One Burnt-Out Green Mama

I subscribe to many blogs. Some have environmental themes or Waldorf/homeschooling themes. I pore over blogs on green living by a plethora of green mamas to blogs on art & crafts and cooking. I usually get great information and feel connected and often times supported in my choices as a green and holistic mom. But lately, when I open my inbox to see another wonderful post with inviting pictures from a mom with a baby or a toddler, or worse yet, a mom with 2 or more children, all I feel is… well, bad about myself. What is wrong with me?  I have just one toddler/preschooler. So, why don’t I have any time to blog anymore?  Or do anything for personal pleasure?

How do you mamas do it?  It takes me hours to get my 2 1/2 year old to nap and then several more hours at night, resulting in struggles, and then my giving in and sleeping with my son or having him come into our bed at midnight.  My husband and I have no time together. I have no time to read, write or craft. Our wedding album still sits empty with pages waiting to be filled from 3 years ago. Baby albums have yet to be made and my son’s baby book is mostly chicken scratch in my old Daytimer waiting to be transcribed into his lovely handmade baby book. I have a stack of books on my night table just waiting to be discovered.  I am frothing at the mouth to get through “The Case Against Homework” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. How nice it would be to read something other than parenting and environmental books.  The lovely tome, “The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy” is whispering to me at night “psst…hey….just open the cover”. But, I can’t. My son takes late naps and doesn’t go to bed until 10/11/12pm! Waking him from his nap early doesn’t work. Nor does waking him up early in the morning.  It seems he doesn’t require as much sleep. It’s like he is perpetually jet lagged from our move and wants to sleep from 12pm to 9am and then nap from 3-6pm! Interventions to adjust these times work only some of the time. I have no consistency.

So, here I am today, admitting, after a melt-down (in front of my son) – something I am not proud of – that I am burnt out!  You may say to yourself, “well, you’re blogging now”. Ah, yes. But, I should be napping with my son, because I will be up until midnight trying to get him to sleep. Yes, I have a routine. Bath, pajamas, books – lots of them. He loves books. Then once the light goes out it begins. “I wan’t a snack”.  Sometimes he’s really hungry because now many hours have passed since dinner. And sometimes it’s a ploy. Well, today he was hungry and I thought it was a ploy.  I felt so badly watching him scarf down his “carrot stew” (inspired by the reading of Tawny Scrawny Lion) after I snapped.  What would you think if you read a book about food and your child asked for that food? Sounds like a ploy to stay up, right?

So, I’m back to feeling less-than for not being able to DO what all you other mamas DO out there in the blogosphere – and in your lives. I’ve peeked inside your lives through your blogs. You cook from scratch, you play with your children, you take trips, you make crafts -AND you blog. How do you do all of it?  Do your children sleep for like, 2 hours in the day and 10-11 at night? Please tell me they do. And then tell me how to get my son to do it too. I would be forever grateful! Because, I am not willing to feed my son processed, crappy food or sacrifice our play and creative time so I can have some free time to myself. But, I also can’t spend 3 hours each night getting my son ready for bed and to sleep.

Ah….the world is at peace when he sleeps.  It’s just getting there that’s hard.  Any advice you blogging mamas?

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16 thoughts on “One Burnt-Out Green Mama”

  1. Oh, Deb, I feel your frustration. Believe me, you are not the only one that has meltdowns. Toddlers are so dependent on us for food, drink, entertainment and change of diapers. And the cold weather drives them crazy because they can’t go outside and play.

    Just as you, I find some time when Denzin naps (such as right now) or when he goes to bed around 10-11 and even 12 am sometimes. That’s when I can read, write a blog or take a hot bath. It’s a luxury time. Oh yeah, I have my parents to help with him when I need to go somewhere.

    Could you hire a babysitter for a few hours during the day? It may allow you some free time to pursue the things you are passionate about.

    Stay strong, Deb. This stage shall pass too. I keep reminding myself that some day they will be so independent that we will be complaining that we don’t spend “enough” time with them. It’s funny how motherhood evolves. :-)

  2. Hey Deb,
    I feel you! Aiden has no desire or ability to sleep on his own, I spend a good 3 hours a day just on getting him asleep or awake. Lets not even start on the amount of cooking and dishes that develop. No matter how early he wakes or how short a nap he refuses to go to bed before 11pm and if he does get down early, he is up within 3 hrs ready to play at midnight. He just started wanting to eat before bed and that just delays the process. I just try to remember that this is his journey AND our journey together. For some reason, this is how things are for him now and I just have to stay strong….that being said, I have found that getting out for even 10-15 minutes when I am feeling totally burned out really helps. And, Mark just chimed in that as soon as you get this figured out, something else will be there to take its place….I say, try to enjoy the ride as much as possible, don’t feel to badly about showing Dino your honest feeling and emotions. His job is hard and so is yours!!!! Kids have meltdowns and so do adults and all you can do is follow the same boundries you set for him durring those times. Seeing you be real will just allow him to be more himself and know its ok. As previous said, this time will pass quickly and much faster than anyone would like. Does it really feel like it has been 3 years since we were in birthing class together???? And, quite honestly, I am impressed with everything you are doing and I think your a GREAT mom. SO as burned out as you feel and as tiring and frustrating as it can be, remember what a good job you are doing and you are learning all about life now too, just from a different perspective than before! Hang in there!!!!

  3. Thanks Zoe and Danielle> I just had Dino for 8 days by myself visiting friends in Texas and now my husband is in China for a week. I have my mom to help, but I do all the put to nap/bed stuff. So it’s draining. I just have so much to do. And so much I want to accomplish. It seems like it’s so easy for some. I guess my time will come when Dino is ready. :-) Thanks for the support. And, yes, Danielle – I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already! Big kiss and hugs mamas!

  4. VENTING HEARD!! Sing it sister! I say just let him stay up. REALLY.
    All moms have a “thing” they struggle with. My daughter goes down late, sleeps in late and wont take a nap for anything. Then there is, My friend, her house is spotless, she is in grad school, has a fulltime job at a hospital for children, and does consulting work…but her kids only eat 3 different foods and they are all yellow. Chx nuggets, mac and cheese and buttered bread. I choose veggies over napping so thats what we get. Can’t win them all. kisses to dino bambino.

  5. I definitely empathize with you. Here I am starting my second pregnancy and feeling bummed that for x amount of years ahead I will again be frustrated about the lack of me time (we planned to be pregnant and are excited). I too feel really behind compared to other moms. All I want is to be a professional mommy-blogger also and am trying to learn CSS and XHTML and all the stuff needed to create my image and find my style and yeeshh… I’m suffering a lack of motivation since I feel so overwhelmed and lost. I have no idea how other mommy-bloggers can have such well written articles, consistent in structure. And really as soon as I get a rhythm and start exploring and learning I have to hop up and then poof it’s gone from my head. Anyway, hang in there. Do what you can. Be gentle on yourself.

  6. I think you are being too hard on yourself.
    Having young children is probably NOT the time in life to expect of yourself what someone without children would have a tough time doing…
    It’s OK to want it. But to bash yourself when you can’t do it… how can you ever be happy like that?
    Keep your goal in mind but set realistic steps.
    The mom bloggers you admire- I don’t know- maybe they are more organized, or their kids sleep better (mine is a terrible sleeper and I get very little done, so I know how you feel), or maybe they have more help…
    You wrote, “You cook from scratch, you play with your children, you take trips, you make crafts -AND you blog. How do you do all of it?” I don’t do any of that and I am pretty happy. I wish I could work out more. I wish I paid more attention to my husband. I’m not eating great, I’m not sleeping great, but I’m enjoying my kid, trying to do my best at work…
    Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster. Admire them, emulate them, but don’t think you are meant to live their life… you can only do the best you can do. Life with kids who don’t sleep well is HARD so unless you can solve that (good luck, let me know, my husband is pushing sleep training so we can get our 11 mo old to sleep on his own, rather than beside me in the guest bed), I think you should think about setting more incremental goals…
    Also, the SAHM life is so hard to find balance. Now that I am back at work, I am so much more productive… but I’m not with my kid. It’s a trade-off. I too wonder how those top mom bloggers do it… but they may be making a sacrifice you don’t want to make- you never know. Keep us posted. And hang in there. It’s hard to be a parent, and to be a parent who wants to write!
    I feel the same way, but I’m (as usual) setting low expectations for myself- it’s gotten me pretty far in life. :)

  7. wow r amazing for keeping trying. i figure if it were easy everyone wud b doing it! i think this stage is hard but i never want to compare myself with other mom’s, because that is so depressing :( there is always someone better, faster, more witty, more organized, & better educated than me. i’m typing with my lil 5mo sleeping on my lap. sounds like ur an amazing mom, remember to embrace your uniqueness. we all have our strengths, yours is all over your blog!! xx

  8. It certainly can be overwhelming. I have 5 kids, 7 yrs down to 10 months. I homeschool the oldest two. My husband travels alot. Yes, indeed! It can be overwhelming. I try to blog, but certainly can’t keep up. I can’t even find the time often to know what I am thinking if you know what I mean! Jesus is my daily strength. Without Him I would be freaking out continually. I still freak out, but only for short occasional outbursts! :) Certainly every child is different. My 3 yr. old went through an awful stage where she would be awake from about 1 to 4 or 5am EVERY night. Basically my night was one nap, and a huge amount of frustration. Just as she would fall asleep and I would begin to doze off, my husband would be getting up, and off we were again for the next day. I am pretty strict about sleep, but I bent the rules and let her sleep on my floor. After a number of months this passed and , thank you Jesus, she is sleeping soundly in her own bed again! This too shall pass in time. Look to Jesus for your Joy and Strength and He will get you through! God bless you!

  9. For what it’s worth, I’m an overwhelmed mom of 2 with another on the way. I have found 2 big things to help & keep any amount of sanity I have left: letting the kids “cry it out” to learn how to sleep & hiring babysitters regularly during the day so I can have alone time. I went through sleep issues like you with my first child. I did lose it. It was bad. I still am effected by it.

    In asking mom friends of mine who had it more together, crying it out seemed to be the key. I put it off until I realized how miserable I was & how tired my son was. I was so deadset against it until I was ready to shoot myself & was so desperate for sleep & maybe even a life back! It only took him 2 nights & miraculously he learned to fall asleep on his own when we put him to bed & just like that a manageable sleep schedule naturally arose for naps & bedtime. However, he was only 10 mos old when we did this (I dont’ know how you’ve survived it this long). With our second, right at 6 mos, we did the same & she has been such a beautifl sleeper! When my kids get the sleep they need, they are so much happier. And so am I!!!! The book that guided me through this & forever changed my life was “Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep Habits.”

    In hiring help, I usually spend most of that time tackling the endless amount of housework that needs to be done, but at least at the end of the day the house is functional & I have a little more free time when the kids are in bed (by 8 pm!).

    God bless you! I truly do feel your pain. Just from the months I experienced it, I feel like I’m forever burnt out.

  10. Regarding the book, there is a section in there more specifically for toddlers & he might have a separate book for them as well. It’s got to be a whole differnt ballgame at that stage. Good luck!

  11. THANK YOU for being so honest and posting that! I was googling “resources for burnt out moms” and I can’t believe I actually found a blog like yours that talks about the struggles of motherhood. I am not a blogger, but most of the mommy blogs I read make me feel like a big failure. Without going into details, I feel like it’s hard for me to enjoy my time with my kids because I am sleep deprived, burnt out, stressed out and running on empty. I do my best, but I still feel that I fail daily. And when I read the blogs with the pretty pictures and stories and crafts, I feel exactly the same; “How do they do it?”, but also: “really? Seriously, there’s gotta be some tough moments, but why doesn’t anybody write about it?”. So thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. You made me feel a little bit better tonight :) I wish you the best with the sleep pattern. Those years are exhausting, but it does get better eventually (I have a 5 yr old and a 16 months old).

  12. I must be lucky because my son does sleep 10-11 hours at night, and usually 1.5 during the day, sometimes longer. And my husband helps when he gets home. Despite that, I still don’t do a ton of awesome stuff. I think mommy blogs tend to make everyone look like they are doing more, being more patient, and being more awesome, but really most just put the best stuff on there. Few are willing to admit that they screamed at their child, spent the day in tears, or haven’t cooked dinner for a week.

    But wow, three hours to get ready for bed? Our bedtime routine is much shorter, maybe an hour, but tiring, too, because at two years old, he still needs to be walked to sleep a lot of the time. *Sigh*

  13. Hi, I’m new to your blog but find it very interesting. My family lives in Norway and before that Austria and before that Nigeria… My daughter is 2 years old and I’ve found that as she has gotten older she does a bit better if she feels in control of situations. I’ve always been very strict with routines and she is a great sleeper but with our mobile lifestyle, flexibility seems to be taking shape in our household. Perhaps you can stop “trying” and let your son sleep as he wishes, he will get tired…just be ready to sleep when he does:-)

  14. Thank you so much for posting this! I did a google search for moms with kids who take forever to go to bed and your post came up! ;) I don’t have any advice except to say that I’m right here with you. I have a 3 year old and 14 month old and it takes me forever to get them to sleep. My 3 year old takes a 1 hour nap, but the baby rarely ever naps. It takes me hours to get the 1 year old to sleep and at least 30 minutes – an hour for my older son. Honestly, if the naps are a terrible struggle, I have to let them go some days. I cook mostly from scratch but can’t cook gourmet anymore. Just quick, wholesome meals. Use your crockpot. Roast a whole chicken, so it feeds you for two days. I try to get the kids outside almost everyday. It helps us all feel better. If you have to let something go, don’t clean as much. Just do basics like laundry and dishes. Vacuum once a week when your hubby is home. I’m exhausted. My 14 month old wakes up 3-6 times a night and is still up by 6 am. Just take small steps and choose what is most important for you. For me it is outside time and fresh, wholesome food. I don’t do crafts or blog. Many days, I don’t get a shower. When you have kids who don’t sleep, you can’t do it all. Do the best you can, choose your priorities, and know this is only for a season!

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