When You’re Too Tired To DealJul 20, 2023
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I see a lot of moms burnout by the end of the summer, and while this episode isn’t specifically about burnout, it is about our capacity as parents and what to do when you’re too tired to deal with what’s going on with your kids.
As humans, we have limited capacity. Think of it like a 2-liter bottle. When the bottle is full, there isn’t capacity to add anything else to it. If it’s only half full, there is some space to add more liquid.
When we think of this same concept in motherhood, it applies to all of the demands and pressures there are on us. Sometimes, we simply don’t have the capacity to take on any more. And if we have too much going on, it’s going to overflow.
Today, I’ll give you some tools and tips on how to handle it when you don't have the amount of capacity that you wish you had, or you are not able to show up as the mom you want to be.
My Therapeutic Parenting Hack
My own parenting transformation began through working alongside my older son with an amazing therapist. She introduced me to the concept and tools of therapeutic parenting.
This type of parenting requires a very high level of intention and self regulation. And the truth is that it just isn’t possible to parent this way all the time.
The Calm Mama Process that I know teach and coach with is basically a therapeutic parenting hack. You calm yourself. You emotionally coach your kids. You're firm with your limits, let your kids make mistakes and let them experience the impact of their decisions with consequences.
When You're Too Tired To Deal
Even with a simplified process, there are times when you know what to do and you still can’t do it. Your capacity is low and you just don’t have it in you.
Maybe you’re busy. Maybe you have a big event or change happening in your life. Maybe you’re going through something emotional, grieving or healing. Maybe you’re ill or exhausted from parenting a newborn.
Whatever it is, I want you to know that there are periods of time when you won’t have the capacity to parent the way you want to parent. You just can’t show up. And that’s okay.
Here are some strategies to use to help you navigate that place.
Strategy #1: Be honest with yourself
Take a close look at what’s going on for you. If you find yourself yelling at your kids, ignoring their big feeling cycles or being really permissive, realize that it probably means that you don’t have the capacity to show up in the way that you want to.
Be honest with yourself in naming and labeling that feeling. Narrate back to yourself that you have low capacity, then go through and get clear on what you can and can’t do in that moment.
Strategy #2: Be kind to yourself
After you get honest with yourself about what you do or don’t have capacity for, be kind with yourself about the answer.
Accept where you are right now and remind yourself that it is temporary (all things are). If you want to serve cereal for dinner tonight, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to serve cereal every night for the rest of your kids’ lives.
Remind yourself: This is where I’m at right now. This is what I can do. This is all I’ve got, and that’s okay. There’s no need for guilt or judgment toward yourself.
Strategy #3: Communicate with kind compassion
If we want to hold our boundaries, we need to be able to communicate those limits and what our capacity is.
Moms often wait to communicate how they’re feeling until they’re very angry, overwhelmed or frustrated and end up dumping that negative emotion on their kids.
Then, boundaries often come out sounding fast, heated or harsh. I think this has a lot to do with not being honest with ourselves earlier on or giving ourselves permission to say no.
We can communicate boundaries more slowly, with love and understanding of other people’s disappointment.
You are allowed to say “no” to a request - whether it’s from your kid, partner or a friend. We often say yes when we really want to say no because we can’t handle the other person’s big feelings. The more you go outside of your boundaries, the more you’ll feel bitter and resentful towards your kids or partner.
It is okay for people to be angry with you, even though it can be hard to accept. You're not actually responsible for other people's feelings, and you don’t have to go outside of your capacity to make sure other people are happy.
It's okay to feel burned out right now, it's okay to say no and it's okay not to have capacity.
If you don't want to take your kids to the mall, don't. If you don't want to read books, don't. If you don't have the patience to ride a big feeling cycle, don't.
I want for you to have a lot more grace, kindness and love towards yourself. I want you to take excellent care of yourself so that you have capacity later.
- How my own parenting transformation began
- What to do when other people aren’t happy with your boundaries
- How to use neutral listening when you don’t have the capacity to handle your kid’s big feelings
- Scripts for communicating your boundaries with kindness
- Get to know my amazing therapist, Jeanette Yoffe
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