26 Feb 2013

I hear burnout is a thing

It’s cold outside today. Cold and rainy.

Zoe has on her blue and white striped leggings and a pony tail that won’t last long. By nap time it will be more tangles than tail and still I like it that way. I was in Dallas last week. And before that I was a bit lost even though I was at home. Lost for words and grateful to have kind friends share encouragement over here.

But also a bit lost in life and commitments and where to find enough of myself to go around.

I told a few friends that some days I feel like I’m running down the street chasing after the bus as it pulls away. And that bus is my life.

Every morning I find that Jackson has snuck into bed with me and Pete. He’s not a toddler any more. He’s not even a preschooler. Dude is seven and a half and more so now than ever before his favorite thing is to arrive cat like in the middle of the night and sinew his way under the covers between us. He knows to stick to his dad’s side of the bed. Mine will be grumpy and likely boot him back to his bunk bed if it gets woken up.

Sometimes I lie close enough to get a whiff of his morning breath on the exhale. His skin is still newborn soft, those cheeks and lashes that one day some girl will think she loves more than I do right now. Many nights, many mornings I wake up and Jackson is plastered to Peter as far away from my side as he can get.

I was glad of it.

And then, this morning, I wasn’t.

Son, I want to be your morning pretzel. To dig back into these last young years of parenting you and be the place you plaster your dreams.

I let the bus pull away. I stopped running. I quietly stopped keeping up on everyone else’s online conversations. To make room to listen to the ones happening right next to me.

You know it’s OK to be tired, right?

You know burnout is for real, yes?

But do you know what to do about it?

At first I didn’t. But then I wrote to a friend who is a counselor. And she called me. And I cried in the front seat of the minivan talking to her for the last hour the babysitter was home. Peter made time for lunch. I made time for friends in my zip code. And let go of feeling guilty about saying no.

I embraced it.

No is really a way to make room for yes.

Yes I have room to read library books to myself.

Yes I have room to get a haircut.

Yes I have room to meet up with friends for early Bible study Saturday morning at 7:30.

Yes I will go to bed early.

Yes I will ignore the toy debris and just sit there on the carpet and let my boys show me their muscles and their moves.

“Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come buy and eat.”
~Isaiah 55:1

My mom would sing it around the house, in the car, on the way to church. I underline it in her Bible this afternoon. The red sweater I’m wearing hugs me back and this evening I think I’ll make tacos.

There is no such thing as the quick or perfect fix. But a slow accumulation of days with different choices. And then usually there’s some more laundry and time to clean the stove top. Our days likely have plenty in common. Our commitments different, but we both feel the tug of being in more than one place or world or conversation at a time.

It’s a Ramen Noodles for lunch day here. Praying you find time for lunch and other things that feed you this week too, friends.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    yes! this was one of the hard things I learned at the end of last summer. to say ‘yes’ to the real people & ‘no’ to the others…when the balance had shifted & I fell. Thankful you are finding ur footing & encouraging others as well. (hugs from Dallas).

    • 2

      Yea it’s taken me a few weeks now…but I think I’m coming out of the funk and into some better choices. Thanks Heather.

  2. 3

    Here’s to cutting back to have a more whole life! Brava!

    Deb Weaver

  3. 4

    Loved all of this.

  4. 5

    Yes, yes, yes from another who is searching for that balance too. 2013 is my year of “less” and that means less activity, less busyness, less clutter (both spiritual and tangible). There are so many worthy activities that we could be involved in but so often the most worthy things are waiting right there under the roof of our very own homes. Let us not forget that mothering is a divine calling in and of itself, and that it is hard to mother well if you aren’t taking care of your own spiritual, emotional, and physical health. (Written as I sit on the couch with a mostly recuperated 8 year old watching old “Max and Ruby” episodes even though on a normal day she would tell you she is much too old for such a babyish show. I’m supposed to be at work today and she’s supposed to be at school, but it sure feels good to slow down.)

  5. 7

    Me too, sister. Was just writing today about living in the wide open spaces, not letting the world’s pressure get to me. It’s good to slow down and remember how to live freely. ::hugs::

  6. 8

    Oh girl. I have been there. It’s a rough place to be, and I say you need to find space to be rest, be lazy, eat, watch movies, and slooooooow down. Sally says when you’re burned-out, it usually takes 1-2 months to come back, and that’s if you’re choosing to actively take a break. I found she was right.

    Love to you sister!

    • 9

      Thanks. Nice to know others are familiar with the process. And yes. Carefully crafting room for no has helped a lot. Moving slower, committing to less, being present with real people more. All helping. Thank you Sarah Mae.

  7. 10

    Oh, I wish we had talked about this at Dot Mom. You couldnt have described my feelings, my life, the saying no to say yes any better if you’d tried. You’re definitely not alone!

    What a lovely blessing to stumble upon this particular post during lunch. Thx!

  8. 11

    I love you, Lisa-Jo. Whether you say yes too often and no too little or get the just-right balance of both, I love you. Praying for you as you slow down, that you enjoy lasting white space.


  9. 12

    Love this, Lisa-Jo, so, so much. There’s no keeping up with everyone, just keeping pace with the One who orders our days. There’s so much goodness in the slowing down, the centering. I hope you keep finding much rest in those real life, slowed down places.

  10. 13

    Aw, honey. So sorry for the burnout. Been there, done that. Many, many times. But you know what? You’re a human being. You’re a mom. You work outside your family work. You maintain good friendships. You are a transplanted traveler with your heart split in two. I think you are entirely entitled to an occasional season of burnout, my love. Yes, I do. Glad you found someone to talk to about it, glad your husband met you for lunch. Glad you’re you, burnout and all. I did a Lenten meditation this week inspired by Milton Brasher-Cunningham’s reflection on learning your yesses so that you can find your noes. SO important, so necessary. May you be blessed with clarity as you seek to underline what is YES for you. And may you be freed to say NO when needed. (The meditation is at the end of this post: http://www.dianatrautwein.com/2013/02/grace-and-peace-lenten-services/ )

    • 14

      You are momma online to so many of us, Diana. Thank you for these words. So looking forward to meeting you in person in April.

  11. 15

    My favorite verse is 1 Cor. 15:58- Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. It wasn’t until your “Beloved” FMF prompt that I realized that I had been skipping how my life verse starts- my beloved! Sometimes we need to stop all of our labor to really understand that we are His beloved- not because of what we do, but just because He loves us. And then our work flows from that.
    I share that, because I am so thankful for your words and I pray that you are feeling his love washing over you. You have been an incredible blessing in my life- I love your honesty and the way you share your heart with the world. Praying for you that you will be able to rest in His name for you- beloved!

  12. 17

    I learned to say no years ago when I had to reenter the workforce and realized that anything outside of family really was “over the top”. So these days I do less so that I will not miss out on my husband and children. Between a “house church”, work, dissertation, moving the kids around to school, baseball, softball, and everything in between, I really don’t care if others don’t understand my season in life – I want them to, but i’m not hung up on it. Thanks for sharing and yes, saying no is healthy.

  13. 18

    Wow. You just set words on my feelings. This is exactly how I feel and have been feeling the last months. Only I had to get sick with fever for a week to slow down my life… Thank you for your honesty by writing this and for the verse you shared from Isaiah. You really made my day, only by describing how you feel, what you do about it, and that it is okay! Wish you well. Hang in there.

  14. 19

    you’re going to make it. and you know how
    i know? you recognized something was very
    wrong and called your counselor friend. we
    all need help, and you were wise enought to
    ask for it.

    one of my favorite scriptures is psalm 113:9
    “He settles the barren woman in her home as
    a happy mother of children.”

    who doesn’t feel barren at times? i certainly

    i pray that the Lord will establish you as a
    happy mother of children . . . and He will and
    He has. sometimes we just need to declare
    it and reset some boundaries.

  15. 20

    I know this place, I’m so glad you’ve taken steps to catch your breath. Im struggling this season myself, so this post is so timely for me. Just know how grateful I am to call you friend.

  16. 21

    Love you, Lisa-Jo. I find that tacos help a lot.
    Remembering with you that there is always Enough in Him (enough time, enough, money, enough words, enough room, enough of whatever is needed),
    p.s. and remember the third floor is yours whenever you need it

  17. 22

    Oh, how I can relate. I often ask myself: Do I cook/write/fold laundry/return phone calls/eat during their nap time? More hours needed please!!! I cut out lots lately, but I still need to snip some more.
    Give yourself some grace. Sometimes, God gives us more than we can handle so that we will lean on him. True story!

  18. 23

    Burnout and perfectionism – they are bosom buddies
    Physical pain has knocked me down for 5 years, and I guess it took a piece of my perfectionism down with it.
    But, it allows me to actually LOOK at the mess in the sink and KNOW I’ll get to it tomorrow, or at least the next day….and WALK on by….
    And when tacos are too much, there are pancakes.
    Last week, I was so overwhelmed that it was cereal and it was sugared (a rarity in this house)…
    Thanks for the post, loved it!

  19. 24

    Yes. With you. So much.

  20. 26

    Oh Friend, I wish I was in your zip code. There are hard busy days, which make the slow steady ones so precious. You’ll find more of those with a good hunt, and you’ll stretch further because of it. Love you dearly.

  21. 27

    Feeling so, so loved by your words here, sister. And know how grateful I am for your honesty in sharing. I love how what resonates in one of our hearts is often just what another one of His girls needs to hear. Thank you.

  22. 28

    You’re in good company, Lisa Jo … sadly, burnout is alive and well for many of us.

    As a pastoral counselor, can I encourage you to think a bit about taking a break from all the online stuff pulling at you from every which way?

    Not to sound like a prophet of doom, but I believe that this is a bigger issue than we realize, and I fear that our screens’ impact on our health and sanity has only just begun.

    Please take good care of yourself, sweet lady.

  23. 29

    Seriously, I’m crying in my minivan in the car rider line at my son’s school. You spoke every word of my heart, and I need this cry to cleanse. It’s all bottled up, but you uncorked the lid so now it’s flowing. Thank you for being so real, so honest, and, well, you.

  24. 30

    Wonderful sharing of a mom’s heart for the children do grow up. My own are in their 30’s now and I repeat the memories of ‘feeling like’ time is passing me by with my six grand children.

  25. 31

    Yes, this sounds slightly familiar. :) I have literally spent years trying systems, thought patterns, plans, organizing, chore assignments, rules for myself, trying to get to the elusive point of, as you said so well, not chasing after my life. Still a work in progress. Thanks for this post.

  26. 32

    so many times I read your words and they are my thoughts. Today I’m wondering why “things” just don’t feel “right.” I’ve lost my mojo . . .

    At this moment–we are having a blizzard–which means sledding tomorrow–or maybe even tonight. I think doing some night time sledding underneath the lights might just make me feel like a kid again!
    Be Blessed.

  27. 33

    This is best post I’ve read in awhile. Thanks for the gentle reminder. I think I need to unplug for a bit.
    God Bless.
    In His Grip,

  28. 34

    Oh, wow. This is me.

    A multi-book contract should be good news. But all I could think of was how I needed to get the cat from the vet before they closed. And I hadn’t made cupcakes for my son’s evening church group. And how I needed to change all the sheets. And my oldest daughter had been so quiet lately and I needed to get her alone and see if she would tell me what’s happening.

    I just couldn’t breathe. I wanted to crawl under the covers and never come out, not even for a big yippee-finally-got-a-big-book-deal. Not even for that.

    So, burn out is a real ything.
    I think I’ll bring the kids out and just sit in the sun for a while. I want to sit down and do nothing.

    Thanks for the permission.

  29. 35

    This is such wisdom, in the words of an honest girl-friend I don’t even know. Praying we all find this grace to be fully present to God, ourselves, our families, our neighbors in the midst of all the noise. This cyber-space ministry/opportunity/community is amazing, but so is the process of finding balance, quiet Spirit-guidance, and responding to His calling in the face of all the chatter.
    Thanks for stopping, and pointing others towards rest.

  30. 36

    Good stuff. Today I went to lunch with my son, two kids who aren’t mine but are in my care today, and my friend and her two boys. I’m glad that’s how we spent the hour just before nap time.

  31. 37

    Thanks for posting this. While we don’t have kids, I have definitely been feeling pulled in a thousand different directions, spread so thin that I feel nothing is getting the attention it deserves.

  32. 38

    I so needed to read this today, and I’m glad I took the time to read it. I had been feeling pulled in every direction and not good enough for anyone, let alone me. It’s hard to realize that it’s ok to let it go. It’s ok to be you, it’s ok to take time for yourself. Thank you so much, Lisa Jo.

  33. 39

    Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days of Chaos and endless laundry…not forever, just for a little while. The nest is empty now, the stuffed animals look at me as if to ask, “Where did everyone go?” And I remember the movie of , The Brave Little Toaster, and wonder if I will wake up one morning only to find that they toys have left to find the children, somewhere in the out-there.

    I remember the days of having a melt-down and being “dis-combobulated” not knowing which way was up. But without a doubt, those were the best years of my life, as I know they are for you. Somedays do not see as “Downey Soft” as others. Some days are just plain hard.

    I love you LisaJo. You are an amazing woman, and I stand back and marvel at all you do for your family and women,( some you will meet only after this life). You make a difference!

  34. 40
    karen sandford says:

    I’m on this road too. I thought I knew how to say no. But only to certain people. I’m done with being bossed about. I may be misunderstood and judged but grace tells me it’s ok. He knows.
    It can be a hard road to go down sometimes.
    Lots of love and thanks for this x

    • 41

      Yes, I heard someone say that “others are making your to-do list” and that summed it up very well! May GOD write our to-do lists!

  35. 42

    I’m so right here with you Lisa-Jo. I went back to work 8-6 three days in a row for the first time in years, this week and now as I come home at night I just sit. There might be unfolded laundry or toys all over the place, but these four little people…well, they are my people and I want to know at the end of the day that I snuggled them well. Thank you so much for these words. once again, you remind me I’m not alone.

  36. 43

    I am so right there! At the moment I have given myself permission to do what I can and leave it at that. Thank you for your encouraging words. I needed them. Bless you heaps :)

  37. 44

    Such a balance! One can’t say ‘yes’ to everything good, but one can choose to be purposeful to love those who are real. In an age when we are encouraged to ‘go’ and ‘do’ sometimes a disconnect is needed when we can just sit and ‘be’. Be with those we love, be with the girls who encourage us, be available to make our family their favorite meals, be willing to love each other in the mess. Here’s to you creating some space for yourself and for the real! ;) Blessings!

  38. 45

    How do you manage to speak to my mama heart with every post? Nailed it. I have been following your blog a short time, but your words make me feel like you’re an old friend. So refreshing to relate and feel uplifted! Thank you.

  39. 46

    mmmm…No, so I can say yes. Trying to learn how to take care of myself. Especially after a counsellor asked me today, “Do you have any idea how hard your life really is?” (we have a very emotionally/behaviourally traumatized child) and I realized I didn’t. I’m just kind of numb…and so ready to get on that ship with my husband next week and rest….yes please!

  40. 47

    This post really resonated with me. Thanks for the reminder to not let the bus pull away.

  41. 48

    Yes, yes, yes! One of my favorite sentences in “Margin” by Richard Swenson is, “We need friends who love our ‘No’ as much as they love our ‘Yes.'”

    We had two high school exchange students from China this year. The boy was not mature enough and was causing extreme stress. I saw the burnout/depression when I noticed that I wasn’t crying or laughing much at all. I called my best friend so that she could kind of watch out for me. The boy was sent back to China yesterday because he failed three of his classes. I am beginning to feel the stress relief and expect it to continue.

    I have been challenged of the need to really BE with my children, to “tie heart strings,” as Michael Pearl calls it. Great inspiration from “Hands Free Mama,” so the past two nights I lay down with my youngest (almost-nine-year-old twin girls) and today I’m going to teach my 14yo daughter how to sew on a button! Last night, while waiting for our Chinese daughter to get out of soccer practice, I listened to the tape of Deborah Shaw Lewis’s book “Motherhood Stress.” Then I watched “Anne of Green Gables” with my three youngest (usually I “don’t have TIME” to watch movies)! These are the choices God loves for us to make.

    Thanks for sharing your life. Be refreshed.

  42. 49

    I was thinking about this just this morning, as I was navigating the minivan through snowy streets, thinking about the Laundry Monster that had thrown up all over the bedroom this morning (piles and piles and piles…) and my to do tasks, and…and…and…then I heard (really heard) the kids singing to the Frog and Toad Musical soundtrack and realized I had felt this same way last year. And yet we managed just fine. They could care less about the laundry. They are just enjoying being in the van and singing “Getta Load of Toad” at the top of our lungs. Accepting the big picture and letting things go is one of the hardest things for me to do, but when you let something go, you allow something else (God’s Sovereign Peace) to come in. Thanks Lisa-Jo for this vital reminder!

  43. 50

    I find myself constantly struggling with balance, trying to keep up with what “must be done” and still soaking up every moment I can with my kiddos. This post was exactly what I needed to hear, especially at this time in my life. Thank you, thank you for sharing!

  44. 51

    Yes, burnout is real and every so often I find I haven’t only burned out I fried myself and then I have to take a day and do nothing. I have to remind myself (and my hubby because we are both very social) that sometimes we have to “miss things” and that is ok. Our little 3 year old is a good help in this area because some times he will say “I just want to go home” and we do and we actually enjoy it. Here’s to saying no to the extra so that we can say yes to the important.

  45. 52

    I have thought of myself as still mothering…until I stay away from Mommy Blogs for awhile. When I return and find you’all still struggling with all these mothering-issues….I realize I’m NOT there anymore. But oh my, I sure once was! So I guess my point is this: mothering is alot of work….alot! And when the chicks have grown and gone….it’s absolutely more relaxing. In my day we didn’t have the internet and all this sharing. We struggled in silence. So all of you here (and other sites) are very, very blessed to have such an outlet for your thoughts and cares. And I’m also here to say that you’re doing a wonderful job of parenting!

  46. 53

    Thank you for posting this. I’m so there with you & needed to read this today. I hope you’re too engaged with people in your zip code to read this comment today. :)

  47. 54

    thank you. for being so REAL. for serving ramen noodles. for writing this. love you Lisa-Jo.

  48. 55

    “No is really a way to make room for yes.” Sooooo true! Thanks for sharing this.

  49. 56

    Lovely. I just stumbled upon your site, I love it and will continue to read what you have to share!


  1. […] And this post resonated deeply with me by one of my blog mom heroes, I know that feeling and it isn’t fun. It’s also good to talk about it and then recover, openly and together. I hear burnout is a thing […]

  2. […] This is for all my friends who do heroic mom-things day after day: Burnout Is a Thing […]

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