At some point in your life you look back at all the things your mom had to go through with you and probably your siblings and wonder, how in the world she managed. Being a Mom is one of the best things in the world but soon you realize that things move a little faster than what you are prepared to handle. You get to a point where you feel burnt out and are spiraling into a much stressed out situation.
This week I have been wondering if my mom ever felt burnt out. She never seemed to miss a beat. She took care of me and my siblings, the house, my Dad, went to work (she was a Nurse at one of the leading hospitals in Nairobi) and still managed to hang out with family and her friends. She now tells me that burnout was for her a constant challenge but she taught herself how to manage it. I know you’re thinking to yourself, how did she pull it off and the answer may lie in a few simple rules she followed. Though times have changed, the core concepts are targeted around taking care of oneself.
Yeah I know, we’ve heard this one many times before and that’s why I know we take it for granted. Let’s start with bedtime. I work all day and the only time I can catch up with my favorite shows is at night when my daughter Naeemah is asleep. Well, Mom says I’m to ditch my late night TV shows. This may be a little tricky especially now with Empire’s season conclusion coming out soon! I would love to see what Cookie and Naomi Campbell (can’t remember her character’s name) are up! Mom and proven research however say that nothing will kill a good mind like the lack of sleep… 🙁
I know for a fact that as moms we rarely have an exercise schedule and if there is one, we hardly ever stick to it. My Mom is a retired nurse and I remember her being very active when we were young. She believed then and still does now that one’s health is the key to one’s wellbeing. If you want to live to see your grandbabies, find time to exercise. For me, my excuse for then lack of activity has always been that I have no time. I however recently learnt of a few in-house exercise programs that run for a duration of 30minutes. Yap thirty! T25 actually runs for only 25 minutes!! That’s the duration of an episode of Modern Family. Unlike Modern Family however, when I’m done with Shaun T’s 25mins, I’m dripping sweat and my endorphins are pumping.
- Right Diet:
As we were growing up, many of the heavily processed foods we currently ‘enjoy’ were unavailable. Mom cooked fresh dinner every day and foods like ndumas and ngwaces were part of our staple diet. Chips and sausage were considered a luxury and only consumed on Sundays and on very special occasions. Today processed foods are what many of us rely on. Their yummy tastes, easy storage and extended shelf life are a few of the reasons we prefer their convenience. They unfortunately provide little nutritional value and instead leading to the many cases of obesity we see.
Since I had her (Naeemah) my focus has been directed at ensuring that she receives the very best of everything I can provide. Problem is I forgot about myself in this equation. A couple of weeks back, during a weightloss consultation, one the questions the Consultant asked me was how much water I consume daily and I realized then I hadn’t actually had any that day! At the end of the consultation she revealed my health stats and I realized then that I needed attention. I used to take care of me but somewhere along the line I forgot myself. I made a resolution then and there to take care of me. My Dietitian Alice Ojwang always says “if you can’t make time to exercise be ready to make time for illness and use all your hard earned money to pay your medical bills”.
- Take time off.
Again, another no-brainer that you probably haven’t been serious about it. When was the last time you took a day off? I mean took a whole day to yourself where you weren’t working or taking care of the kids. Many of us work 9-5 jobs, Monday to Friday (some of us even work weekends). Our free time is spent with the kids. When we resume work on Monday we are more tired than we were when the weekend began! Whatever it takes, give yourself time off. Apply for a leave day and spend the day with yourself. Now work or kids. Just you.
Mama Mungai and I work at the Daycare Monday to Friday. With the business being so young, we on some occasions work 12hr long shifts a day. When Saturday comes, we are totally exhausted! Don’t get me wrong, dealing with your angels is a joy to us but to ensure we give them the attention they deserve, we need a break. What we therefore do on Saturdays is take our own kids (Mumbua and Naeemah) to the Daycare and give ourselves that much needed break to shop, pamper ourselves, read, hike, visit friends, watch Empire 🙂 or just spend the day sleeping. We find that this little time gives us the energy we need. A few parents also bring their kids to the Daycare and they get to spend their day doing their own things. The best part about our Saturday Daycare arrangement is that the kids are well taken care of and they get to maintain their daily routines (naptime, eating etc).
Our staff also experience burnout. To beat this, we came up with a shipt sytem that works all round. They system gives them time away from the Daycare to spend at their own leisure. We find that this really rejuvenates them and they resume when they are more focused.
- Take care of your relationships and marriage
When the kids come, many relationships tend to suffer. As we grow into parenthood, relationships and time start to run parallel with each other. Husbands, best friends, sisters, girlfriends etc all seem to get forgotten. Keeping these relationships healthy is important in overcoming the hurdles of being a parent. For the husband for instance, having a date night is important as it that means you get to interact and engage with each other. Remember, before the kids came it was just the two of you. When the kids leave many years later, it’ll be two you again. Will you then be strangers to each other?
Date night can also be with any other relationship you have. Set a date with your girlfriends, your mum, your best friend etc and go out and enjoy each other’s company. For as long as proper care has been sought for the kids, they’ll be fine. IDEA: Bring them to Cradles and Crayons Daycare and enjoy some peace of mind… 😉
For me, what works with regards to my family is a day out with my mom and sister. It keeps them close to me and it serves as a reference point in my relationship with them.
- Keep it simple
Some people function well in the complexity of their daily schedules. I, unfortunately, am not one of those. I prefer things simple. I am a mom and I run a Daycare and I love it! Unless completely unavoidable, I try to avoid multitasking. Some studies have shown it is not effective nor is it efficient for our brains. What I find works brilliantly for me is at the beginning of each day, I write down the tasks I would like to accomplish during that day and work towards doing so. With the unpredictability of my job and being a Mom however, on some days I may only manage to accomplish one task on others, many more.
Finally, do some meditation to calm your mind. During the day, your brain is firing off millions of impulses to keep you going, can you imagine what happens when you don’t let the brain cool down for a few minutes? Some people choose to meditate through prayer and others prefer sitting in a quiet room for a few minutes each day. Either way, make this deliberate attempt to shut down your brain during the day. Naptime here at the Daycare is one of my meditation times.
Don’t worry about burnout if it gets you. You become better at managing it as time goes by. These are my Mom’s tips and I’m proud to say I now follow them. Burnout is now becoming a thing of the past and I revel in the fact that I now get to play a significant role in the life of someone who will grow to be remarkable in the future… 🙂
If you may have more tips to add, do share them with us. Feel free to do so by leaving a comment.