I get overwhelmed easily, particularly when we’re in transition periods – like right now – between summer and the school year. Have you ever noticed that we don’t use “whelmed” as a middle stage between “overwhelmed” and “puttering along peacefully?” This despite the Middle English origins of “overwhelmed,” and whelmed looking like it is, very much, in fact, able to be used on its lonesome.
whelm (ʰwɛlm, wɛlm)
v.t.[1250–1300; Middle English whelme, appar. b. dial. whelve (Old English gehwelfan to bend over) and helm 2(v.) (Old English helmian to cover)]
1. to submerge; engulf.
2. to overcome utterly; overwhelm: whelmed by misfortune.
3. to roll or surge over something, as in causing it to submerge.
Munchkin is attending preschool this year and I am, sad to say, probably more thrilled than I should be. It’s a wonderful school and I think he’s going to be very, very happy there. They follow some of the principles behind unschooling … basically, building lesson plans and activities around what the kids are interested in. There are two rooms with 3 to 5 year olds in them. Last year, one class started out the year interested in the ocean… so they decorated everything with an undersea theme, and then the room gradually transitioned to the jungle and then became an enchanted forest. Munchkin goes two days a week and I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for him to grow and make new friends and do new and fun things.
Along with my excitement though, I am forced to face this about myself… I think it will be good for him because I’m not sure I’ve done the best for him I can, or that I’m cut out to be an entirely stay at home Mom. His social activities were sharply curtailed this summer as Elf’s naps stabilized into morning and afternoon times. We tended not to go out and do things during the heat of the day, so although I planned playdates at home or during that magic afternoon hour, we didn’t get out as much as I’d hoped.
In this, I think I am selfish. Elf is very cranky if he doesn’t nap and his schedule is messed up for more than just a nap – it lasts at least overnight. And I am not a happy Mama when I am sleep deprived (more than usual) and dealing with a crabby baby – so I prioritized Elf’s naps over going out and doing things. But consequently, Munchkin has not gotten as much time to run wild in parks and burn off energy as he otherwise would have… so he’s amped up at home. I’m looking forward to two days a week where he can burn all that energy off at school!
Additionally, I’ve got enough other things on my plate (purging all the things, regular cleaning, getting the school items gathered, preparing for my December art show) that I am constantly evaluating which fire must be put out first. Last week I cleaned so much that I was completely drained by Thursday… and there’s still more to do. Believe me, sitting down to write this only made the top of the list because I’m also trying to make self-care a priority.
My recharging activities, thankfully, are often things that I need to do anyway. Sitting down to create something is often the best kind of boost – the problem is letting go of feeling guilty that I’m not doing something else deemed “more” necessary. That goes for more mundane self-care rituals too… warm baths, a walk, picking up a book… I strong-arm my guilt reflex by reasoning that I am a better mom and wife and friend if I take the time to rest and calm my mind, but it’s not always easy to do that.
I’m interested in knowing what your self-care rituals are… and how you escape the guilt! Or maybe you don’t struggle with guilt – in which case, share your secret!