I Am Burnt Out… With Parenting

I am burnt out.

I’ve hit a wall.

The day in and day out of sameness with parenting without in-person school, kids’ activities or camp is becoming almost impossible.

There. I said it.

I love my kids. Why do us moms feel like we need to say that as a disclaimer when we need to be real for a minute that it is not always laughter and happiness? It goes without saying.

Of course I love my kids.

In fact, as dark as it sounds and probably a bit messed up, anytime my kids question my love, usually when I asked them to go get their own snack or have said no to an unreasonable request, I say “come on, I love you hit by a bus level.” They know that means without a second thought I’d push them out of the way from a bus and take the hit for them. That’s a mother’s love. Effed up or not.

With the disclaimer out of the way now… I am burnt out in the parenting department. Like, I don’t feel like talking to my children right now.

I live in Ontario Canada and we are heading into our last week of virtual school next week… and then home free. You bet your ass I have signed my kids up for camp (which is allowed now). In fact, I just added another week for the first week of summer. So in my mind means I only have a week and a half left in pandemic isolation hell.

Sorry if I am being super blunt here, but it has to be said and I bet I am not the only one feeling like this. I am not burnt out with working out, or unpacking our new house, or working, or gardening, or talking to adults.

It’s the making meals and snacks, cleaning up the kitchen, breaking up fights, finding something to do, arguing about getting schoolwork done, asking for messes to be cleaned up. It’s the daily arguements about getting dressed, brushing teeth, brushing hair and showering even though there’s nowhere to go.

There’s nowhere to go.

But above all… its the constant talking.

Which sounds bad saying it out loud. But as an introvert I need quiet time to recharge. Which I don’t get.

Cue perfect timing; I kid you not, as I wrote the last sentence one of my kids was talking to me and I was staring right as them as I was typing with one airpod in (because music takes the edge off) and then she said, “mom, did you hear what I said?” Honestly, I didn’t retain a thing. My brain is at full capacity.

The other night three out of four of my kids confronted me pretty much telling me that I have been emotionally unavailable to them. It was like a punch in the gut.

It brought me to tears.

The next day I shared this with another solo parent and I got the pep talk I needed. It’s a pandemic, I am doing more now for them than humanly possible, and they need to recognize that and I need to know that in a couple weeks when the pressure valve is finally released that they will get a whole version of me again.

For now, scraps of me is going to have to be enough.

So, parents… if you are burnt out in the parenting department too, and you are robotically replying with blanks stares and “that’s nice” you are absolutely not alone.

Scraps are more than enough after the storm we have sailed our families through this past year. We made it to the other side and never sank.

That’s a win.

Take the win.

How Are You? You’ve Been On My Mind.

I’ve been getting a lot of texts and messages from friends lately asking me how I am. You see, where I live in Southern Ontario my kids have been moved from in-person to virtual school and as of yesterday my province went into a Stay-At-Home order, complete with a loud, unexpected and jarring Emergency Alert on my phone from the government yesterday.

It’s meant a lot, people checking in. It has taken me a second to realize that people are thinking of me because of my circumstance, a solo parent with four kids. It’s not like I have been having any kind of public meltdown on social media to worry them.

So, I asked myself…. how am I? I am writing this post on Friday January 15th. Today I am good. I feel solid. I have created a routine, lowered my own expectations and have been loading on self-care. But on Tuesday January 5th I was not okay. I was totally overwhelmed.

So I began waking up super early to fit even more into my day.

Parents, doesn’t it feel like we are being asked to be superhuman? We are asking to be spread thinner and thinner. I’m like a very dry piece of toast right now.

All of those statistics of women having to take a step back in their careers is really becoming a reality for me. But as a solo parent I cannot just stop. I also can’t drop my self-care (workouts, hot baths, pulling myself together) because I tried that one and had zero patience for anyone.

I can’t just leave my kids to do school completely solo… tried that one too and I quickly realized that two six-year-olds need me right at their side during virtual school. Luckily they have an extremely understanding teacher who lets them take lots of breaks and knows I am helping them get through the work and take big steps away from their screens while the teacher spends most of her time walking half the class through the technology because the reality is, most parents do not have the job flexibility I do to sit their with their child.

What about my two big kids? They have totally amazed me with how engaged and self sufficient they are the entire day with their online school. In fact, I basically don’t see them all day. BUT, the evening comes and they both spiral. The screen time, isolation and being cut off from their friends rears its ugly head and they need me. All of me. This one by the way is next week’s problem to solve… I’m thinking after school outdoor walks reading after dinner and early bedtime routines with more structure. This one will definitely come with pushback from my two pre-teens. But I’m the parent and they need this.

These are just the biggest things, the balls I am juggling that are made of glass. That cannot break. There are 50 other balls that are in the air. Some others are glass, most are plastic.

I am juggling, constantly.

Right now I’d say I’m swimming. Not drowning, not just trying to keep my head above water, or even treading water.

I am swimming.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my hell zone moments everyday. You know, those moments where you are going along fairly well and BOOM… you’re hit with this strong feeling of depression and it all washes over you…

When was the last time I was able to hug my parents? Will we get sick? I miss going out. I miss my friends. I’m worried about my kids. Will this isolation impact them long-term? If I get in a car accident can my local hospital take care of me properly, or is it too overwhelmed? Will my friends that own brick and mortar businesses lose everything? I feel claustrophobic.

Those moments.

Luckily something I learned from the first wave is that these hell zone moments are common for a lot of people and they are just that, moments. In those moments I acknowledge my feelings, I validate them and remind myself that these are big, real, normal feelings.

I don’t fight it.

I let the wave wash over me. Then if I can I step away from whatever I’m doing and switch it up. The moment moves on and I begin swimming again.

After talking to my friends, (funny enough the ones who have been checking in on me), I’ve realized just how good I have it. I have friends whose houses are mid-renovation and they are trying to do virtual school with the constant sound of a nail gun in the background.

I have friends who are full-on extroverts (I am not. I am an ambivert and homebody) and they are not built for this. They are not able to spread their wings right now and I cannot imagine what that must feel like.

So, how am I?

Today I am swimming.

How are you?