Some days, like today, I’m just bone weary. It comes from all the doing, I know. It’s days like this when we are told to ‘just take a break’ or ‘be kind to yourself’ or ‘ignore the to do list’, but that would start a domino effect that I’m just not ready for. As much as I’d like to take a day to myself to rest and get my emotional equilibrium back, it’s just not possible right now.
I’ve got three kids winding up their activities for the year, which basically means… even more activities. There are dance concerts and Christmas parties and extra school activities. Plus Max is finishing primary school so there are high school orientation days and parties and ceremonies and, god help him, a dinner dance to manage. Plus, I’ve got a job that ramps up with Christmas content and holiday content and back to school content (because it’s November so while I’m living end of school, I’m working through back to school). Then there’s the whole Christmas thing going on (although fortunately I feel on top of that thanks to my new Christmas Countdown calendar approach – see below).
Anyway, you don’t need to hear me rattle on about where my exhaustion comes from. It comes from absolutely everywhere. We’re all trudging through it. Kelly Exeter nailed it when she talked about the emotional exhaustion of mothering. It seems to me that that kind of exhaustion is unavoidable at the end of the year. Thank goodness we have slow January to help us recover from it all.
In the meantime, I cope. It’s what mums do. We hold our chin up and we get on with the business of living, working, parenting, managing and solving. Here are the things that help me cope best on exhausted days:
1. I tell Bart exactly what I need. Lots of husbands want to help, but they don’t really know how. And there is nothing worse than being knee-deep in shit and the husbie saying, “is there anything I can do to help?” Because Omifreakinggod would you just look around already there are a million things you can do to help!!!!!! It doesn’t work that way. I don’t know why it doesn’t work that way either, but it doesn’t. All I know is that succinct instructions on how to shovel shit is what men need. So I say, “Grab that red-handled spade over there, the one leaning against the wall 20 cm to the left of the back door, and bring it back here and scoop up the furthermost shit first and take it to the shit heap located 2 metres from the left-hand-side garage door and leave it there. Then come back for further instructions…” Yep, that’s the level of instruction that I think men need when we want them to help. If that’s womansplaining, so be it. It gets the help done.
2. I time out of the school lunch Olympics. I unfollowed the Look at My Kids’ Superior Lunch Box groups on Facey a long time ago (my heart was starting to hurt even more than my eyeballs), but that doesn’t mean I started throwing chip packets into the lunch bags. I take pride in a healthy, homemade, litter-free lunch for the kids each day. Or I usually do. This time of year, when I’m crawling along the home stretch self-flagellating myself as I go, I throw the chip packet in along with a couple of pieces of fruit, a Vegemite wrap and a prayer. I don’t even bother with a lunch box – straight into the insulated bag it all goes.
3. I embrace the ‘meat and three vege’ retro movement. The ‘meat and three vege’ standard of our youth was actually a pretty good basis for a healthy meal. It takes approximately 47 seconds to prepare some steak and salad for dinner. Even quicker if you make it a saus and roast vege combo or an eggs, beans, avocado and tomatoes meal. Dinner does not need to be a ‘recipe’ every night. Most nights, getting good food on the table is all we need to do.
4. I take a daily holiday. This is more the ‘you’ve won a half-hour holiday’ moment. I put my headphones on, switch the podcast to play and out the door I go. No matter how busy work is during the day, I owe myself that mini-holiday sometime during the day.
5. I look forward to stuff. For a long time I got myself caught in a really bad habit of not looking forward to things because there was such a lot to do to make them happen in the first place. Take Christmas, for example. There is a such a lot of work involved in making Christmas wonderful. It can be easy to will Christmas away because you’re just not ready. Well, I make myself be ready. I make my lists and plot my calendars and basically do everything I have to do to be organised enough to enjoy the occasion – to even enjoy the process. Otherwise, what’s it all for, really? Start everything earlier than you think you need to because that’s how long things actually take.
How are you coping right now?