measure up to your own (or anyone else’s) standards.
The good news is this…
You can take a long hard look at your own limits today and make a change. You can be honest with yourself and embrace your limits.
You already can’t do it all. Admitting the truth to yourself is like cold aloe vera on a sunburn.
It stings at first, but helps bring healing.
You are limited in your emotional, spiritual, and relational capacity.
Knowing this will help you choose to focus on the things that are most important and drop the rest of your unrealistic expectations and standards.
Just as limits are necessary with small children, they are necessary with us.
Limits highlight our priorities.
Limits guard our mental health.
Limits bring freedom.
Stirring My Sauce
As I stood there with my baby on my hip, stirring the spaghetti sauce, I felt instantly better. It’s okay if dinner isn’t gourmet, we’re eating on plastic plates, and the house isn’t “company ready” 24/7.
I have my limits.
5 of them, to be exact.
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