Apparently, parental burn-out is a thing.
And let me tell you, I HAVE HAD IT. How do you know you’ve had it or are in it? Well…
You find yourself swearing more (even if just in your head), and this isn’t your normal self.
You lack motivation, in pretty much everything.
You really, really, really care about mothering, but still just can’t.
You feel like you’ve given up. IT’S ALL TOO MUCH.
You LOVE your kids cuddles, but don’t want to be touched. BY ANYONE.
You want a vacation away BY YOURSELF for a whole week. ALONE. Did I mention alone? Doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert. ALONE.
You have the “don’t give a what’s”
T.V. feels like a saving grace and even though you don’t want them on a screen, you don’t a give a what.
You know this is a mental game and you have the Holy Spirit and you know your parenting matters, but…you don’t give a what. IN THIS MOMENT, you don’t. You can’t. Because you are done.
The white flag has been raised.
Desperate texts have been sent.
YOU ARE DONE.
You don’t even know what that means exactly, you just know you are.
We’re going to go ahead and have a safe space right here right now because THIS IS REAL AND TRUE AND NOT WHAT YOU WANT. We must bring this mother burn-out to the light if we want to get better.
Me at the end of the summer, feelin’ IT
Real Answers, Real Help
Bring the Truth to the Light
We must be being willing to be honest about the FACT that mother burn-out is real. It’s real and normal and it kind of makes you crazy. Except that you’re not crazy because it’s ACTUALLY NORMAL TO EXPERIENCE THIS. Everyone understands getting burned out with a job or a test or a paper due or project deadline, but seem to forget that motherhood is ongoing and demanding and exhausting and WONDERFUL and beautiful and painful and ALL THE TIME. Therefore, it’s so NORMAL to get burned out by the constant-ness of it. But if we’re going to come out of it and keep on, we need to bring the truth to the light.
“…everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
If you are burned out, done, dying, feeling crazy or alone or ALL OF THE ABOVE, admit it. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, it just makes you honest. And when you’re honest, you can get better. It all starts with the truth.
Know the Difference Between Guilt and Shame
I read a fantastic article on showing children the difference between shame-parenting and guilt-exposure, but I think some of us could use the lesson for ourselves.
“Guilt’s message is, “I did something bad,” and needs justification and forgiveness. Shame’s message is, “I am bad,” and needs an identity shift and relational connection. Sin leaves both in its wake, and shame is what lingers even after forgiveness has been sought and granted. Shame feels like it’s welded onto you, but guilt feels like something outside of you.” -Heather Davis Nelson, 10 Things You Should Know About Shame
Push off condemnation and accusation and be gentle with yourself. Really, be gentle with yourself. Your heart will accuse you, the voices in your head from over the years will accuse you, and the enemy will accuse you. But God is greater than your heart, the voices of condemnation, and the enemy. He doesn’t shame us, He teaches us, guides us, allows us to feel pain, and leads us as we mother. If you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of failure, go to His throne of grace where He will give you mercy and help if you ask.
“…let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Know Your Needs
When I was feeling crazy at the end of the summer my husband asked me, “What do you need?” Well, I said, a maid and a weekend away by myself at a hotel.
Those were the things I really wanted, and they felt like needs. The helpful thing was to get away and have some help with the house. My husband told me to leave (in the nicest, pushiest way), and so I left for a couple of hours. When I came home, he had WASHED THE SHEETS (that was a new one!) and cleaned our bedroom. He said, “I know we can’t afford you going away or getting a maid, but I wanted you to feel like you had a clean, relaxing space to be in. Also, I’m going to take the kids out for the day so you can have the house to yourself.” GLORY HALLELUJAH. Revival was about to take place.
What I learned in this was to be honest with my needs (or what would really help), knowing that they might not all get met, but to ask and say them anyway.
Have a “Horn of Gondor”
In the Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and his friends are in trouble. One of the men blows a loud horn, the Horn of Gondor, and it is a call for help. When it’s used you know that help is on the way.
That is how I feel about my friends. When one of us calls, when we feel downcast or worried or unsure or just need a night out, they rally. Help is on the way.
We don’t always need fixed but we do need to know we aren’t alone and that help is on the way.
Reach out to your friends. Let yourself be vulnerable enough to let them in. Don’t hide. And if you don’t have close friends, ask God for them. I have made the best of friends in my 30’s. If you’re still looking for deep, honest, safe, grace-filled, fun friendship, don’t give up. Keep praying, keep looking, keep asking. It’s all worth it. It’s all a gift.
(Looking for some time away with women who GET IT? Check out A Night to Breathe.)
These are the women I do battle with. They are my sisters, dear friends, and I know when I call HELP IS ON THE WAY.
Use Other Words with Your Kids But Also Be Honest
When talking to your kids in the midst of losing your mind, replace “OH MY GRACIOUS OF ALL HOLY THINGS LEAVE NOW OR I’M GOING TO I DON’T EVEN KNOW!” to, “YOU ARE A GREAT KID! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” 🙂 🙂 🙂 You know what I’m sayin’. K. Don’t put your crazy on them. At least try not to. When/if you do, ask forgiveness.
Be honest with the fact that you do NOT have your stuff together, but that it’s not them, it’s you, because really, IT IS. Kind of. Mostly. Point being, YOU NEED JESUS. Tell them. Show them. DESPERATE FOR JESUS. They are watching real life unfold. If we’re honest, we can show them that life might be hard sometimes, but we can overcome with Jesus…He is our help, our strength, and our gentle Father. He listens to us and He cares. Let your kids see this.
And lastly, for now…
Get Out and Make Some Fun
Sometimes, in the midst of the crazy, you just have to get out and make some fun.
On October 5th I loaded my kids in my mini-van and drove 40 minutes to get free coffee at a Pop-up Luke’s Diner for a Gilmore Girls event. Did my kids have any idea about the Gilmore Girls? Not really. They’re too young, but you know what, WE HAD FUN. I made a spur of the moment decision to go when I couldn’t find anyone to go with. It broke up the monotony of the day (of the month?) and it was a memory made.
Sometimes you just gotta go for it!
Here’s the thing, all of us moms will have those days, those weeks, those months. But we will make it. We will keep on.
If you are feelin’ it, the burn-out, you are not crazy and you are not alone. You are normal. You will get through this. You just might need a horn of Gondor and some coffee. All your work as a mom, loving, nurturing, teaching, dealing with conflict, and “one more kiss goodnight”? It’s totally worth it.
Keep on sister.
Love, Sarah Mae
P.S. You might also need A NIGHT TO BREATHE. It’s an event I’m hosting with my dear friend Amy Smoker. It’s a time to get away, relax, enjoy, eat, drink, and be filled up so you can go home refreshed Also, cupcakes and clean sheets. Check out the details HERE.
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TICKETS ON SALE NOW HERE!
A Night to Breathe | 3/18/17 | 7pm | Hilton Harrisburg
I’d like a night away.
In a hotel room. With clean sheets and a hot bath and ALONE TIME. To myself. All by myself.
That’s how I’m feeling right now.
I’m filled to the brim with love for my children, they truly are a delight to me. But I know that even this happy mama needs time away. And I just haven’t gotten it lately because my sweet husband has been working around the clock on his business (self-employed life, you know?).
So, I’d like a night away. How about you?
Amy and I are once again hosting a night for moms to have a collective EXHALE! We call it, A Night to Breathe.
Treats, coffee, encouragement, and most importantly, A NIGHT TO YOURSELF IN A HOTEL ROOM. Really, that right there is the major plus.
Here are the deets:
What: A night to breathe, relax, enjoy, eat, drink, and be filled up so you can go home refreshed
Who the Event is For: This event was designed with the mom in mind who is tired, could use a rest, and wants to be spurred on to keep on. While an older mom with teens might benefit, it is really for those moms with younger children (say, under 11).
When: Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Where: Harrisburg, PA
Time: 7-10pm (But we HIGHLY recommend you spend the night so you have all morning to breathe, process, pray, and plan for your soul and your family.)
Tickets: There are 100 spots and tickets are $60 which includes access to the talks, snacks, dessert, coffee/tea, and a gift.
Hotel Room Rate: If you choose to spend the night, the hotel room rate is $110. There are only so many set aside at this price, so you’ll want to get on it as soon as the hotel site is set up for the group rate (soon)!
Soooo… get your friends together or come and meet some new ones!
Get Your Tickets HERE!
See you in March!
Love, Sarah Mae
It’s always so interesting to see how God works.
As I was winding down in my writing “career” (no more book contracts as of now), saying goodbye to a national conference I had run and then been a part of for six years, and all the doing, doing, doing, I finally began to feel…rest.
It took awhile to settle into this new rested-ness, but the rhythms of it have been so wonderful, so freeing, that I often think, “Am I just going to do nothing forever? I like doing nothing. I want nothing but to eat food at 9 at night and watch Netflix with my husband. Maybe I’m washed up. Maybe I’m okay with that.”
Of course it was silly to think I was doing nothing because I homeschool three kiddos and am in the thick of mothering (hi 7, 9, and 11). I mean, that’s enough.
And it’s enough.
However in this winding down, settling in, believing it’s good and enough (not good enough but good AND enough), the Lord has given me the gift of mentoring. I don’t mean “the gift” as in I’m awesome at it, but the gift of blessing me, lifting my spirit, bringing joy to my soul through mentoring young women who are local to me.
One young woman came to me because she read my post on abortion and it led her to FB message me. We used to attend a church together and I was, for a very short time, a youth ministry helper one summer. She remembered me and decided to reach out. We met, she wanted help, and I offered to walk with her through a study. We’ve been meeting in my home for about 5 months now.
Another young woman came to me through a book study I was in over the summer. She wanted more of God, more Scripture, more wisdom and insight and she wanted someone to guide her in it all. Well, we clicked and God worked and what do you know, we’ve been meeting and doing a serious study through Ephesians.
I’m telling you this because as I’ve been meeting with these two dear young women, not only has it been a joy to me, but I am seeing the importance (had I forgotten?) of meeting one-on-one with younger women.
I read recently where Jen Wilkin said, “If a local church lacks visible spiritual mothers, its daughters will (understandably) look elsewhere to find them.” I couldn’t agree more. We need to be willing and visible and humble enough to walk with young women in our local churches as they are growing and seeking spiritual guidance. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the spiritual mentors I had in my early 20’s and on through my life.
And here’s the thing, we don’t need to have “it” all together or be awesome at anything, we just need to be open. Willing. Available. Not too busy.
I’m not suggesting that if your hands are full of little ones you go out looking for someone to mentor; you have mentees at your feet. I am saying that if your kiddos are a bit older, you’re sleeping through the night (praise Jesus), and you have the breathing space (sometimes we need to make that space), then just be open to who God might bring to you. I didn’t seek these women out, but God brought them to me and tendered my heart to them. And with that I say, “Okay God. You do this because I don’t have it in me, but you can do this through me. Have at it.”
So I’d like to encourage you: be visible. Get to know the younger women in your church. See what God does and be open to His leading. The younger women could really use us right now, and as Jen says, if we don’t nurture them spiritually, they will look elsewhere.
Keep on, and let’s get to it!
“Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine…Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”
Titus 2:3-5, The Message
Love, Sarah Mae
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With my Mother-in-Law, who is wise and kind and I’m grateful for her mentorship.
I feel like I am in the golden age of parenting.
My kids are 7, 9, and 11 and they are not only a delight to be around, but they are so moldable and teachable and willing to listen and learn and yet still cuddle. They haven’t reached an age where they are pulling away from me (I hope this never happens), and yet they aren’t so little I can’t hold their attention for more than a few minutes. I am loving parenting right now.
I love watching their personalities come out and how they interact with the world.
I love that I get to be on the front lines with them as we navigate their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and all the tangles of life.
There are hard, crazy days for sure, but overall, right now, we are in a sweet spot. And I’m going to take advantage of that with all I’ve got.
I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and joy in teaching my children about truth and grace and the God who gave His life so that we may be free and holy and new.
Here are some ways I’m filling the treasure chests of their soul with goodness and beauty and truth:
Get the Word In
I don’t make my children read the Bible, although I do encourage them to do it. What I do do however is have a morning time with them in the living room where we go over spiritual truths and then I read from the Bible.
Currently we are using The-Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New, but not as a quick read. On a white board I write out the spiritual truth from the page we’re on and we memorize it. We don’t go on until we all have it memorized. We began in September and we only have these four done:
God always was and always will be.
God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
God created everything out of nothing at all.
God is all-powerful.
We also work on a simple Scripture to memorize and we don’t move on until everyone has it. IMPORTANT SIDE-NOTE: If you’re anything like me, you might get discouraged reading about Scripture memory and your kids. I read blogs where moms have their kids memorize whole Psalms or portions of Scripture and then I feel like a failure as a mom and a teacher. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. Do what works for your family. If short, simple Scriptures are what you do right now, than do that. We are memorizing one-sentence Scriptures at this point and it is good.
And then I read to them right from the Bible. This morning we read and talked about John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…he world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”
I’m also doing this wonderful devotional with my oldest daughter.
Read Classic Christian Allegories
We are currently reading the modern-language version of The Pilgrim’s Progress. We began first though with reading a children’s version called, The Dangerous Journey, which is beautiful and interesting and my son in particular loved it (and still does). Now that we’re reading the “grown-up” version, my kids open The Dangerous Journey book up to follow along with the pictures (which are fantastic and not all cartoonish).
We have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places (the children’s version), we’re currently listening to A Wrinkle in Time (which the second half of is blowing my mind and also reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ The Hideous Strength), and when they get to be teens they will have to read C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy (which is profound and fantastic beyond words).
SIDE-NOTE: I never heard of or read any of these books growing up, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t either and are feeling like you don’t know where to begin. I was not raised a Christian and I am learning right along with my kids, which has been a wonder. If you feel lost over resources or what to read or where to begin, begin with the resources I’m mentioning. Just start with one thing.
Tell the Story of Our Lives
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
The story of our lives is a testimony to our God.
I will never forget when Jesus changed my life.
I was at a Christian retreat my Freshman year of college and a speaker asked this question: “What would you do if Jesus walked into the room right now?”
Sitting there as 19 year old confused girl and baby believer, I thought “I would hide.”
If Jesus came into the room, I would hide. I would go and bend down behind one of the worn couches and make sure He couldn’t see me. Because He wouldn’t want to see me. He, being holy and good, and me being filthy and having done awful things. I was not clean. I was dirty. A holy God shouldn’t see a dirty girl.
I shared my thoughts with the small group I had been put in, thinking they were obvious and made sense, and someone from the group spoke life to me:
“You wouldn’t have to hide,” she said. “Jesus knows everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to do and He loves you anyway. If He were to come into this room, He would embrace you and put His hands on your face and call you ‘daughter’.”
That night changed everything.
All of us who know Him have cried out to Him and He turned to us…He saw us and listened and inclined to us because He loves us so. And when we bend a knee to Him, He lifts us out of our pits, out of our sin and muck and He gives us a rock to stand on – Jesus Christ. We get steady on a firm foundation. And then He puts a new song in our mouth; one of praise and not lament. We say, “This is what the Lord has done! He is so good and so kind and I am no longer alone. I belong. I am loved. I am His daughter. He makes me new!” And people see and they hear and their hearts get tender and put their trust in Him.
This is the story, the human story, of how God changes the world through changing one person. This is how a flame catches until there is a fire ablaze for Him.
And that fire touches the very people God has put in our care: our children.
My kids hear the stories of what God has done in our lives. We tell of Him and where we were and what He’s done. We talk about our muck and our sin and how Jesus alone takes our sin to the cross so that we are now holy and righteous before Him.
The truth is that there is sin in all of us. It’s a part of our human DNA, and we can’t get it out or make it better, but He makes a way. We can’t bleed it out, so He bled for us that we would be new and have new DNA, holy DNA.
We tell our children that everyone of us will die, and then face the judgement of our holy, good, gentle, just, tender God, and we will give an account because we have all sinned. But if we know Him, if we have believed in Him and received Him as our everything and given our lives to Him in full trust, than we become His children and He gives us life to the full. We will never be condemned and instead He will change us from the inside out with gentleness and care if we are humble and submit to His molding. What a good God we have!
So tell them. Tell your children the stories of what God has done. And when you’re in the middle of a story, in the middle of a storm, tell them to hang because God won’t leave or forsake His children, not ever.
Give Meaningful (but still fun) Entertainment
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for creators like Phil Vischer and the whole team at JellyTelly.
They have managed to get truth and theological concepts into kids through fun characters and stories, and my kids love them! They are funny and clever and so enjoyable. And the library is stacked with not just fun shows, but resources that help me teach my kids Biblical concepts. Just take a look at some of the options:
My kids love 3-2-1 Penguins, The Last Chance Detectives, Hermie and Wormie (OH MY WORD THE MEMORIES OF WHEN THEY WERE LITTLES!), Clive and Ian, Davey and Goliath, Hillsong Kids, and The Sugar Creek Gang, and we are still exploring! I personally love the series, “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” Mature theological truth about all things Christmas. I promise YOU will learn right along with your children.
“JellyTelly is a partner for parents in our media-drenched culture. It provides safe screen time for kids, but more than that – it allows kids to enter a media world where God is real and His Word is true. It can be a powerful tool for parents and kids to spend time together watching and learning, and then talking about Jesus and their faith.” -Phil Vischer
I choose only a few paid subscriptions to be a part of, and JellyTelly is one of them. Because for only $4.99 a month I have access to tons of wonderful, helpful, entertaining resources and movies and shows for my kids that I don’t have to worry about. Also, the five-minute devos are awesome. I can teach my kids what a prophet is, how God is redeemer and protector, what we can learn from Adam, and more in just 5 minutes.
To get a week free (try it out, you’ll be glad you did), or to go ahead and subscribe for only $4.99, just head HERE!
My dear friend and mentor Sally Clarkson always says, “If you don’t have biblical conviction, you will go the way of the culture.” As Christians, as lovers and followers of Jesus (who is God), we hold fast to our faith no matter what comes down the pike. We believe because we have been changed, because His Word is true and good and He is true and good. And this we pass onto our children, this faith that we pray they take on for themselves.
I will do everything I can to fill my children with the truth. I can’t save them, but I can lead them and teach them. And I will. I will use His Word and His tracing of my life and the stories and good books and good entertainment while I can. I encourage you to keep on doing the same. As I’m sure you are.
Keep on out there. You are doing good, faithful work.
Love, Sarah Mae
With much thanks to the wonderful folks at JellyTelly for sponsoring this post. You all are impacting lives for His Kingdom and I am grateful.
There are affiliate posts in this post. See my disclosure policy here.
Every time I speak and share my story, women come up to me afterwards and tell me their abortion stories, and then they tell me how they’ve never told anyone. I have had 70 year old women tell me they’ve never told.
So here’s what I want to do: If you’ve ever had an abortion and have never processed through it or told your story, and you want to tell it, tell me. Email me at sarahmaewrites (at) gmail.com. I will read it and I will sit with you in it, holding space for you and praying for you.
I want to offer you a safe place to share your story and get it out of you. There is something in the writing of our story that offers some freedom. It doesn’t replace counseling, which I highly recommend for post-abortive women, but it does offer a valuable form of processing and releasing. I want to see you free, and this might be a start.
Abortion is complicated and heart-wrenching and confusing. Many women who have had abortions just aren’t even sure how to face it or process it. If you feel that way, you are not alone.
If you need to tell, I’ll listen.
Love to you, Sarah Mae
Any unkind comments will be deleted.