I’ve always been industrious, busy as a bee. As a kid, I could keep myself occupied for hours by creating art using typing paper, tape and crayons. As a teen, I stayed busy with homework, school clubs, music, and church. And none of that changed as a young adult.
Yet, I’m not a high-energy person. Type B through and through, I require quiet time to recharge and recenter. Otherwise, I’m a walking billboard for “Exhausted: Proceed with Caution.”
My natural way of operating in the world is caring for others by giving them a lot of my time and attention. When I became a mom , that modus operandi only intensified. Sleep deprivation? Whatever. In my overachieving-first-time-mom mind, I HAD to be sure our little one ate, slept and had clean diapers or the world would end. Literally.
So, I just kept going and going and going. Kinda like the Energizer Bunny, but without the benefit of batteries. My ever-so-thoughtful hubby, worrying more than a bit, would look at me and almost plead, “Karin, grab a nap. You. Are. TIRED.”
But, you’re a new parent like me, tooooo, I’d think to myself. You know as little about this parenting stuff as I do! I trusted our newbie parenting skills as far as I could throw an elephant. So, I couldn’t truly rest. Instead, I’d look at my loving hubby through bloodshot eyes weighed down with bags and reply, “Nuh uh.”
Time kept moving along, and so did I – usually in a fog of fatigue. When our daughter was 9 months old, we visited family at my parents’ home. My big sis, with kids of her own, fell instantly in love with our daughter – and saw the fatigue all over me.
“Give her to me,” she insisted, as soon as we walked in the door. “And just go rest. I got her.”
I knew my sis would know what to do if the baby cried, pooped, even managed a whimper. She was a safe and trusted harbor, a Jedi-level mom raising 3 older kids.
I almost ran to the bedroom, confident our little one was in the hands of a pro.
I’d discovered my Off Button.
I won’t even say how long I slept or how much drool I left on my parents’ pillows. But, to this day, it was one of the best naps I’ve ever had. I woke up smiling with renewed energy, able to be fully present with my hubby, our little one and extended family.
My life is still blessed with family, work and more. So, yeah, each day is super-full. I’m planning and executing and scheduling and transporting and cooking and cleaning and writing and editing. And thinking of it all when I’m not doing any of it.
I’m still pretty good at wearing myself out.
But, the good news? I’m better at pressing my Off Button when needed. I’ve come to trust that the world will not, in fact, fall apart if I stop being a busy bee and just rest. No alarm clocks. No itineraries. And no cell phone or computer use. I simply lie down, close my eyes, and instantly go into a deep slumber.
And, when I do so, I’m all the better for it. So are those I love, care for, and work with. Why? Because I return reenergized and ready to engage. My best self shows up. Not the snippy, too-tired-to-talk-laugh-or-smile Karin.
We all have moments when we need to push our Off Button. Being “On” most of the time– the pull of cell phones and social media, full work days, demands of others, you name it – can wear us out and down. Our brains, hearts, and spirits can only manage so much. We’re mere mortals, after all.
We all need an Off Button. Do whatever it takes to figure out yours – and then, when it’s needed most, press it.
Your Turn: What’s your Off Button?