I had been searching Pinterest for toy storage ideas, scouring Facebook marketplace for some kind of savvy solution, and sorting the freaking Playmobil on repeat, only to find Santa’s Workshop mixed in with the Princess Castle. Again.
You know those moments when you react with just a little too much oomph?? Where your behaviour doesn’t really match the situation?
Yeah. I did that on Saturday.
My husband and I were getting ready for a nice little couples’ at-home workout in the basement. The kids (four and six years old) were playing in the playroom beside us, when my husband asked them to tidy up and “put all the Playmobil in the proper bins.”
It sounds like a harmless request, right?
He was trying to be helpful. After all, we’re teaching them to clean up after themselves.
But “proper” bins???? I could feel my frustration starting to boil until I snapped…
“What proper bins? We don’t HAVE proper bins? There’s no system! How could you ask THEM to do that?? We can’t even do that! It’s such a mess, and WE couldn’t even organize this chaos, let alone expect them to figure it out! And are you JUST NOW realizing this is an issue? Like, have you not thought about that before??…. “
It was such an innocent comment. He was just trying to help. But I couldn’t stop…
He put his hands up as if to say “whoa, back off lady!” But his seemingly-sudden awareness of an issue that I was stewing about for weeks (maybe months) triggered me and amplified my sense of overwhelm. I had been searching Pinterest for toy storage ideas, scouring Facebook marketplace for some kind of savvy solution, and sorting the freaking Playmobil on repeat, only to find Santa’s Workshop mixed in with the Princess Castle. Again.… (A total crisis, you know??)
And really, if only the “proper bins” was enough to pull me out of the pandemic-driven burnout that so many parents are stuck in right now, we’d be in pretty good shape. But I know it’s not that simple.
You know when you flip your lid from something like a messy playroom, that it’s not really about the playroom, right?
It was about burnout.
Like I was running off fumes.
And the energy it took to solve the seemingly unsolvable playroom problem tipped me over the edge that I had been walking just a little too close to for a little too long.
It was like I wanted to flip out… part of me wanted to make a scene, let the frustration out, indulge myself.
And I did. But I took it out on him. And it didn’t feel good.
So now it’s Monday morning, the kids are still asleep, and my husband’s working downstairs in his makeshift home office.
And I’m sitting here sipping a neglected cold coffee, realizing that I’m probably not the only mom who flipped out over something trivial this weekend… The way that I feel in this moment connects me to so many other moms—to you perhaps.
We connect in our suffering, in our vulnerability.
There’s a little comfort in that, don’t you think?
That in this moment, even if you feel like you’ve got nothing left in the tank, you’re experiencing a collective feeling of motherhood during this unprecedented time. It’s not about you or your shortcomings. It’s not your fault you feel this way.
But how do you move through it?
Here’s what I think:
The answer to burnout isn’t the one-off bubble bath, the girls night out, or indulging in that extra glass of wine.
It’s about taking a look at all that’s on your plate, being brave enough to consider letting some of it go, and finding your worthiness even when things feel like they’re falling apart.
Because some things will fall apart, but that’s not your fault.
It’s about saying no rather than powering through…
Asking for help rather than silently suffering…
And most importantly, it’s about learning to detach your sense of self-worth from all those expectations that have been put upon you.
Your endless laundry pile doesn’t define you.
Your child’s public tantrum doesn’t define you.
The fact that you’re feeling fried and wanting time away from mom-life— that doesn’t define you either.
Here’s a something to think about:
What if you picked three expectations for yourself that you actually care about.. What would they be? During times of stress and burnout especially, you can’t expect to operate exactly as you do when everything else is going right.
We are still in a pandemic… you’re probably juggling WAY more than normal right now… so this is NOT normal, and something’s got to give.
So at the end of the day, what three things would make you feel as though you’ve done a good-enough job that day?
For me, they’d be:
- Being kind and compassionate to my family (most of the time).
- Being fully present with my kids for some parts of the day (notice how I didn’t say all the time?).
- Continuing to make progress with my work goals.
And when I remind myself of these core values, I realize that I actually don’t care that my house is a little messy, that the front yard has a few too many weeds, that I let the kids watch two movies yesterday (everyone needs a little Netflix binge sometimes, right?). You know what? I don’t actually care that the Playmobil situation is a total clusterf*** either 😬
Those things do not change my worthiness. And my job is not to meet the billions of expectations that society placed on me when I became a mom. Neither is yours.
My job (and yours) is to figure out what I care about MOST… and pursue that, letting all the other chatter fade away.
I’d love to hear one expectation that made your list! Let me know in the comments below!