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Thriving in Motherhood

Choosing balance over burnout

Editor’s Note: Local Kam Green is a mother to three children, an author, speaker, and positive self-talk advocate. Her latest book is entitled-Yup, You Got This- Positive Self-Talk to Help You Get Up & Thrive. Additionally, she has published four children’s books under her pen name Kam Vivi Verde.

I remember it like it was yesterday; I finished a long week of work with a happy hour at Brio Italian Grille and then went right into a weekend of “Mom Duties.” With a long list from soccer to flag football, theater to swim, birthday parties, and last-minute requests for an upcoming dance performance.

Then I remember getting the message: “All schools across the state will be closed.” With that, most things came to a screeching halt. The first few days, I welcomed the pause in activity. I embraced the downtime and reflected on the fact that our schedule had been slightly unreasonable. Then week one turned into week two, and week two turned into nearly two years of a completely different way of living.  

So, here we are again embracing a new normal — somewhat optimistically and eagerly with a side of caution. As things began to reopen, the feeling of rushing back to fill the gap and any deficits we felt our children had, was roaring in many of us. Perhaps we felt the need to make up for lost time, take advantage of every opportunity, and RSVP to every party.

But is racing back into a packed schedule with no room to pause, be present, or process really what we want? As we move into this next phase, I believe it is important to be intentional and consistently choose balance over burnout.

Let’s explore a few simple ways to do so.

1. Stop and Take Stock

The first tendency that we have when we get behind is to try to play catch up, but we often miss a step in the rush to catch up — that is the “taking stock.” We often find ourselves racing forward with a plan without this critical step. If we think it will be good for our kids, as moms, we feel like we must find a way to make it happen, especially after the past two years.

But what we should do before we fill the calendar is align with our family priorities and consider the time commitments and our kids’ level of interest. Make a list of all the activities that everyone is interested in, open the calendar, and start the conversation. And we shouldn’t have this conversation alone; we should include our children. 

It’s important for them to think through and identify what a balanced life looks like.

For the longest time, having my daughter play club soccer did not align with our family priorities, and we would always turn down the opportunity, and I am grateful I was able to “stop and take stock” because it truly didn’t fit in those times.

2. Schedule Pauses

We appreciated the time to pause for part of our time in quarantine, even if it was for a moment. Yes, there were times, maybe more than others, that we felt like we didn’t need anything else to be cancelled. But what mom has time to pause when there is so much to catch up on? Whether you’re a working mom, single mom, or a mom who, despite every effort to take stock, is constantly shuttling children around to appointments or activities, the idea of pausing may sound unreasonable after the two years we’ve just had. While it might seem that way, it is extremely important in the matter of balance. And let me be clear, when I say a “pause,” I’m not thinking of a full “spa day.” While those are great, and if you can do those, you should. The kind of pause I am talking about is choosing to RSVP “no” for no other reason than “I need a minute.” Or taking three to five minutes to sit still, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, stretch out your arms, and do nothing. Three to five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it is. Research shows that a few minutes of meditation goes a long way. It can help reduce stress, improve our concentration level, and increase our self-awareness. During quarantine, I would often tell my kids when I worked from home, “Mom is commuting now, so I’ll have to get back to you,” to give myself that space to pause before I started my day. And we absolutely still need that. So, consider pausing at some point in every day. The pause will give you perspective, help you take stock, and improve your mood and mindset. Take a pause for the cause, and the cause is you.

3. Forgive Yourself 

During the height of the pandemic, I’m sure we all felt like we weren’t getting it right when it came to parenting. The often juggling between work, multiple children’s academic needs, meals, and the lack of a break or external activities caused many of us to feel we were falling short. And maybe we saw the Pinterest-perfect home classrooms with seamless lunch times and room for flawlessly executed Tik Tok videos and thought, “Clearly, I’m missing something.”

Of course, it’s easy to beat yourself up, especially when it comes to our children. However, we must accept that we won’t always get it right and forgive ourselves. We can’t pile guilt on top of guilt; that’s too heavy a load to bear. When we walk around weighed down by our past mistakes, it leaves little room for freedom to have new successes and happy memories with our children. Remind yourself you’re human.

4. Get Help 

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as moms is thinking that we have to and should do it all. We must set boundaries and not overextend ourselves and take advantage of the support around us. Whether it’s a spouse, family, a babysitter, a friend, or maybe your church community — find the people who can help and let them.

If you have kids who are walking, use them. You should never look at the house and laundry and think, “How will I get all of this done?” Round the children up and teach them what it means to live in a community. 

I tell my children all the time, “We live in a community, and for this to work, we all have to contribute. No one person should do everything while everyone else benefits.” 

We are caretakers for our children, and part of that is showing them how to be responsible. If we want to choose a life of balance over burnout, we must make sure we share the load of responsibilities and get help when needed.

5. Choose Positivity, Over Perfection 

Last but certainly not least, remind yourself every day that perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t look over the fence at the perfectly made dinner or Instagram-decorated home with kids that seemingly always make the grade or the goal and feel bad. On days when you feel like you don’t have it figured out, remind yourself that it isn’t a requirement. On those days where your child misbehaves during the entire grocery store trip, doesn’t want to do any of their homework, disagrees with everything you say from the time they arrive home, and in a matter of moments rattles your whole peace of mind; remember you’re not alone. Take a deep breath, forgive yourself, and trust that it will all be okay. And acknowledge that OK might look different from day to day. Tell your child you love them, you’re proud of them, and be transparent about your shortcomings to remind them and yourself that no one is perfect. Every day and from moment to moment, give yourself grace. Use positive self-talk to remind you to embrace all your vibes and choose balance over burnout so you can - Get Up & Thrive.

  • Kam Green