I first encountered burnout in college, near the end of my time there. I look back and I just don’t know how I did it all—the clubs, the meetings, the organizations, the fund-raisers and the extra classes, the projects for charity, the parties, the hanging out, and on and on and on. That final spring quarter, I was a waste, not worth much at all. Nothing seemed to be worth it, and no matter how much I did, there was always more to do.
After I graduated, I left all that behind me and started all over. I thought that with a job, I had all this free evening time, so I set about filling it. I taught Sunday school classes, attended every evening Bible study, was a 4-H advisor, did county-level 4-H activities, helped with youth ministry at church, and found time to sleep somewhere in there.
Then I got married, and as I was getting ready to jet on over to one of the many evening commitments I had, Bob looked at me and commented, “You know, we’ll never have a family if we never spend any time together.” That really set me thinking about my focus in life, and about what I’m supposed to be doing right now.
I still struggle with wanting to do too much, and then finding myself so worn out from all that I try to do that I don’t want to do anything anymore. I’m trying to find the balance of extracurricular and home life. Sometime, and especially as we have more children and as Bob begins to take more classes, my extracurriculars will have to nearly disappear. At one point, that really bothered me. I thought that those outside things defined who I am. But I’ve come to understand that the most important work I do is the work God calls me to do…and to know what that is, I have to be listening.
Don’t give up on the possibility of balance! It may be that how you are able to balance all of the things that are important to you is what ultimately defines who you are (in a small way, anyway, as we are all more than the sum of our activities!). I’m speaking from the other kind of burnout–not the kind that results from over-extending oneself, but the kind that results from no longer knowing if one is interested in one’s previous ambitions and wanting to do other things to the exclusion of one’s “real” work. 😛 Oh well! Can you lend me some of your activities? Maybe we could share, and each stave off the burnout! 😉
I would recommend taking this time to enjoy your children and evenings at home with hubby. Before long Small Fry will be wanting to go over to a friends’ house, play sports, and be involved in after-school activities. Once again you will be bombarded with evening commitments but this time in the tune of “Taxi Mom” instead of simply “volunteer.”
At 6 and 9 years old my children already have our calendar booked, mostly with school activites, PTA, scouts, sports….
Enjoy the “peace” while you got it!!
We each stand in a different place, don’t we, and look longingly into the greener grass of what other people have? 🙂
Literacy-chic, you are welcome to come on over and share some activities! (Though I have cut back QUITE a bit!) Though I hear you on your kind of burnout, and have struggled with that as well (maybe in a different way than you, but still, the struggle’s there in the background).
Susan, I hear you too. I see many women singing the “Taxi Mom” tune. My day will come. I would wager, though, that your battles with potty-training have ended… 🙂
It helps me to remind myself that I do not need to do every good thing there is to do. In fact, it is quite impossible and quite irrational of me to think that if something is a good thing to do, it must be a good thing for me to do. Time is precious and it has always and continues to be a challenge for me to effectively prioritize. First things first.
I am sometimes afflicted with what I call the “helium hand”–whenever a worthy cause asks for a volunteer my hand just seems to float straight up. I am getting better at keeping it tethered to my side. But don’t give up on saving a few moment for your own activities. I once met a woman that made me so sad. She was constantly mentioning things she did or enjoyed but had to give up once she had kids. She collected Madame Alexander dolls “until she had kids”. She enjoyed needlework “until she had kids”. Rather than giving up completely on your diversions, look for ways to share them with your family so you don’t feel separated when you pursue them. One woman I know took up painting. She made a point of painting a special picture for her teenage son, allowing him to direct the content of the painting. He was then very supportive of the time she spent painting even when it wasn’t for him.
AMEN! I know I’m feeling very burned out right now. Trying to be the rock to my son, husband, and parents who all need me is very, very hard. I’ve been working extra long hours at work since I’ve taken time off to help family with medical issues. I pray a lot!