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Burned Out Before the School Year Begins?

By Melanie Skelton

“I can’t wait for school to begin,” a friend said to me the other day. “I don’t know how you do it…having your children home all the time.” Some years as the excitement of back-to-school shopping and school registration swings to life similar thoughts enter my mind. I can’t help considering how it would be to have a few quiet mornings to myself to do something I’d like. But at this time of year when faced with such thoughts I propel myself back to the year I submitted to the temptation. I remind myself of the lessons I learned that year.
My oldest daughter was in fourth grade and I was pregnant with my sixth child. My three boys had all come in quick sequence, being ages 3, 2 and 1 years old at the time. They were a mischievous team that kept me running all day in an attempt to keep the peanut butter off kitchen floor and the makeup off the bathroom mirror. My only rest was that blissful few hours when they all slept. My tired brain could not comprehend any way possible to get through the upcoming school year and get it all done.
On the morning public school started, I woke my two oldest and told them they were going to public school. On a whim I signed them up and a new adventure began.
It didn’t take long for the homework to begin as well. My fourth grader had plenty of it and we soon found ourselves doing homework all evening. It was especially difficult on nights when we had other obligations, like Family Home Evening. I began to realize the value of doing the schoolwork on my own schedule. I realized that it was much easier to do schoolwork with a fresh mind in the first part of the day than to be sitting up after dark trying to get it done. Needless to say, we soon returned to schooling at home and we survived the year even with a new baby and an unexpected move.
However, burning out to some degree before the school year begins is not uncommon. I have years when I’m just not ready. I’m physically exhausted, emotionally depleted and hanging on spiritually because that is my only hope.
When we find ourselves in this place it is helpful to have a bag of tools to give ourselves a much needed tune up. Though this bag of tools may look a little different for each of us, here are a few ideas to help keep you going all year.
• Sleep. I find that this is one of the most common tools I use to rev my engine up again. I tend to push myself, burning the candle at both ends until it catches up with me. A nap does wonders at this point, or, even better, before I reach this point.
• Nutritional food. When life it a little bit nuts it is more complicated to make sure you and your family are eating healthy food. But it does affect us if we are using too many quick fixes at mealtime.
• Exercise. One more thing to do…right? But if you get on an exercise schedule and stick with it, you will be energized in the long run.
• Time out for mom. Even if you have to sneak this early in the morning or late at night, a half an hour to do something for yourself can be rewarding. Whether it is a soak in the tub, time to study or write or a few minutes to sew, read or pursue whatever you desire, make this one of the tools you use daily.
• Scriptures reading. There is really nothing that keeps my motor running smooth like reminding myself of spiritual things. Spending time with the scriptures takes dedication, but is probably the most valuable of my tools when used hand in had with prayer.
• Prayer. In moments when we don’t feel we can even get through the day, let alone the moment, there is one who will hear us and help us better than anyone. Don’t forget to pray.
• A phone buddy. Do you have a friend you can call when you need a pep talk? Having a phone buddy can get you through those times when you are sure you cannot do this for another minute. This is a friend you count on to listen, a friend who counts on you in their moments of burned out frustration.
• A trip to the temple. Nothing soothes my soul like a trip to the temple. Whether I am seeking answers to life’s hard questions or just strength to accomplish the things I’ve already found answers for, a trip to the temple really helps me to get focused again.
So rev up your engines and keep your tools closed by. You can choose to make this a good school year and your children will thank you some day.