Self Care When Your Tank is Empty

It’s so hard when you give and give of yourself. Every ounce of energy and attention goes to your family; there’s nothing left for you. I get it and I’m so sorry it’s happening to you! I’ve been there and it was so hard. When I wasn’t crying I was yelling. My children were slightly afraid of me. Of course they were! They had no idea what to expect in any given moment.

It wore me down. I can imagine how worn out you feel right now, and I’m so sorry you’re in this place.

adult alone black and white blur

These are classic signs of an empty tank, empty cup, empty love bucket. Whatever term you use, this is what it looks like when you are completely run down and need self care before you’re capable of caring for anyone else.

The good news is you can get out of there. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll take some hard work, but not as hard as you might imagine! When things are this bad, you need self preservation in order to give yourself enough energy for self care. First, lets find out where you need to protect yourself right now.

What Empties Your Tank

The first thing you need to do is figure out what really wears you down. Look back on the last 48 hours. Think about those moments clearly. Which moments leave you feeling the most ashamed? Write about those moments (if writing is too much, jus think about them clearly). Be sure to include what happened right before the moment of shame happened. Often those moments leading up to whatever you feel ashamed of are triggers. These triggers cause emotions to build heavier and heavier until you can’t carry them anymore.

For me, when these emotions get too heavy, I yell. Not even words. I wave my arms around and make strange sounds because my brain can’t articulate what I’m feeling. I really understand why small children find this frightening, here’s a grown woman so filled with emotion that she can’t think. And we’re the ones supposed to guide them? HA!

The point is. I get it. I don’t know your exact situation, but I’ve felt overwhelmed. I’ve sat on the bathroom floor and cried.

There are so many people in your life that want to help. Often we become so worn down we only feel and see the things that bind us tighter, we don’t feel, or hear, or see the things that lift us up.

Prevent Triggers

Now that you’ve found your triggers. I want you to look back on the last 48 hours and think about what you could have done to prevent yourself from triggering in that moment.

Your children asked for shows a hundred times. Even though you had a headache and knew the tv would make things worse, you said yes to get them to stop asking?

In this case, I’d suggest noticing your headache earlier, if you can take something, take it. If you can’t take something, let your children know you have a headache and let them know what you need. Maybe you need quiet. Can you turn their show on in one room and you lie down in a different room? Or when mine were small enough that free reign of the house was dangerous, I set up the bedroom so it was safe for them (everything was bolted down or attached to the studs in the walls so nothing could crash). Then I let them watch quiet shows or play, while I napped. It made a HUGE difference in my ability to parent once I gave myself permission to sleep! I could sleep through anything when I was confident they were safe.

There are so many different solutions, I’ve thought of one. You may think of a better solution for yourself. If not, feel free to reach out and give me more information. We can brainstorm and find a solution that works.

Get Creative

adult book boring face

You may need to do things you think other people find weird. That’s okay. Get creative! The point is to find a way to support yourself and give yourself space while doing the tough work of parenting.

Do you need more sleep, but you have a toddler that wakes up and gets into everything?

When my 3rd was small I was so tired. I loaded all the kiddos into the van, Drove onto a small low traffic hi way and as soon as they were all calm, I pulled over and napped. They were strapped in, and I could nap because I knew they were safe. I could sleep through their noise in the van, but at home I knew they weren’t safe so I couldn’t.

When I needed sleep, I used the tv. By the time my oldest was 2.5 she could work the tv and DVD player. She’d turn on shows for her and her sister while I slept. Then when I woke up, I had enough energy to be calm, loving, and do many fun things with them.

Sometimes mothers believe they need to be awake if their children are awake. I say, make your space safe and sleep.

 

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