Avoiding Burnout // A Wish List

As we prepare for the long days of school + XC season + a coaching course Stephen has to take, I've been brainstorming things that would make my life easier. I should also mention that I'm looking to double my own freelancing workload. Some of these things are what I'd consider reasonable wishes. Other things -- or things in combination -- seem like "wouldn't THAT be nice???" But I thought it might be a helpful exercise to share for those of you who feel desperate and can't seem to find a way out.

After years of struggling and suffering/powering through busy/tough times, I've decided that the only way to help my situation when I'm feeling completely over-stretched is to be proactive. I may not get all the things I list here . . . but just saying them out loud helps to acknowledge areas where things are tough. Does this make sense?

(I miss the beginning of summer so much right now!)

More childcare 

Or, I suppose just childcare . . . period. We have never had a babysitter who isn't family. And we don't have family where we live. So, we get dates once every one or two months. Dates are fun and all, but having some semi-regular childcare can also be helpful just in the day-to-day when Stephen is gone so much. I may need that time for work or just for my own sanity.

I don't know how babysitting would look . . . how many hours . . if it would be all or only a couple kids . . . or what. But I'm listing this first and foremost because I've been a parent for 8 years -- a work-from-home mom who, at times, was working nearly 30 hours a week -- without regular or semi-regular babysitting.

Some steps toward this: Eloise will be in preschool W-F from 9-11:30. It's a start. And we did just join our local YMCA for $70 a month. They have childcare hours that I'm hoping to take advantage of if my kids can get used to going.

Help with the house

I love cleaning and organizing. I can get into a good rhythm, too. But now that Eden is mobile and Eloise is in the drawing-on-the-walls, pooping-in-her-underwear, generally making ALL the messes stage, it gets over my head. Especially when I'm home alone for six days a week.

I had inquired about cleaning services a year or so ago and, at the time, they were recommending weekly cleaning. It was too much for our budget. I think twice a month might be better for how much we can spend. So, I'm going to revisit this.

More dedicated work hours

Like I said, I've worked from home freelance writing for eight years now. I've done it without dedicated work time. Without scheduling work hours. I don't know how I've managed. I relied on early mornings and naps mostly. With Ada, it was pretty easy. With adding Eloise, it got much harder but was OK because Ada was in school. Now with Eden, it's nearly impossible.

I've figured out generally how many hours of work time I need each week. I have decided I need to leave the house for at least half of these hours.

More food money

We had always prided ourselves on a super low grocery budget. Like $75 to $100 when it was just the three of us. I also was able to make pretty much everything from scratch because I honestly love cooking and enjoy spending hours toiling in the kitchen. These days, despite my love of food and making food . . . I just CAN'T take the time to assemble all our snack foods from scratch. I know many parents do it -- and some of you have shared how you still do it with several kids -- but I find it impossible with everything else on my plate.

But not making all our own food means buying more convenience foods. I also try to get more fruits and veggies to hand out. It all adds up, somewhat significantly . . . even at Aldi! So, I'm looking to increase our food budget to more like $175 a week, which would include getting, gasp, occasional takeout.

A schedule

I always just wing it with the kids. We have a few activities, but the rest of the time is unstructured. I think I'm going to experiment making a loose schedule -- even if that means that I'm putting things like "play time" or "dinner time" on a schedule. Without structure, I feel aimless and helpless. I may try making each day a theme. Like Monday Moves (do something active -- like going to the park), Tuesday Treats (like baking something with the girls), etc.

Saturday is the hardest, so I may try planning things out in advance (trip to go apple picking, play-dates, certain fall events, etc.) that we'll do each week. Even just writing about the possibility of a schedule makes me feel more empowered.

More me time

I tend to take very little time to myself when our busy seasons gear up. As an introvert, this is VERY bad and leads to mega-burnout. I'm not trying to paint myself as a special snowflake, but constantly being with my kids with no breaks is very hard for me. So, I need to definitely find a way to carve out alone time, even when I don't necessarily have it. That could mean asking Ada to watch over the girls so I can take a brief shower. Or getting in a yoga/breathing session when my kids nap versus working. Or spending time with friends who actually fill up my cup versus empty it (I'm sort of a social introvert. I have certain friends who don't deplete me).


So, this is my wish list. A lot of it takes extra money, which is always hard. But having these ideas out there may help me come up with ways to make it a reality.

Is there anything you would add to this list? 
Do you share any of my wishes?

Avoiding Burnout // A Wish List