I received a comment the other day from a sister wondering about burnout. She raised a number of very valid points--points in fact that I would have completely agreed with "back in the day". Her comment was this:
wow...talk about a never ending job! Your sooooo well organized...mashallah, but sis dont you ever get bored or tired of the never ending cleaning? How is your body and skin holding up? I know the 2 years I was at home it was hell for me, the everything rote routine of cooking and cleaning was just too dulling for me to get into, infact it made me really-really-really depressed, I hated waking up in the morning cuz I knew I had to cook, clean, cook and clean some more...yuck. I hated it. How do you handle that sort of life? do you ever get fed up and tired from the routine? How do you stay mentally alert? Do you look forward to each day?
wow...i am in awe thought...i guess your a born housewife...I for one, am definetly not. LOL. I hope your family appreciates their superwoman mom and wife!
Do I ever get bored or tired of the never ending cleaning? Well, of course I get tired of scrubbing a floor and then finding a quart of milk spilled all over it 5 minutes later... I think anyone would and it has required me to develop patience. But, I do think its important to remember that every single job has its frustrations and monotony. Even the most exciting jobs can become monotonous in their excitement. I know a man who buys and "flips" distressed properties for a living, and a good living at that. He makes much more money than he would make at an office job and by all accounts his is an exciting job. He gets to go to auctions and can meet with Realtors over coffee or lunch if he desires. He scopes out distressed properties and envisions their potential. Shopping for design elements at Lowes or Home Depot is part of his job. Sounds exciting and enviable? It is, and for a long time he loved it... but this man has considered going back to school and getting his degree in a more mundane field. Why? Because the adrenaline of the auction, the excitement itself, has become monotonous and he wants a 9 to 5 job.
I have never know anyone that was not frustrated or bored with some aspect of their job. That's the bottom line and that's the truth. Nurses get frustrated with doctors, doctors get frustrated with their patients. Lawyers get exasperated with other lawyers. No one is immune. The point is, when you see your job as valuable and desirable, when your occupation is truly your calling, your mind causes you to look past the frustrations and rewards you with that "I love my job" feeling.
There are very, very few days that I actually don't look forward to getting up in the morning... and those are mostly due to having stayed up too late the night before! I obviously can't speak for you personally, but I do believe that many women who don't enjoy being a stay-at-home mom feel that way because they have either tried it and were not given the appropriate support by their spouses or because they have somehow gotten it into their heads that being a "housewife" is boring, tedious, and un-rewarding. Many Western women of my mother's and my generation and socio-eceonomic class were raised on the Free to Be You and Me mentality. Nourished with a steady diet of Mary Tyler Moore, Melrose Place, and the Cosby Show we knew that we wanted nothing less than a chic wardrobe and exciting career. Cosmo and Vogue in the 80's were filled with attractive career women wearing Vertigo suits. I believe that this is in many ways a cultural perspective, not unlike how Western women of my generation see an extraordinarily toned size 4 as the ultimate physique--we absolutely cannot fathom how other women can actually strive to have a size 10 figure.
I think if you look around, you may even find that the tables are turning. Before I had my first child, I worked at an Elementary school in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. There were still a few mothers who worked full time as doctors or entrepreneurs, but not as many as you would think. With the young upper-middle-class mothers at that school, the ultimate lifestyle was to be a stay at mom. Were they educated? Yes, very much so. What did they do with their educations? Charity work. Part time work (one doctor, my "room-mother" actually, was a very well regarded pediatrician and used to work part time). Impart their education to their children. I know one mother, a lawyer with an impressive resume and a degree from a tier 1 law school, who works at home for a few years until she gets frustrated, then she works outside the home for a few years until she gets frustrated. Rinse. Repeat. She hasn't achieved the financial goals that many lawyers strive for but she knows in her heart she has an illustrious career on all fronts and she is pleased with her life.
Now, like I said, I can only speak from my experiences and my perspective. There are a number of women who are truly not suited to be managers of their households, who are so miserable in the career of full-time motherhood that they bring the morale of the whole household down with them. There are women so uniquely gifted in specific fields that it would really be nothing less than robbery for them to keep their talents to themselves. And, of course, from an Islamic perspective, it is obligatory among every nation as a whole to ensure that certain necessary positions are filled.
Ok, on to the next question: How do I stay mentally alert? Caffeine.
No, just kidding (well, just kidding 95% of the time). I stay alert and engaged by always trying new things. New meals, new organizational methods. I try new workout routines, study new supplements and topical actives for the skin. I look into new science experiment to do with the kids to supplement what they are learning at school. Sometimes I'll do some research on a specific subject for my husband. When my kids are sick, I research on their symptoms before we go to the doctor--when we get home, I do more research on the diagnosis so that I can understand what's going on. I'm very interested in health and holistic fitness and currently spend a lot of time researching bio-mechanics and functional fitness.
How are my body and skin holding up? Well, that's kind of personal, but (again, personal opinion) how well a women's body and skin hold up depend on a few factors: her nutrition, her care habits, her rest habits, and her heart. Nutrition is undoubtedly a cornerstone of a healthy and youthful body and face, with supplementation being essential in today's world of depleted soils and unbalanced diets. Care habits include a personalized fitness regime and appropriate topical skin and body care (including cleansers, exfoliants, creams and serums with proven active ingredients, and moisturizer/oils). Rest habits include both proper sleep and relaxation activities: contemplation, yoga/ stretching, massage. Everyone has 24 hours in a day and everyone can include a reasonable amount of time to achieve their health and fitness goals if that is their priority.
What does the heart have to do with it? Everything. From a physical perspective, a constricted and stressed heart, and this includes emotional state, will not circulate the blood optimally. It is imperative to the health of the body and the skin that the blood circulates well: blood transports oxygen and nutrients to cells and carries waste products and toxins to the appropriate organs for removal from our bodies. From an emotional perspective... let me share with you the following personal experience. Some days I wake up with too little sleep. I'm not completely exhausted, but tired enough to be cranky and frustrated. My day progresses a little off kilter and I'm not in a great mood. My mind mulls the situation over: This is just not right. I need more sleep than this. I deserve more sleep than this. Coffee just isn't enough. A friend stops by and sees my tired, drawn face and comments "You look terrible. Is everything ok?" Other days I wake up with too little sleep. Again, I'm not completely exhausted, but just tired enough to be cranky and frustrated. But my heart is at peace. I'm grateful that I slept in a bed instead of under a bridge. That I was awakened by my baby's painful tooth not bombs or warcrafts. That I have fresh milk and coffee to perk myself up with. That I'm able to serve my Lord without even having to leave my warm home. A friend stops by and sees my cheerful face. She comments "You look great. What's your secret?"