Last week I staged a “jail break” from my daily routine of caring for my beloved family by attending Journalfest, an annual fall arts conference that takes place at Fort Worden state park in Port Townsend. I returned to my family feeling renewed and I must admit, before I left for my break, I was pretty burned out.
If you're also feeling burned out by the daily grind of parenting, you are not alone. Lake Forest Park psychotherapist and grandmother Elizabeth Clark Stern knows the feeling.
“The parenting journey is relentless in its joys and its demands,” Clark Stern said. “No one can really prepare you for it, no matter how many books you read.”
What are some signs that you need to take a break? Clark Stern says the symptoms of “mom burnout” run the gamut: sleeplessness, eating too much or too little, irritability, outbursts of crying or rage, lethargy, exhaustion, feelings of worthlessness, resentment, envy, anxiety, depression, and loss of interest in sex or “quality” intimate time with your partner.
Sometimes you can go into “overdrive,” getting too perfectionistic about the care of the baby, housework or being a “perfect mom.” Or you can simply feel unexcited about life, not caring what you look like, what you wear.
If you are fried, Clark Stern says it is time to take a break. To begin taking more time for yourself, you can start small. Get a massage or facial at In Spa in Redmond or Issaquah or take some time to paint a ceramic piece at in , while your partner or a grandparent wrangles your children.
Need a break with a child in tow? Check out the Orange Blossom Society in Redmond where you can relax with a cup of coffee or take a class while your child plays or takes his or her own class. Or head over to the Kid’s Cove play area at and visit with a friend while your kids play.
Would you like a Friday evening off? Make a reservation for your child, ages three and up, for the monthly Friday Parents Night Out program at . This month’s is coming up this Friday, Nov. 4. Your child will be entertained with fun and games and even get a pizza dinner while you catch dinner and a chick flick. Museo Art Academy in Issaquah also offers a monthly “parents night out” program, Pizza and Picasso, every 3 Friday of the month.
Blocks of time
When you have the luxury of a whole morning or afternoon away, check out the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, located about 30 minutes from Sammamish via Hwy. 202 or I-90. Book any spa treatment and you’ll also enjoy use of the spa’s beautiful soaking pools and steam rooms. Visit the Salish's website for monthly spa specials and deals on accommodations and dining.
Or once the snow arrives, grab a friend and head up to the Nordic Center at the Summit for some cross-country skiing. The on-site rentals and lessons make it easy to get started having fun in the snow that day even if you haven’t ever skied before and the center is located just over an hour from Sammamish via I-90.
Graduate to taking a weekend away — alone, or with friends. You don’t have to hop a plane to get that “getting away” feeling. Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum and Skamania Resort in Stevenson often offer weekend spa retreat specials that allow you to relax in beautiful surroundings and enjoy great deals on spa treatments.
If you are on a tight budget, you can still escape by offering to housesit while a friend is on vacation or traveling on business. Set yourself up for uninterrupted movie watching and reading some great books not by Dr. Seuss.
Renew Your Pursuit of Neglected Hobbies and Interests
Take time away to pursue a neglected passion, such as art, yoga or kayaking. In addition to the fall Journalfest conference, many creative eastside moms also attend Artfest, the spring arts conference also in Port Townsend. Discover Yoga in Redmond offers weekend retreats on Whidbey Island. During the summer, you can take a kayaking class on the beautiful Columbia river in Richland through Columbia Kayak Adventures. They'll even arrange to take out a group if you want to go on an all day kayak adventure with some friends. Outdoor Odysseys on San Juan Island offers three-day guided Women on Water (WOW) trips for beginner to advanced paddlers.
When you take the time to recharge your own batteries, you’ll be a better mom and your family will be happy to have you back, relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next parenting challenge.