When exhaustion hits, choose to be present

I don’t know how realistic it is to assume all parents feel like me at times. But I do believe, more often than not, most of you do.

It is inevitable, as a parent, to become exhausted. I’m not talking about the 8:00pm, kids are finally in bed, I’ll just lay down for a minute, never to get up again, exhaustion. Yes, this nightly battle is very real, but not the type of exhaustion I’m talking about today.

The exhaustion I’m talking about is much deeper. It’s the feeling that you just can’t do anything more. You can’t think beyond the moment that’s currently unfolding. Work is the heaviest weight you can imagine, just sitting on your chest. Planning a vacation to relax and recuperate is unbearable. Any extracurricular activity is a definite no. I’m talking FaceBook, Instagram, games, talking to a friend or family member, intimacy with your partner. Even a relaxing bath is not in the cards. Nothing. Because you are so overwhelmed with an exhaustion that keeps you in a state of haze, and getting out of bed is only possible because you must care for your children and do the things to keep your family afloat.

This exhaustion is heavy.

Maybe we all have different versions of it. Maybe some of us end up in this place more often than others. Maybe some of us recover quickly, and others not so quickly. But no matter how you experience it, it can be so very hard, and you can feel so alone.

Please know, you are not alone.

I don’t believe there has to be any one precipitating factor. I just believe, as parents, we push ourselves well past burnout, and then keep pushing further when everything inside and out tells us not to.

As many of my readers know, I am not idle. I work full time as a nursing instructor. A job I love. I also recently left my second part time nursing job to be home with my family, only to start two small businesses as side hustles. One on my own, one with my husband. I also really took time to connect with myself to discover my personal self-care needs, which no surprise, is writing. So, I’ve decided to write more. This means I’ve been writing children’s books (not published) and I’ve been working on writing a parenting book (much like this blog).

Because of the constant state of moving, and thinking, and going, and thinking, and thinking, I’ve been hitting the state of burnout and exhaustion more often than I choose to admit. I know deep down my body is telling me to back off. Really, the things I want to do, all at once, are not sustainable for my health and well being.

And the healing component? My family. Truth is, when I just can’t go any further, my children lift me up and show me the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband encourages me to put the phone away. And we set out on a family adventure, or create family time, where we can all just be present. And once I’m there, in the presence of my family, without any interjecting factors, it’s amazing. It’s grounding. It’s completely healing.

Truth is, there’s something to be said about what my body, mind and soul are trying to tell me. This time with my family won’t be here forever. I need to cherish what I have, and let off of the accelerator a bit. I love the things I do, and I could never give it all up. But I need to put my family at the center of it, and know that it’s okay to slow down.

It is okay to slow down.

If you know all too well what I am feeling, regardless of how you’ve gotten to your state of exhaustion, know you are not alone. Remember that we are all unique. We are all experiencing very real emotions, and very real fatigue. And at the heart of it, we are experiencing very real love for the little humans that are leading us on this journey. It is enough to slow down for yourself. But when you feel slowing down just for yourself is not enough, remember those little humans. They are definitely worth slowing down for.

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