I'm currently enjoying some well-deserved time off. As a high school teacher I typically work 60 hours a week. I teach 40 hours and plan and grade for probably another 20, give or take. I also write. In other words, I work non-stop. My busy schedule doesn't mean my family takes care of themselves, though. Someone still has to cook, clean, shop, take the kids to their appointments and activities, and everything else that's involved with running a household. And while my husband is amazing, as an overworked mom I still need a break. No matter how much of the responsibilities my husband takes upon himself, I still do the bulk of the work. While I make dinner, he occupies the kids. While I clean up after dinner, he bathes them and puts them to sleep. We're a team, to be sure, but I'm still the one who basically runs the household, making sure all appointments are made, all doctors are visited, all homework is finished, and everything runs smoothly.
I've often felt burned-out. I've had legitimate panic attacks from being overwhelmed and overworked. I've passed out at 8:00 p.m. every night for a week because I was utterly exhausted. I've neglected my responsibilities because I couldn't fathom doing anything at all.
Being a mom who works outside of the house, a teacher, and a writer is truly exhausting. And, sure, I could give up the writing, but then I would be losing another piece of myself to parenting and I am just not willing to do that. Something else has to give. So, I need breaks. I need mental breaks and I need breaks from my family and my job. I take mental health days off during the school year and schedule girls' nights out during the week. I find ways to give myself a break because when I don't, I become a ball of stress and quite unpleasant. I also stop saying what I mean, so if an overworked mom in your life says she "needs a break," she's probably already passed the point of exhaustion and, instead, is really saying the following: