How to Let Go of Blogging Burnout

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Work-at-home-mom-blogging burnout (def., n): The state of stress and irritability of a blogging, work-at-home mother who visibily lacks sleep, borders on maternal insanity from juggling toddler care, breastfeeding, work commitments while badly needing a keratin treatment.

It’s the English tutor in me emerging when I make definitions like this (Did I ever tell you I used to read the dictionary for fun, as a child? I know; I’m a nerd. That’s a whole other post. I digress…)

Burnout. You know what I mean. You wake up in the morning, still tired from the previous day, wishing for it to be 5PM again so that you can stop working on a seemingly endless project. And then 5:30 hits, which finds you cooking dinner with the dexterity skills of an octopus, simultaneously chopping vegetables while keeping your toddler from routinely opening the fridge and sorting your condiments bottles on the kitchen floor, just after you had painstakingly categorized them by expiration date. (OK, the categorizing-by-expiration-date thing might be bordering on OC for some, and that’s maybe something I’ll explain in another post, different from the previous one on dictionary-reading. Moving on…)

Do know what I mean? Can I see a raising of hands?

(I thought so.)

More on this, after the jump…

The Heights of “Mount Burnout”

The aforementioned was a familiar scenario for me, say, about a month ago. I knew I was doing too much when I began buying candy bars to snack on during the night, in hopes that I would numb my brain cells by setting off a dopamine rush. I was also irritable and moody, mainly because I would be juggling several tasks at a time, in addition to making sure our home would not start looking like a typhoon zone.

Then, about mid-March, I experienced a lingering headache that lasted over  24 hours, at which point, my husband ordered me to stop working and just sleep. It may have looked like I was blogging like nobody’s business, but the fact is that I had scheduled posts to go up and was managing everything on my phone. Then, it came to a point when I just had to shut my phone off, and shut the world out… and rest. Thankfully, by the end of March, I was able to hie off away from the city — away from work, from blogging, from home — and just relax at a wellness spa, with some mom friends.

Recovery Period

After the Nurture spa trip, I was truly rejuvenated. Better still, I was thinking clearer, about work, home, and life in general. I decided it was time to take some active steps to combat my mom-stress, and get on a new groove. And here were my steps to recovery.

1. Just say “no.” As a former member (and, at one time, possibly the president) of the “people pleasers” club, it’s taken me a while to realize that having to say “yes” to everyone isn’t exactly healthy. I remember feeling quite contented that I was not one of those opinionated people who seemed to have a talent for striking conversations that would end up as verbal spars. Me? I’d dutifully say “yes” to everyone: Yes to doing this favor; yes to unpaid overtime in my past jobs; yes to this product review; yes to this client… without no thought of how much of my time, or even health, would be affected.

Suffice it to say, I love having a backbone and speaking up now. I’m taking control of my work-at-home life so that I remain at the reins. Doing so has freed me up to be me, to balance my work so that I can enjoy winding down with my family each night, and bonding with a close group of friends who can speak their mind and let me be “me.” I can definitely see how this has made me less prone to burnouts.

2. Seek support. As part of my goal to make my work-at-home life more purposeful, I decided to get some targeted consultation for my situation. I availed of a consultation package from Holly Hanna of The Work at Home Woman, which has helped me target many of my work- and blog-related issues. (More about Holly and other work-at-home mom support in another post, coming up soon!) I also spoke with my dad, who advised me on valuing my time and knowledge in dollars — sage advice from a man whom businesses pay for consultation.

Through the support, the advice, and the wisdom of people I looked up to, I’ve learned to let go of jobs and activities that didn’t enrich my life. And I’m all the better for it.

3. Set up your own “stop now” reminders. Do you know I now use an egg timer to manage my time? Yes, I do.  I am the type who can get wrapped up in a project quite deeply, so I need physical reminders to help snap me out of my creative whirl. The egg timer lets me know when to stop social media activity, when to take a break from writing, and when to just drop work and play with my son. A simple, yet sanity-saving tool.

I’m determined to stay on top of things now. Not because I’m a stellar manager or anything, but because I just want to live my days out better, more intentionally as a mom, more productively as a self-employed woman. I still have to pull the brakes on my weak spots once in a while, but I’m better. No headaches to report. And no candy bars in the fridge anymore. (That Baby Ruth is my husband’s, I promise you.)

What steps do you take to get out of burnout? Can you relate with me? Would love to know your thoughts.

Photo: jypsygen, flickr

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Martine! My wife is a WAHM and she has been great at it, even having a website to pay it forward because it has allowed us to focus on our son while still retaining our needed combined monthly income. To de-stress, she usually takes a 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day to just go out of the house, clear her head and talk to her cousins or we try to go to the mall every now and then with our son. What I’m trying to say is really look up to WAHMs because I know its not that easy but you still make it happen.. :) God bless!

    • Martine says

      That’s wonderful, Albert! How wonderful to have a husband comment on my blog! I love and agree with he de-stress tips; I do that, too! We set aside two days within the weekday to go out as a family, for lunch or a playdate usually, just the three of us.
      Thank you for loving WAHMs! You and my husband should meet!

  2. says

    Its true, working from home can become a real fallacy. If you are doing too much, something is wrong and you are fast distancing yourself from the ‘dream’

    • Martine says

      Hi, Claire. Yes, WAHMs have to learn more than just running a business from home or doing outsourced, telecommuting work. It’s a real management job when you work from home, because you have to make housework, childcare AND your job all work together! My “dream” is to get as much family time as possible without sacrificing my intention to work and be a mompreneur. I’m getting to that dream, slowly but surely. it helps to have supportive moms to guide me along the way!

    • Martine says

      Holly, thank you. Your consultation has been such a big blessing, and has made my WAHM life more purposeful, my blogging more defined. Awesome to be working with you, and to take some action steps alongside the coaching you’ve been giving me. SO blessed!

  3. says

    I also work at home and I’ve been writing and editing freelance for three years now. When I feel overwhelmed with all the writing and the reading, I stop and play Farmville, hahaha! But seriously, it helps me unload all the stuff that’s in my head and gets me ready for the next task on my list.
    Mauie recently posted..Thanks to mom forumsMy Profile

    • Martine says

      Hi, Mauie! I’ve never tried any Facebook games, at all! But, my work is more now than just the writing: It’s the managing of my several creative projects that really gets me caught up sometimes. During down times, I need to be away from the computer and the blog, so I choose to go out of the house, play with my son, or just take a nap!

  4. says

    I can so relate. I too work from home and have been so busy this month that I had no time to do anything else but work. Found no time to be with the Little Ones, had not time to cook either since I was working up to Sunday for the last three weeks. But this week I made sure that I managed my work load, like you I had to learn to say no to my client, and make time for myself and the things I enjoy and the people I love.
    Eileen recently posted..Improved TonkatsuMy Profile

    • Martine says

      Glad to know that, Eileen! It’s really a challenge to balance out everything, but once we find our groove, we’ll be better moms and homemakers and partners.
      About saying “no”: It really does pay off. I suppose the saying “When God closes a door, He opens a window” can be paraphrased for the work-at-home mom as “When WAHMs say no to certain jobs, better opportunities always open up.” Or something like that, haha.

  5. says

    Hi, mommy! Thank you for posting this one. It reflects my own thoughts. Yes, I’ve been there, too. As a young mom at the age of 23. I pushed myself too hard to prove to people that even though I married early, I am not a pity. Want to prove that I can have financial autonomy (even with a husband) through online teaching. But that was quite a wrong move in my part because it made my life miserably stressful and worse, I felt guilty of neglecting my son. My latest blog post is a reflection of that experience.
    kristine gavilano recently posted..The Reason Why I Left OnfisMy Profile

    • Martine says

      Hi, Kristine! Read your blog and left a comment, too. I’m glad we have an experience in common! I, too, felt guilty for not spending enough time with my child. That’s what I took steps towards a more thought-out life for myself as a WAHM, one that would still enable me to work, but on MY terms. I’m still mastering the groove of a new schedule and lessened work load, and it will take a few weeks maybe! But at least I feel better now about myself. :)

  6. says

    I so know what you’re saying. Look, it’s 4am now, I’m still up, and have to get up again at 7am. Yes, this is me burning myself out. In truth, I didn’t realize I was pushing myself too much until I read your post. I’ll start setting my “Stop now” reminders too. :(

    My only consolation is that when I feel so stressed, my little girl is just beside me ready to give me a big, tight hug. Now THAT is they joy of working at home.
    Kat recently posted..Swimming and Drownproofing for Babies and ToddlersMy Profile

    • Martine says

      Hi, Kat! The “Stop Now” reminders are the best. Some people can automatically shut down their tasks, but that’s not my personality. I need alarms, reminders and notes to help me out! And I can totally relate about picking up the kid for a hug when times get stressful: My son’s just as cuddly!

  7. says

    When there are too many things that I need to do, I take out a piece of paper and write everything I want to do or need to finish. That helps clear my head and help me to do finish my task one at a time. I also do take “time outs” by eating, reading a book and watching TV series.
    Chris recently posted..Mommy Moments – The Mind MuseumMy Profile

    • Martine says

      That’s a great idea, Chris. I do the same, except my list is in my desktop diary, which is that Starbucks planner I got late last year. I agree about reading for time-outs. I’m currently reading The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual by Shannon Tessava.

  8. says

    HI MOmmy! I am a single mom and more or less I do experience those and maybe sometimes worst than that. You know being a mom and a dad at the same time and working for our bread and butter.
    ..what I do to destress?..once in a while I do go to spa at least facial as a treat to my self. Also when i am stress believe or not i find comfort when me and my baby is having a date.
    And being online delights me.
    Shengkay recently posted..Another Set of EarringsMy Profile

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