I just finished Dr. Sheryl Ziegler’s book Mommy Burnout and I feel like it deserves our attention. I also recommend you read it to help you get to a happier more fulfilling place in your life. I am always reading and listening to podcasts to help me to keep growing and learning every day.
In preparing for my Podcast interview with Dr. Ziegler, I had a fantastic time reading her book and listening to podcasts she has been on, along with her own podcast. I related to so much of what she shared in her interviews. She talked about her practice and how if her 3:00 appointment knew what her 4:00 appointment was about to share that they would feel so supported and understood. She felt like these women needed a support group. Better yet, she thinks that women need connection and best friendships. She said that this is the number one most important point that all of us women can learn to feel less burned out. We need friendships! If everyone had a best friend, the demand for therapy would go way down. Let’s dive more into this connection piece.
I want you to think about your weeks and how you connect with your friends. I see a lot of women talking on the phone. They are talking as they drive their cars and run their errands. They are talking as they walk their dogs down the street next to me. I see women talking on the phone everywhere and I give them so many kudos for taking the time to do that. However, how about the women who hide behind texts all day every day. How about the women who would rather send a text than to make a phone call or to meet in person? How about the women who say they are too tired to make time for their friends? Women who would rather connect on Social Media than in person. Women who couldn’t tell you who their best friend is. We all know that we have done these things! We are setting ourselves up to be more burned out.
I hear time and time again that women are lonely. When I had my first baby Max, I was home alone with him a lot. My mom would come over a lot, but it was winter, and I just stayed home with Max. I see how women can feel isolated and alone starting way back then. I decided to join a local mom’s club. I was home alone with him a lot and I needed to find people for both of us to be with. The mom’s club, Rolly Pollies, music classes, and time with my neighbors was fulfilling the need I had to be with people and find communities to be a part of. My Temple was also hosting a playgroup that I joined. We need to join things. We need people.
Joining my children’s nursery school board gave me such wonderful friendships and such a fantastic community of people. Moving on to Elementary school, I joined the PTA board and found such amazing connections to other women. I didn’t have a job to go to every day. I was home a lot with my kids and being with other women and having adult time was necessary for me in this way at this time. I realized that the hours and hours of volunteer work was giving myself so much. I was feeling a part of something. I remember hearing women say how excited they were to come to the PTA meeting to get some down time. I could relate to that statement. We were able to sit down and be with other adults.
We all need a sense of community. If we don’t have one, we need to find one or make one for ourselves. A lot of people find this at their churches. I hear about women who are super involved in their church and they find their community there. I feel like I’m a part of my synagogue. I could definitely get more involved there. We need to feel a part of something. We need to feel connected to people. There are so many ways for you to find this. I see a few of my friends have found a community, business and a connection selling Rodan and Fields.
It has been even harder on women in particular this year. Women who went to work every day find themselves working from home (men too). I have heard about women who have changed jobs to be able to be home with their children. If women were lonely before the pandemic, it only grew during it and got worse.
I realized that I just built myself a community without even meaning to. On my journey to help women feel like they are not alone I started with my blog almost 8 years ago. I moved it into a Vlog too, and then created a podcast. After getting the podcast moving and grooving, I moved into building my community by another step by creating the Whinypaluza Mom Group on Facebook. When I created this, I did this with the intent of helping people. I wanted to form a community where people could feel safe and supported. I had no idea the impact that it would have on me. I am finding this community comforting for myself. I had no idea that was going to be a benefit to doing this. I was not getting into this for myself and yet I feel surrounded by love by so many amazing people. I created it. I realize it would be even better in person, but this is a step in the right direction. As I’m writing this, I’m forming ideas in my head about how to take this to in person meetings. Whinypaluza Mom nights are in our future. I know people are still hesitant to get together in a group, but I can envision this happening in our future. Maybe we can even form a Whinypaluza Book Club. Do you see how ideas form as I’m typing?
I want you to really think about if you have a best friend(s) to call when you just want to share something. Not because you need something – just because you have something you want to share. I want you to think about if you have a community that you feel a part of. If you don’t, I bet you can find one or create one. I see three women from my neighborhood running together all the time. They have created this for themselves. Don’t make excuses. Don’t say you are too tired or that you don’t have time. If the research shows that connection is most important then we really need to prioritize this. Time with our family is important but so is time with our friends. If we connect with friends, then we become less burned out and that leads to being better in all facets of our lives.
If we want our kids to have meaningful friendships it starts with them seeing us have them. Tell your kids that you are going to meet a friend for coffee. Tell your children that your book club meets once a month. Tell your child that you are on the phone with a friend, and you will be off in a few minutes to see what they need. If they see us make friends important and see how to do that then they will model us.
I think most of us spend a lot of time on devices. I think we spend a lot of time on social media. If you did a time inventory of your day, I bet you could find a lot of time that is being eaten up by scrolling through Social Media. I am behind the times and tend to still go on Facebook. Instagram, Tik Tok, SnapChat, etc. is taking up a lot of our time. I will use the excuse that I use it for work. It is very true but that doesn’t take hours and hours of my day. We need to set up some boundaries for ourselves with this. Are you able to put your phone away and just focus on work? Do you know how many times I have looked at my phone while typing this? I am embarrassed to tell you. I need to put it away! When I’m meeting a friend, I need to make her feel important and put my phone away. When I go in my bedroom at night, I need to put my phone away.
These boundaries extend to my children too. When my daughter’s go to bed at night, they leave their devices downstairs. I am sad to say that my son’s gaming computer is in his room. He lives in his room. As I type away right now, he is currently in his room doing remote school. I am not setting enough boundaries for him.
Think about how many times we are using social media to socialize. I am learning about my family members and friends and what they have been up to on Facebook. When someone asks me what I have been up to I am actually surprised because I try to stay on top of posting. Isn’t that so sad what I just wrote. I am sad that I wrote that down. Put Social Media down and call your friend and tell her what you have been up to. Ask her what she’s been up to.
I had someone in my life who used to be my friend tell me that the reason I’m so exhausted all the time is because I can’t say no to my children. She is no longer my friend because I set up a boundary there because I didn’t feel as though I was being treated well by her. I’m a people pleaser at heart. I want everyone to be happy. I want to say yes to everyone. That can lead to anyone feeling burned out. Drawing boundaries with my husband, my children, my friends is a skill that I had to learn. She was right. I was saying yes to my children way too often. It’s okay to say no to people. It’s okay for my children to not be happy. You may think this is common sense, but I had to learn this. I don’t have to be the perfect mom. I don’t have to give my kids 100% every day.
My daughter Lillie who is 8 years old asked my daughter Ella who is 12 years old what she likes best about being the middle child. Ella said, “Max is the guinea pig. Mom figures things out and it benefits me. By the time she gets to you she is tired from already doing it twice before you.” From the mouths of babes! I gave Max 100%, and he is spoiled and very catered too. He certainly is our guinea pig going first for everything. I definitely know better by the time it’s Ella’s turn. She is in the perfect position if you think about it. Max told me that all of this describes Lillie to a tee. I don’t have as much energy for her. I’ve also added a lot more work time into my life. I know she feels I’m too busy which we are going to talk about next. I need to make an effort to spend time with Lillie and it’s also okay if she’s upset that I’m tired and want some down time. I’m learning boundaries. Boundaries are so important. Lillie doesn’t get my undivided attention every second she is home.
I laughed when Dr. Ziegler told me that we use the word busy as a badge of honor. Do we feel more important that we are so busy? That’s a good question to ask ourselves. What is most important to me in my life? The answer to that question is the connection with my family and friends. If that is what is most important, then I need to show them that through my words and my actions. I may have a full week but making time for my family and friends is more important to me than my work and my household chores.
Let’s wrap this up with a summary of how you can feel less burned out:
- Make regular time for your friends.
- Be a part of a community. If you aren’t in one, make one.
- Set boundaries with devices and people.
- Learn to say no. Say yes to what’s most important to you.
- Take care of yourself – food, exercise…
- Let’s stop saying we are busy.
- Let’s stop multi tasking and making ourselves feel crazy. Let’s focus on one thing at a time.
I loved reading Mommy Burnout. This blog was completely inspired by it. It’s a great book that I recommend to all of you. Read it and then make some changes in your life. It’s your story, so go create a better story in your days. You are in charge.
You are also not alone. So many of us relate to whatever you are going through. I believe in you. I’m your cheerleader.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
If you are looking for a supportive community, come join the Whinypaluza Mom Facebook group. I created this as I wanted us to have a place where we can talk about tips, strengths and challenges we are having. It is another step I took to help everyone to know that you are not alone. The April Self Care Challenge with a great prize begins April 1st. Come join us!
The Whinypaluza Schedule:
Whinypaluza Wednesdays: My weekly blog comes out every Wednesday. I am always open to your topic requests. A new Vlog (video blog) also comes out every Wednesday night on Facebook and You Tube to discuss the blog. If you would rather listen to a podcast than watch a Vlog, you can wait for the following Wednesday and the Vlog is released on my Podcast.
Family Fridays: Every Friday morning a new Podcast is released. Most of my episodes on Friday are my discussing parenting and marriage with experts on the topic. If you would rather watch the Podcast instead of listen, you can watch it on Facebook or You Tube. If you would like to be on my Podcast or know someone who would like to please contact me at email@example.com
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