I saw a quote online the other day that really resonated with me.
"Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honour. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy". - Joshua Becker
Saying no is one of the hardest things for me to do.
I'm a people pleaser and I like to help out.
I like to say yes.
I like to help everyone, with all the things, until there really is no more time to do anything other than worry about how busy I suddenly have become.
We all work to live, dreaming about the day we can live to work.
But how many of us these days take on so much more than what we first commit to?
How many are working a side hustle?
Trying to tick off boxes to impress others or just ourselves?
I know I'm my biggest critic.
If I let myself down, it truly is me that gets most upset.
If I build myself up, I feel proud.
This two-way sense of self goes both ways.
So in between working part-time, full-time mothering, volunteering for a local organisation, teaching aerial yoga, rehearsing for a dance show in December and another one in February, I find myself almost hunting out more things to add to my plate.
Should I coach a touch team? Why not?! Should I start to renovate something? Wait, let's just sell our house instead?
Do I get an innate sense of pleasure from potential burnout? Or do I simply like feeling busy, as a form of self worth?
I've got this really cool perspex oversized planner in my kitchen. With paint pens in all glorious colours, I look forward to planning out my family's month ahead so that there is no excuse for my husband to say you didn't tell me you had X, Y or Z on today?
By the end of filling it in however, it looks like the paint pens have had more of a Bali half-moon party and my scribble sprawls out across the planner filling in nearly every single day.
It's colour coded for work commitments, dance rehearsals, socialising, kids' sports and activities, functions and important dates.
It makes me feel slightly more in control to see it all in front of me each morning as I reach for my first coffee of the day.
It also makes me feel slightly overwhelmed and I know for a fact my husband still doesn't read it.
The biggest thing I have noticed already is that my end of October, all of November and most of December are practically full.
Nearly every weekend from now until Christmas is jam packed with children's birthdays, a hen's night, moving house, dance rehearsals, a 30th, a 50th, moving house, renovating and planning for Christmas.
The weeks are just as bad, working part-time and school commitments alongside the three summer activities my two sons have signed up for.
There literally is no more space in the foreseeable future to make any plans. It scares me how busy I am about to be and it also scares me that I can't fit anything else in.
I'm going to have to start saying no...
So, here are 10 steps I suggest to try to adopt to avoid burnout:
1. Learn to say no: Practise saying no to smaller things first and work up to others. It is strangely empowering to turn something down by prioritising yourself and your time.
2. Make time to exercise: Whether you like to slog it out at the gym or simply pop in some headphones and walk through the forest listening to music, make time to move your body.
3. Detox devices: Last week I bought three new books so that I can swap night-time scrolling on my phone with reading a fantastic book instead. I love reading but often it gets prioritised to the bottom of my list because it takes time to slow down and read.
4. Sleep: Regular bedtimes, uninterrupted sleep, day naps (if you have that luxury or in the weekend) and the odd sleep-in are excellent ways to feel better about coping with busy life.
5. Social gatherings: You don't have to go to every single social event between now and Christmas. Make an excuse or better yet be honest and put off any socialising that isn't absolutely necessary for you to attend, or ones that you just aren't that fussed about but feel you should go. Truth is, people understand and if you are too tired, you probably won't be missed or enjoy it anyway.
6. Limit your kids' activities: I let my children choose two to three activities each school term. Swimming lessons are non-negotiable for summer terms so three activities is max. I help them choose by days and times of activities as well as their interest. By spacing them through out the week, children don't get as tired and neither do you.
7. Keep one day in the weekend for your family or close friends: We are often busy on a Saturday with sports, rehearsals, social commitments and so Sundays are family days in our house. We often have home chores or groceries to do but we make sure we also do something all together as a family. A bike ride or adventure somewhere around Rotorua, outside if possible, and away from devices, TV and sibling squabbles.
8. Reflect and rewind: I find someone like your partner or close friend who you feel comfortable offloading on. Sometimes all you need is to talk through a problem or a busy time to make better sense of what is most necessary.
9. Remember that Christmas is only one day of the whole year: While I love the build-up to Christmas, I find the day often stressful, trying to manage everyone's expectations and family requirements. How can we make Christmas still just as special but also more manageable?
10. Recognise your triggers and the things that stress you out: Trust your instincts and how you are feeling when you are considering taking on new things. You won't let someone down if you are honest and say no from the start rather than struggling later as you battle on through towards burnout.
Whatever changes you make this in the lead-up to the busy festive season, don't be afraid to say no and prioritise yourself.
And if you see me running around like a headless chicken, you'll know I need to stop and take my own advice.