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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