Coaching Corner Q&A: "I need a fresh outlook."

Originally published Thursday, 27 September 2012.


Welcome to Dr. Ann’s Coaching Corner!  This week, CB writes in to get a fresh outlook on her multi-tasked-out life.  Is this what “Mommy burn-out” looks like?

Dr. Ann,

I am 35 years old.  I have been married eleven years and we have two boys, a nine and seven year old.

My current situation is that I am working full time at my church (which I love.) My husband works here as well and my children go to school here.  It is a blessing that the whole family is in one area. However I am a bit overwhelmed.

As my boys are getting older, school is getting more demanding and my husband and children always come first.

I find myself overly tired from trying to balance husband, children, work, home (cooking, cleaning etc), family and friends.

To the point that I am moody all the time, and I am tired of being moody. I am currently not working in my field (Psychology) because I took this job at my church which I felt the Lord had led me to. But now, forty plus hours a week later, I don’t want to work any more. I want to stay home and be a wife and a mother and a homemaker.  We do, however, need the income. Can you guide me or help me?  I need a fresh outlook on this.

Thank you.

CB, Executive Assistant

Dear CB,

The picture you paint is painfully familiar to many of us.  I think we need to coin a new term:  “Mommy Burn-Out.”  (And it still counts, even if your kids now call you “Mom.” ) Every mother can instantly recognize Mommy Burn-Out in fellow travelers.   Although the warp speed of modern life affects everyone, I truly believe that being a mother heightens the experience.

You’ve described a busy life schedule!  You have a full time job outside the home, and a full set of lives to care for inside the home.  Like you, many of us find ourselves overwhelmed caring for lots of needs around us.   Even the pets come to us when they need something!

The question here is:  Are you (and by that I also mean “we”) taking enough time to take care of yourself?  

I don’t mean to suggest that you withdraw to a fairy tale world, where everything is lollipops and rainbows!  Life is busy, and often hard. There are times when we don’t have the choice to change the work before us.

However, no matter what is on our plates, we must set apart something for ourselves.

With so many people’s needs clamoring for our attention, how can we justify setting something apart for ourselves?

  1. Because of the law of diminishing returns.  When we continue along the same path without a break , our efforts eventually become ineffective.
  2. Because Jesus set Himself apart. He retired from the crowds and mission to refuel with prayer.
  3. Because no-one will set time apart for you.  The only one who will do it is you.

So here are a few tips on How To Set Something Apart For Yourself:

  • First: on the weekend before your week starts, get to a quiet place in your house.
  • Then: spend a few minutes visualizing your important priorities for the week.  They should not simply be all the urgent tasks. They should be important. Your top priorities should include the things that matter deeply to you. (Hint: urgent usually involves tasks.  Important usually involves people.)
  • Last: make sure to schedule in at least three of those things for your upcoming week.  On an actual calendar!

(You may be thinking: “What?!  Schedule in three things? Didn’t I write in because I’m already overscheduled as it is?!”

Yes, you are booked!  But having a schedule full of busy work is a completely different experience than having a schedule filled with things that are deeply important and rich in meaning to you.)

One of those things should be an item that brings you a sense of joy and renewal.  Is it time spent going for a walk?  Is it a half hour with a great book, or a nice cup of coffee?  Is it a quiet prayer time of 5 minutes in the mornings?

Over time you can increase to the amount of “set apart time” that is just right for you.  “Just right” means the amount of time where you find yourself noticeably more refreshed than previously.  You may even want to keep a journal of your progress.

Although I was hoping it would happen, time is not expanding!  Instead, we must commit the time to renew today.  Remember: no-one is going to do this for you.  (Otherwise it would have already happened!)

You must be the one to do this yourself.

In summary:  the signs and symptoms of Mommy Burn-Out may be an chance to change some old habits for better ones!  Ones where we carve out the time to care for ourselves.  Ones where we spend time with God, who is the one source of true rest.

Extra bonus Mom Points:  We have more emotional margin for our spouses, we set a great example for our kids, and we’ll be healthier for it.

May this be a great beginning step for you!





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Dr. Ann is a M.D. who writes, speaks, and coaches.  Her mission is to empower women in life and work! Coaching With Dr. Ann is syndicated on, and has been featured on BlogHer.comMichaelHyatt.comFox news, and Good Morning America.  

Copyright Dr. Ann 2012

(photo credit: dharmasena)