Signs You’re Working Yourself Too Hard

Anyone who properly cares for children works hard. It’s a world of sacrifices and rewards, but there’s very few mothers who don’t sleep well once the angels are tucked into bed. I’ve never lain around wishing I’d been busier on a particular day. But there does come a time when you realize that having a freelance career, and in my case a daytime career, on top of the business of parenting is pushing you to the limit. While most people might cite evidence such as rising blood pressure or all-nighters, those of us playing mom (or dad) and professional in the same existence all day long throw off different warnings signs. Here are a few I’ve spotted around my house.

My Christmas tree is up, my presents are wrapped and they are all under the tree waiting for Christmas.

Sadly, I’ve had this setup since the Friday before Thanksgiving. You may be wondering why this is a bad thing, and it’s all in the reasoning. I’ve been shopping online in bits and pieces and picking up items over the course of the last six weeks anticipating my Thanksgiving holidays. Once the holidays arrived, the boys and I got the tree up, we got the house decorated and every night I wrapped another batch of presents after my online work. (I have the final batch tonight).

I did all of these things weeks before most everyone else because I work harder than most everyone else. I know full well that the only days I’ll have to pull out a tree between now and December 17th (when the Christmas holidays begin) are weekend days. And pushing off decorating until a weekend in December makes it one-more-thing-to-get-done-by-Monday, which is never fun. Why bother waiting until the 17th? I should just skip it at that point. So I set up Christmas now so that when I have an hour of blessed free time here and there over the next month, I can actually enjoy a bit of the holiday spirit around me without stressing over creating the atmosphere.

I prefer cookie dough to cookies.

Okay, I’ll admit I’ve always had a slight preference for the dough over the cookies - salmonella be damned. But lately things have taken a new angle. Giant rolls of dough were on sale at the local Kroger. I bought up a few for holiday baking. (Yes, I do that sporadically and have to plan ahead for it, too.) I cut off a chunk of the dough for my sons to play with to make “cookies” one afternoon, and I had a chunk left in the fridge.

It’s embarrassing in hindsight, but last night when I was working like a mad woman, I wanted something sweet. The boys’ cookies are all about squashed messes of sprinkles and not particularity edible. Unlike a normal person who would have taken the five minutes to slice and bake real cookies, I just sliced. That’s right. I was too tired and busy to even think about baking or the dishes that would inevitably follow. So I cut a hunk of that dough off the roll, and ate it like a block of fudge. Not only was it immensely satisfying for this mama in a stress-relief sort of way, it was delicious. Why ruin a good thing with an oven, pan and spatula that would have to be cleaned later?

I stopped exercising…again.

I was so good for a week. After I got the boys to bed a few weeks ago, I carved out thirty minutes to do some power walking on the treadmill upstairs before showering and settling down to work every night. Unfortunately, after about four days of this I was exhausted. It turns out when you “carve out” thirty minutes of time in the evening, you’re really just pushing things off by thirty minutes. This affected productivity which made me slower and slower. Eventually I was going to bed almost an hour later every day.

When you’re already averaging only 6.5 hours of sleep a night during the week, an hour is huge difference. Did I love the exercise? Absolutely. Would I still be exercising if I could go to bed at a decent hour? Sure thing. Am I exercising anymore? Nope. Yet another sacrifice of the lifestyle I lead, but I’m bound and determined to make it all fit again someday soon – probably after that cookie dough takes its toll on the scale.

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Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

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5 thoughts on “Signs You’re Working Yourself Too Hard”

  1. Have you tried exercising in the morning? I find that the excuses pounce the longer I take to exercise. Also, maybe you should try doing only 10mins at the start. 10 is better than 0. You could break the 10 mins up e.g. 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening. If it’s easier, just try and be more active during your day-to-day life. Walk instead of driving. Take things upstairs one at a time (of course, be reasonable with this). Play active games with the kids.

    I must cosign the second point, but I’ve always preferred the dough lol.

    At least we have the holiday season to remind us of how important it is to slow down and take a good look around before we burn out.

    Anyway, thanks for a great writing post.

    • I used to do mornings, and they were great. Now, I have a special mommy problem. Two little boys wind up in my bed in the morning and they get up when I do. So if I’m up at 5 for a bit of exercise – so are they! It’s a nice problem to have in terms of snuggling and lovable moments, and my time for exercise shall come – I’m sure of it.

  2. Spot on, as usual. Kudos for the whole tree and presents bit (I’m a bit envious) and sign me up for the cookie dough fudge-style treat. YUM!


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