Tag Archives: burn out

6 ways to help you bounce back when you are worn out

Over the last few weeks I have recognised that I am getting worn out.  Again.  (This may be the reason for my more thought provoking posts recently, now that I come to think of it!)  Between caring for my children, dealing with the mountains of paperwork that seem to accompany every decision about my son, and my income, and trying to be business like about my ‘business’, things have started to slip.  And, as I said in my post yesterday, it is important to be kind to yourself.

How do you bounce back when you are worn out?

Some of the things that I have found that work include:

1. Keep things simple.  Cancel those social appointments that you are dreading, don’t schedule any complex arrangements, and just focus on the basics.  Looking after you and yours is more important than obligations to friends.  Good friends will understand that this is temporary and that you will be back on deck soon.

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2. Eat healthy food.  Instead of reaching for the easy peanut butter sandwich, or cheese and crackers, take a few extra minutes to eat some fresh food – a salad sandwich, a fruit platter, or even just grab a banana instead of something processed and sugary.

3. Exercise.  I know – the last thing you want to do when you are tired and worn out is to exercise.  I am not talking about a full cardio work out followed by a boxing class (although if that is your thing go for it!).  I find that even just taking a walk around the block is often enough to get things moving again, to lift your energy levels and your spirits.  Doing a bit more active exercise helps even more!M O V E

4. Rest.  Actually stop, put your feet up, and rest.  Not work on your laptop or tablet.  Rest.  Maybe read a novel, listen to some music, or just be at peace for a few minutes.  My personal favourite?  Lying in a hammock. (Note to self.  Spring is here.  Set the hammock up.  Soon!)

5. Let go of some of your responsibilities.  This is the hardest one for me.  I love sewing, creating, designing, making.  I also love earning some income from it.  But it takes all my focus, and at the moment I need to give the children a bit more focus, so sewing has to take a back seat.  This is hard, but I know it isn’t forever – it may be for a day or two, or for a week or two, but it will all be there waiting for me when I have time and head-space to walk into my sewing room and pick up where I left off.

6. Do something different.  You might remember my favourite graphic from a post a couple of weeks ago.   5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made meI love this.  It reminds me that if we are in a rut, with tired children, whinging mother, etc, then in order for me to change that, I need to change something I am doing.  Ideas that have worked well in the past include a picnic dinner as a surprise, having a family movie night in the middle of the week, letting the kids build a fort and live in it for a day – even though they use a whole room and insist on keeping it there for days!

What helps you to bounce back when you are getting run down or worn out?

The whirling head

Arrrggghhhh….I have a head that is whirling with ideas and dreams and plans, but have lost the ability to translate it into action!  A house full of children all day, with their demands for food, water and time (such demanding little creatures they are) is sucking the ability to create out of me!  Throw in some hot weather, some unwelcome news on a different front, and a nice dash of burn out and hey presto – nothing is being made.

Well – that is not quite true.  Today I actually finished a bag that I started two weeks ago(!!).  But I have made more mistakes in this bag than any bag I have previously made – including forgetting to put one half of the magnetic snap in the bag before finishing it all up!  Then, after unpicking, inserting the snap, and resewing, I realised that it was not quite centred!  Doh!  Two things I just haven’t done before!  (A sign that I need to keep sticking to doing one thing at a time). I love the fabric in this bag, but after all the endless unpicking and restitching, and re-doing (because there were other errors too) I can’t bring myself to sell this one to a customer who is expecting good quality.  So it looks like I have a new bag for the new year!  Oh well – there needs to be a silver lining after so many mistakes!

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The good news is that I am loving my new sewing room.  I go and sit in there and it is like a little wave of calm flows over me.  It continues to be a great move, even if I am not actually making much in there.

And that means that I have been sitting in there to calmly work my way through my planning/thinking/dreaming workbooks.  I mentioned these in my last post.  A fellow creative friend put me onto the site run by Leonie Dawson who produces these wonderfully illustrated workbooks and calendars that you can buy as digital downloads for a very reasonable price. Given that I am a bit stuck at the moment ( you know – the whole burn out thing) and that I am pretty much allergic to planning (which is part of the reason that I tell you so often that I am doing it – partly to hold myself accountable and partly to desensitise myself to the concept) I was a little sceptical.  But I am a sucker for clear vibrant colours and messages of hope and inspiration and support.  So after reading testimonials, examining the site, and loving the illustrations, I decided that the risk was minimal and the colours were worth it.  (How superficial can one planning-avoider be?!)

I was just intending to buy the business workbook, but given that I have announced to you all quite emphatically that 2014 is my year, I bought the life workbook on a whim too.  I am working my way through the Biz workbook first (because I printed it first!) and have already had some lightbulb moments.  Some of them turned out to be blown lightbulbs when I re-examined them, but that doesn’t matter – I was thinking and reviewing and not breaking out in hives.

You start by a review of the past year.  Wow – I had lost track of how much I had done in the last year!  Then start on your goals, dreams, and plans for the new year.  Uh-huh.  Now we are talking.  While you might be able to do this with lots of different tools and planners, I am loving this one so far.  It has me thinking about what I need – not just what the business needs.  Powerful stuff being reminded to make time for yourself!  On that basis alone I am happy to recommend the products (which I don’t do that often).  Then of course there are the beautiful illustrations by Leonie.  I would be happy to just be surrounded by them all day!  So I have become an affiliate and put a link up on the side of my page so that if you want to buy them for yourself you can!  (I am also thinking of the meditation course she sells – I would love to go to a health spa and do it that way, but on my current budget think that an e-course might be a more realistic place to start!  I will let you know what I decide!)

I have talked before about how much I love lists – and this workbook involves making lists.  So in my next post, all going well I will share my ‘list’ with you – again working on that accountability thing!

The other thing I am doing is buying fabric!  Oops!  When I sat down and did an inventory of what I had I realised that I am actually in need of updating my stash, replacing some that are almost at an end, and embracing the new season’s fabrics.  What a task!   (Mwahahaha as my son would say!)  So online orders have been happening, and tomorrow we will hit Spotlight – which starts the new catalogue sale tomorrow and has goodies on sale that I need (because when it comes to fabric we always need, rather than want, don’t we?!)

In school holiday updates – the boy has beaten me in Uno, but lost to me in Carcassone in a close run game.  The two girls joined us for a game of Carcassone tonight with two add-ons (extra tiles and rules and pieces that you can add to the basic game) and it was hilarious.  I went all out and strategized my placement of pieces and for the first time it worked!  I cleaned up and won convincingly.  Yes – I know that it is sad that a grown woman is gloating about beating three children who are all under 11 – but they have been beating me in everything so it was time for a win for the oldie!

I hope that your week is going well and that your head isn’t whirling!  Remember – one day at a time.  (For me and for you!)

Answers to riddles

After the rather obscure references to burnt bits of meat in my last post’s heading, I thought I should clear up some other vagaries in this post!

For those of you who have been reading along over the last year, you might recall that I did my Right Brain business course last year and had all sorts of lightbulb moments that I promised to tell you about.  Then life, and my boy, got a bit chaotic, and all lightbulbs had to be tucked away for a while.  With a new year, and a lovely card (that ironically was in a gift from my ex-husband) stuck to my pin board to remind me that 2014 is my year, I have been dusting off the lightbulbs and adding to them.

The first lightbulb to share with you is that I love making bags.  I love playing with colours, textures and shapes and making those little pieces of art that people get to use.  No surprises there – but a really good reminder about what gives me that zing in my day.

The second lightbulb is that I love to share ideas, to pass on tips, and to help other people to find their creative niche and passion in life.  The first tiny step towards that is my monthly newsletter where I hope to share ideas, tips and links that I find so that you can explore creative ideas until you find ones that resonate with you.  (Heavens knows that making bags was a complete accident for me and now I can’t imagine not doing it!)

The second step in shining the light of that lightbulb on my world is that I am developing some kits so that you can make your own ‘things’ at home, and learn some skills along the way.  Of course there will be bag kits – with everything you need to make a funky, practical and personal bag for yourself.  But I will also be adding in some other kits so that you can make personalised things (like superhero capes) of your own.  I am so excited about this!  I am hoping to have my patterns with testers by early March, so stand by for updates!  (Those who know me understand that I often want to rush in and do everything at once, so the fact that I am doing this in stages is sensible but excruciating at the same time!)

Then last week I was teasing you with images of me walking around the house with wet bamboo fabric on my shoulders to test absorbancy and wicking.  The answer?  I accepted a commission from a lovely business owner to make some bibs for her shop.  She wanted bandana bibs with teething chews attached as she had customers asking for them regularly.  I brought my analytical brain out of hiding and looked at the problem from several different angles and decided that cotton tops, with bamboo/cotton French terry towelling as the lining would do the trick.  The style of a bandana bib is that the folds that naturally form then trap dribble, spills, etc.  Having the bamboo, with it’s super-absorbancy means that all that wetness gets held in the bib, rather than going straight through onto the baby’s clothes.  As for the teether being attached?  Well – I can now say that I have sewn plastic onto fabric (and remembered to change the needle before sewing cotton again)!  Then the question arose of how to close the bib.  Ah-ha!  My days as a mother using modern cloth nappies (diapers) came to the fore – plastic snaps with two snaps on one side makes the bib adjustable.  So I am now the proud owner of a press and die set to install the snaps.  (And we all know how much I love a gadget!)  The trial run of bibs is on its way to be photographed ready for listing at www.LittleBubbalish.com.au – who will sell them exclusively.  Another bit of excitement!  (And while a small deviation from my bag plans, is a great way to play with fabrics for small people that I don’t often get to use!)

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In reviewing my business plan from last year, and working on it a bit more I have been focussing on what is important to me at home, in my business and in my working life (you know – the job that pays the bills!)  I had a think about this blog.  You might have noticed that I have been blinging it up a bit over the last few weeks – creating the home page, adding some other tabs, putting up a shiny new header and tag line.  Hmmmm…..perhaps I got a bit too focussed on the ‘business’ aspect of it all, and forgot the stuff that I like doing – writing to you and talking about what is happening here in the nest.  You can expect a return to ‘normal programming’ soon!  (I am still undecided about the ‘home page’.  All feedback welcome!)

And finally – I have been planning.  Let me explain something first.  I am a list maker – I love to tick things off.  I used to be highly organised  (before I had children) but sitting down and developing plans just isn’t my forte.  So to be working through plans step by step is a little unusual for me.  But I have found a workbook that resonates with me (and will share more about it when I am finished) so am actually using it!  The point I am up to today is to list the things that I will do each day.  There are suggestions in the workbook, that are so simple and obvious and yet reading them gave me such clarity.  I haven’t yet finalised my list, but the ones that resonated (yes I am aware that I am using that word twice in one paragraph) with me were to step away from the computer, to spend 15 minutes each day decluttering a part of your house,  to allocate time for emails, etc.  So obvious, but such a good reminder!  There is also a challenge to reduce emails to 5 lines.  (Thank goodness it wasn’t to reduce blog posts to 5 lines – you know how verbose I am!)

While there hasn’t been a lot of sewing (apart from the bibs) happening, there has been a lot of mental activity going on.  I am struggling a bit with the constancy of children due to the school holidays but am trying to find time each day to just focus on being present with them.  It is harder than it sounds.  I am so burnt out from the emotional demands of the last couple of years that dealing with their demands all day means that I am retreating a bit in order to cope.  But a daily reminder to myself is keeping me from falling away too far.  A three day Monopoly game with the boy was hilarious – even when I finally managed to bankrupt him.  The middle chick thought she would make meringues using a recipe from her Science book.  It was an experiment in more ways than one – the electric hand held mixer I received for my 21st birthday died in a puff of smoke and the smell of burning sugar and rubber.  The eldest chick is doing her own version of planning.  She is writing, cutting, sticking and writing some more.  I think she is making lists to try and help her make sense of the transition we are all going through.  Or maybe she is just her mother’s daughter.

Ah look – another long rambling post from me.  If you are still here – thank you.  I hope that your week allows you time to be present with the people who are important to you.

Why I am going to stop eating the burnt chop

As a mother I have always put my children first.  It is what I thought all mothers did, and in fact all parents did.  I didn’t see it as a sacrifice, I simply saw it as the natural order.  It wasn’t conscious, it was automatic.  I heard the stories about burnt chop syndrome (a very Australian phrase that signifies mothers eating the food that isn’t perfect while serving up the good, perfectly cooked food to their children and partner – worth googling) and just chuckled knowingly, because of course I eat the burnt chop.  That is what mothers do.  Right?

Well, no more.  I have become so good at putting my children first, at being a ‘good mother’, at making every decision in my life (career, marriage, finances, food, sleep, car, exercise, holidays….) based on what is best for my children, that along the way I seem to have lost the ability to look after what is best for me.

Well meaning friends and acquaintances have counselled me for years that I do too much, and that I need time for myself.  For a while I had a taste of that time.  After my husband left and when the children would go to his house for one or two nights a week I had what I felt was a huge luxury of time and space.  I would read books, listen to music, arrange to catch up with friends in trendy bars and restaurants, where ‘mummies’ like us didn’t normally go.

But then he left the country and I had the children 24/7 for a few years.  And I was working full time in a high pressured position.  My son started school and started to exhibit all sorts of troubling behaviour like running away.  Daily.  My girls were missing their father and couldn’t understand why he had chosen to leave them.  (Heartbreaking stuff.)  And I was trying to keep the wheels on the wagon, to be the best mother they could have to make up for the father they didn’t have, to be really good at my job so that I could advance and earn more money to pay for the things that they would have had if they had two parents living together, to keep them feeling secure, loved, and yet let them be independent.

I stopped reading books.  Didn’t listen to music at home.  Didn’t go out.  Anywhere.

I kept pedalling as hard as I could to hold down a job, to leave work to rush to the school to help locate or calm my son, then return to the meeting I had fled and assure everyone that everything was okay and continue on, being as professional as possible.

I can’t write more detail about just how hard it all got because it is too upsetting.  I felt I had no choice (and I really didn’t have many choices) but to keep going and putting my children first.

Until there was almost nothing left of me.  Luckily I have people who care about me who recognised what was happening and gave me the right support to see that if I didn’t make some changes there would be nothing left of me.

This year I am putting myself first and doing what I need, to look after myself.  I deserve to be healthy, to be happy, and to be fulfilled.  And my children deserve a mother who is more than just surviving.  Today marks the day that I say no to the burnt chop.  I am going to build a life that nourishes me, and fulfils me.  I am going to stop being the selfless martyr.  And after all these years of being told that I am a ‘good mother’ I am going  to choose to be a more selfish mother, so that I can in fact start to be the great mother that my children deserve.

I am now stepping down from my soap box and heading to the kitchen to eat the single serve dessert that came with our takeaway pizza order tonight (our first in 5 years but the heat has driven me out of the kitchen!) that I am not sharing with my children.

Have a great weekend and remember that refusing to eat the burnt chop is not a bad thing!

 

 

Keeping it simple

A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.

Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.

The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)

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I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.

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I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.

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(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game!  Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)

The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)

My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.

With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year.  The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels.  I might have to make some more!!

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I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family.  This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt.  As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.

I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.