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Are You Doing Too Much?

Do you wake up and dread what’s on your to-do list?  Are you having a hard time quieting your mind at night?  Do you find yourself worrying or unable to relax and unwind at the end of the day? Perhaps you are like so many of us in the parenting world—simply DOING TOO MUCH!

Life with kids, whether you are at SAHM or a working parent, is messy, busy, wonderful and full!  As parents we have a lot of responsibilities on our plate.  Feeling overwhelmed at times is perfectly normal but when the regular things you do that once felt like a manageable load—work, carpool, errands, arranging Dr.’s appointments, planning birthday parties and attending volunteer committee meetings—starts to feel like more than you can reasonably handle, it’s a SIGN that it’s time to slow down!

Here are 5 signs that you are on your way to parenting burn out:

1.  Exercise gets put off.  Did you used to be diligent about working out but now there’s no time for it in your schedule?  When we get strapped for scheduling space on our calendar, one common way to free up a much-needed hour is to cut back on exercise.  We all know how great exercise is for both our physical AND mental health.  So, if you’ve been skipping your regular boot camp session, cardio barre, your daily run, the treadmill, elliptical, or canceling on your regular walk with a friend, try to make an effort to fit exercise back into your weekly schedule.

2.  Healthy eating habits go out the window!  After a long day at work OR at home with the kids, with a long to-do list lined up for the evening after the kids go to bed, it’s tempting to reach for the chips, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (my weakness!) or chocolate.  I believe in intuitive eating and in eating relatively healthy meals and snacks—what my friend and blogger Maggie Miller calls the “eat when you’re hungry” method.  If you’d like to learn more about this philosophy, check out http://www.eatwhenyourehungry.com  If you reflect on what you’ve been eating lately and you find that you’ve been making less healthy choices than you’d like, it could definitely be a sign that you’ve got too much on your plate.

3.  You find yourself running late all the time.  Running late is unavoidable at times as a parent—cars break down or you get stuck in traffic, your child throws up or you get held up at an appointment.  But, for some people running late isn’t an occasional occurrence but a chronic problem.  If you find that you’re always 15 minutes late (or more) to meetings, work, or to meet friends, this may be a sign that you’ve overcommitted yourself.  Lateness can also be a sign of being disorganized or being too optimistic about time.  Do you tend to underestimate travel time, work time, and deadlines?  Consider backwards planning and putting buffers in place so that you can arrive wherever it is you need to be on time and calm instead of feeling rushed and stressed.

4.  You find yourself micromanaging and anxious.  When things are relatively calm in your life, it’s easy to be flexible when plans change.  But if you’re doing too much, you might find yourself micromanaging at every turn.  If something unexpected occurs that needs your immediate attention and you start to feel a rise of anxiety or panic and you begin to think that your whole day or plan is ruined, then that’s a BIG sign that you ought to slow down, cut back and become a little more mindful about your time and priorities.

5.  You have a hard time saying “NO.”  If you feel like your life is spinning out of balance and you can’t remember the last time you said “no” to someone, that’s a strong sign from the universe that you’re doing more than you can handle.  Don’t be afraid to politely yet firmly say “no” when a request isn’t something you feel like taking on.  Saying “no” is okay and it’s healthy to set boundaries on your time.

Research shows that stress can cause a whole host of health problems including headaches, backaches, chest pains, stomach aches, sleep problems, and even weight gain.  When we’re stressed, we’re more likely to feel anxious, depressed and worried.  We lose focus and become forgetful.  So, take some time today to reflect on how you are spending your time and energy, what you are saying “yes” to and what you are saying “no” to.  As parents, we are role models (whether we like it or not!) and when we make healthy choices about the way we manage our schedule, we are teaching our children that living a balanced life is indeed possible!

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