Monday, April 19, 2010

Avoiding Burnout

This post is a result of several conversations I've had over the last few weeks. Conversations about soaking nuts, about following certain diets and cleanses, about how to help your children get on board with healthy eating, and about comparing ourselves to what other people are doing. I have heard many women say it is just too hard... that no one can do it all... and, is it even worth trying if I can't do as much as Supermom on the next blog?

I've been thinking about what our family does health-wise (for particulars, read this past post)... and why we do it the way we do. I'll step out on a limb here today and share my thoughts with you.

Health Matters. Life is such a gift. Each day is a wide-open opportunity to do something big. Being a good steward of our health, our life-ness, is very important. I mean, why not be fueled-up and strong for accomplishing great things... us as moms AND our husbands and children. Let's live big, bold lives!

But, realistically speaking, can we eat everything healthy all of the time? Maybe if you are superwoman. Or maybe if your family is still very young. Let me explain...

We used to eat 100% healthy all the time. It was hard work. Very hard work. I only had two children and was not yet homeschooling. I prepared everything from scratch, soaked all our grains and legumes, even our nuts, made lacto-fermented foods, and the list goes on. But I saw two things happening.

First, we were causing some minor divisions between ourselves and family and friends. You see,
some people just didn't feel like they could prepare food "good enough" to have us over. And some people felt belittled by our health-fanaticism, even though I don't think we ever pushed our thoughts on others. (We're actually very introverted people and avoid conflict like the Black Plague... or H1N1.)

Second, I was starting to really burn out. All that time in the kitchen. Always thinking days and weeks ahead in order to have everything prepared. And, I was about to deliver my third baby. Homeschooling was really picking up with Rainbow... and soon Spiderman would follow. There was less time in my day for food. Have you ever experienced burnout? Both with the thoughts of all that has to be done and with future thoughts of everything just getting busier?

Those two issues were big on my mind. But so was health. Wellness was still a major priority for our growing family. I wanted to give my children every bit of the gift of health as possible. I had to bring some reconciliation to the mental discord... how could I balance it all?

Fast forward... we now eat a very bold 95% perfect. And I still consider us very healthy. Everything we eat at home is on target with our health principles. (Eat what God made. Eat it as close to how God made it as possible. Everything in moderation.) But we do leave the house. And there are times I cannot take all the food we need with us.

There are times that we have to let our ideals go a bit. Like, for example, at a basketball banquet where the menu is pizza and cake. If we were fanatics we wouldn't go. But a basketball banquet is a monumental event for a young boy! Or, if we were extremely fanatical, we would go and take our own food! I can't imagine how that would make my children feel...

So, we attend and allow our children to eat two pieces of pizza and a piece of cake. (And serve a big Greek salad before we leave as an appetizer to fill a good portion of their tummies!) We teach moderation. That it is okay to have an occasional small-to-medium portion of otherwise unfavored foods. However, we do not use a basketball banquet as an excuse to load up a plate of desserts or drink massive quantities of soda pop.

Same thing with our weekly church pot luck. We simply do not make a big deal of the food. Our children know that they are only allowed one small dessert. And we have seen them make very wise choices about their food selections. (I get food for my younger girls.) In doing so, we are teaching some very valuable life lessons. As soon as you have liberty, you don't just let all your self-control and wisdom fly out the window. I seen my children exercise good personal decision making skills. That gives me hope for the future.

We have decided to not let our food choices create social divisions. Honestly, I don't think the small percentage of less-than-nutritious food is going to ruin our vitality. For the vast majority of the time, we eat nutrient dense foods. We also take high quality supplements. The occasional unhealthy compromise won't be our demise. However, inability to be temperate might. Children (and parents) need to have enough strength to exercise moderation.

And about the burnout... I realized somewhere around the time Witzy was a baby that I simply couldn't do everything. (I still try.) I needed to cut myself some slack. And it was much better to have a happy mommy than to have a mommy who stressed over every meal. So, we eat as best as we can with the time and money resources we have. And that is that. No fretting over what we can't do.

I would like to encourage you... whether you are new to the health game, whether you are a long time health nut (respectfully said), whether you are still searching through diet options... but especially you mom's with growing families... Do your best. But don't stress over the rest. (Have I told you how much damage stress can do?)

For your health, for the long-haul,


Carrie Beth said...

Thanks for this post- so easy to be wracked with guilt since here is always more that we can do as moms...I love working at teaching our kids healthy habits and practicing them myself as much as possible, but I am thankful for the Lord's grace when I fall down or we just cannot make it happen.

Ilse said...

Thank you for this beautiful post...

busymomof10 said...

Thank you for this post! It is so easy to burn out trying to "do it all!" I believe that your stance shows a lot of wisdom and grace. I have been around folks in the past who consistently alienated people for the sake of their rigid dietary rules and regulations. The kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking . . .

I think it is very wise on your part not to make a big deal out of what your children eat when out and about. your philosophy about how they handle liberty shows a great deal of wisdom and discernment!

Many blessings!

busymomof10 said...

I know I just left a comment -- but I have more to say! ;)

I think you read Michelle's blog -- anyway, this post dovetails nicely with her recent post:

As homeschooling moms of many, we are trying to wear so many hats at once! It can be very overwhelming and exhausting, and definitely leads to burn out for many. Some will give up healthy eating, some will give up homeschooling, some will sacrifice their health or evern their marriages . . . It is really impossible To DO IT ALL.

Your post is very freeing, that it is OK if we are making strides to improve our nutrition, but not doing it all perfectly. Thank you!

Amanda said...

This is so encouraging. I really needed to hear this today. Thank you. :)

Jessica - Go Green Health said...

Thank you... I have made social situations with family less than what they could be by being so strict. THANK YOU!!!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I so appreciate this post! My sister (Jackie, Cheesemakin' Mama) is an incredible health nut. She makes everything from scrath, does the whole fermented thing, ect. She has two kids and can do that. I used to feel guilty about not doing that for my family of eight. Not anymore... I consider myself a "compromised health cook". I enjoy the more natural side of health food, I supplament as much refined sugar as I can with raw sugar, sucanat and honey. Also, I usually do half whole wheat and half white. I don't like the density of the whole wheat and my family complains. They don't know if I use whole wheat pastry flour in my baking.

I go to her house and it is like a foreign land. I love what you said about the division. I feel really self-concious about having her family over. She doesn't mean to judge, but I know how much she believes in eating healthy and cooking naturally (no microwave) that it's hard not to think about what she is thinking about when I put the butter in the microwave to heat it up!

We have talked about our differences and are OK with that. But I think it is a good point that you brought up about not judging other busy moms for their lack of healthier choices. We can encourage them gently and with some easy suggestions for starters, but healthy eating to the degree that you mentioned can be outragously expensive and time-consuming.

Kristi Lea said...

This was a good post Amy! I think it relates to a lot of things in life. Strive for your best, because it really does matter, but don't stress over the shortcomings. Stress is horrible for our bodies, minds, hearts, loved one's, co-workers, it goes on and on.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

This is an excellent post!!! We try to eat healthy, but I've drawn the line at soaking my grains (at least for now). Maybe someday, just not right now with a small children. When we go out or at family or friends house we eat whatever is served. I feel the same way. If we are eating well at home, than it isn't going to kill us to eat some unhealthy foods now and again.

Again, great post!


Tonya said...

Ahhh, I needed to read this! Thanks for the encouragement. GREAT to see you yesterday!

Mommypotamus said...

Love this post! I have a two year-old and our second is due in September. After eating a SAD diet though my childhood my health was failing by my early twenties. When I learned about the research of Weston Price I made HUGE changes in my life and now enjoy excellent health.

Because I know what poor diets can do I am somewhat fanatical (at least my friends think so), which is why I LOVED this post. I love hearing about the progression from young children to basketball banquets. I hope what my children learn at home will prompt them to make the same good choices yours have when given more freedom. Thank you for bringing some balance and perspective.