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Those with large families, full plates... avoiding burnout

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How do you do it?


I only have four children, but all five of DH's brothers and sisters have lived with us at some point since I was 19. They were all high needs teens, most moving in with us at around age 13. The last is about to move out on his own.


In the last couple of years I have begun to feel a little tired. I can't seem to do as much with each child as I once did. This is a big problem, because now we are talking about my own dc. If I am unable to get past this, I will feel like I have cheated them. I used to be so organized. We read books during breakfast, played games together, had one on one tutoring time with each child, discussions about books, library trips every week, and then had bed time stories and singing every night.


Now, I have to really push to get motivated and find myself falling behind or even forgetting about things. I want so much to be the spectacular mom I remember, who did it all and even baked cookies with the kiddies. Instead I feel like I am on auto pilot. Up until now I had been fighting it off, but I finally think it is beginning to show. As in, I think the kids are noticing that mom is not 100% in. Burn out is here, or just around the corner.


We are only in the middle of the school year, so I need some encouragement. word of wisdom, and anything else that might put some pep in my step.



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You can also teach toward learning independence. Some moms make the mistake that the more they do, the better they do. It's not really true. We're here to get our kids to learn. I have a small family, but I also work from home.


My son is 90% independent now and is really taking responsibility for himself this fall, which thrills me to no end. I'm teaching my daughter toward the same.

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Schooling year-round and taking breaks whenever I felt like it was what worked for me. But your situation sounds like a little more than burnout. A child leaving home (any child) is a major change for most people. A kind of grieving process to work through.


Based on what you've written, if it was me, I'd take the rest of December off (and maybe part of January) to vegetate, think, do nothing or fun stuff only, mourn the last kid leaving, and finally reorganize and plan. When I did longer breaks like that, I began them by explaining to the kids that we were taking a break and they were free to continue working on any school they felt like doing, or not (except for Bible - ongoing in our house). But when I said it was time to start back I'd better not hear any moaning or groaning or we wouldn't be able to do this kind of thing anymore. They understood and cooperated because they enjoyed the time off, too.



I wish it was this, but dh and I are thrilled to be done. It has not been an easy road with his siblings. They all arrived with behavioral problems, no knowledge of English, and not being accustomed to rules of any kind. We both worked vary hard, made many sacrifices to our careers, living situation, and money wise. At the same time, we endured meddling from his family with no financial help. Years ago, we even had to move away from the city his aunts and grandparents live in.


Without going in to much detail, I think it is a combination of burnout and lack of regard or respect for what we have done. Now that these kids are older, they have this attitude that it was nothing special, because DH is the oldest and that's his job. They pay lip service, but that is about it. Anytime a need comes up, they think it should all fall to us. I guess we just are feeling that our hard work has not bared fruit. Obviously, my head knows they are better of than they would have been, but seeing them revert back to the examples their mother gave them, and her same attitude of entitlement and "it's all about me", is very hard for us. For me, I think if they acted differently, it would make me feel more encouraged, give me the feeling that my hard work meant something, and that the sacrifices were worth it.


I don't really know how to put it in to words.


I think you are very right about needing to take some time off. Thank you.

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Have you had a physical recently? Had bloodwork done? It sounds as if you've been under a lot of stress for a long timej!


I agree that you should take a nice long break - enjoy your family! Take some time to heal - emotionally & physically!





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I am only 34. My own children range in age from 2-13.


Fairfarmhand, I know what you mean. I really want to give my little guys my all, and I think I did so much more for dh's siblings and my oldest. I don't want my children to feel as though I gave more to others than them. KWIM


Anne, thank you. I have not had a physical yet this year. I did start running again, because I felt I needed something for me.


I am just hoping it's a minor bump that will pass.

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WRT to the siblings of your dh.


I can understand how frustrating it is to feel that all the passion that you poured into them is met with indifference. So so frustrating. It probably makes you think, "why bother?? Noone really cared that I read stories to them, helped with their homework and tried to make their lives better." I've felt the same way with my oldest dd who can be (as is typical of some teens) rather self-centered. I sometimes feel that all the work that I do to make things fun for her, take care of her and sacrifice for her is completely unnoticed. But the moment something doesn't go her way or is unpleasant for her, look out, it will not be overlooked. It will be loudly proclaimed to the whole household!


However, I've had to take a step back and go "Okay...so what if I never get a thank you. I am doing my job to the best of my ability because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO."


I also think of it in terms of this: I never realized how much my mother did for me, how deeply she sacrificed, how hard being a good mom was until I was in the middle of it with my own kids. That appreciation, that snotty self-centered know it all attitude may not disappear until my dd has her own kids. I tell her often, "When you are the mom, you can do things the way you want and maybe you will understand where I am coming from" Perhaps your dh's siblings are the same way? Maybe they won't ever understand, but if just one of them does would that make a difference?


Take a break to refocus.


Perhaps you need to change your homeschooling style and find something that you are excited about. Don't compare apples to oranges though. Maybe you don't have the energy to do everything exactly the same for your youngers as you did your in-laws and your oldest, but that doesn't mean that your younger kids will suffer. Maybe you don't have the energy for baking cookies and cleaning up the messes, but you could color with your youngers, be a better listener (I know I take more time to listen to my younger kids than I ever did my older kids), make new traditions, take more time to cuddle, do puzzles or play games.


I am 33. In the last few years I find that I don't have as much energy as I did in my late 20s. I think also it is because handling a large group of kids in my family takes more energy. My teen can be very emotionally draining. My pre-teen is just beginning the puberty angst.


I also found that in the last few years, I need time alone at church and with certain friends to feel upbeat. Any way, those are my thoughts and I hope that they help you a bit.I am sorry your in-laws are so obnoxious. It must be hard to disengage when you want so much more for them than they want for themselves.

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How do you do it? .... I want so much to be the spectacular mom I remember, who did it all and even baked cookies with the kiddies. Instead I feel like I am on auto pilot. Up until now I had been fighting it off, but I finally think it is beginning to show. As in, I think the kids are noticing that mom is not 100% in. Burn out is here, or just around the corner.


We are only in the middle of the school year, so I need some encouragement. word of wisdom, and anything else that might put some pep in my step.



I don't know how I do it, and sometimes I don't do it well, so keep that in mind as you read my advice. :001_smile: I think it's perfectly normal to change parenting style a bit as you get older and have more children. Sometimes auto-pilot is good enough. If you remember being a fantastic mom who did everything perfectly in the past, it's good to keep in mind that memory sometimes starts to slip with age. ;) But... if you are feeling bad about not making cookies with your kids, then by all means-- make some cookies with them!


I enjoy baking cookies around Christmas time, but to be honest, sometimes it's exhausting to bake cookies with my kids. I dread making cut out cookies. So...instead of doing the most complicated and difficult recipes that I dread, I pick the cookie recipe carefully! I make it something easy, or something that gives the kids each a task to do. Rice crispie bars--super easy!!! I throw some seasonal colored m&m's and the kids think they're special. One homeschool friend taught me the easiest recipe for making little "turtle cookies" with young kids--small pretzel, topped with rolo candy, melt in oven for about 1-2 minutes and add a pecan on top. That's it. The kids' job involves unwrapping the candies and counting. A variation to that recipe involves pretzel & melted candy Hug topped with an m&m.


If you want recipes with more work, find work for the kids. Try old fashioned hand tools and let the kids grind nuts or sift flour--those activities exercise small hand muscles they need for handwriting--and the kids have fun! Lots of our Christmas cookies need to be rolled into balls--so the kids take gobs of dough to roll into balls, (of various shapes and sizes, lol, I had either to lower my standards or reshape the balls when they weren't looking.) Not everyone "helps" everytime. Sometimes I start and whoever wants to join me can. Sometimes they take turns so I only work with 2 or 3 at a time.


When it's not Christmas cookie time, I may find ways to tie the cookie baking into school and then do it as part of our school day. Last year when we studied geology, we made various cookies to represent the types of rocks we were studying. (ie layers bar represented sedimentary rock, etc.) One year it we had "cookie math day" and counted chocolate chips on cookies to represent multiplication facts. Our history studies often involve food too. Baking cookies doesn't take nearly as much energy as some school days! And while it sounds like and is fun, it can also be seriously educational.


As Christmas approaches, next week I will cut back on how much book work we do and include more Christmas preparations--including cookie making. I hope at least one of those ideas helps you. We don't have to do it all and what we do doesn't have to be done perfectly. Good enough is good enough.

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