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Mad Hatter Mom

I read a story to my daughter, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud. It is a kid’s guide to daily happiness, which explains the basic concept of an invisible bucket to hold your good thoughts and feelings about yourself. I very much operate on this concept. I am happiest when I make people around me happy. When my bucket runs dry, not only do I suffer emotionally, so do the people surrounding me.

I recently called a time-out. Something had to give. My bucket had run dry. At work, the responsibilities and expectations were mounting with little acknowledgement.  At home, the responsibilities and expectations were mounting with little recognition. My bucket was running low and being distributed disproportionately between my responsibilities.

I found I was spreading myself so thin across all facets of my life, that what I was accomplishing was a lick and a promise to do it better next time. Not good for a goal-oriented high achiever. Little details were starting to be missed (also unlike me). Normally small issues were becoming mountainous obstacles. Relationships were being sacrificed. 

Emotions aside, my physical health was depleting as a result of this stress. For two weeks, I recorded all of the physical side effects I noticed had changed in the past year or so. I was appalled when that list hit 5, I was concerned when it hit 10 and I got scared when it hit 15. Time to call the doctor.

He was great, he listened, he empathized, and he acknowledged that I wasn’t alone. He said that he and his colleagues are seeing so much burnout from moms right now that they’ve lightheartedly coined a term for it – the Mad Hatter Effect. He explained that moms are wearing all of these hats, and they’re all operating in 6th gear, and the engine is starting to break down. 

As restrictions gradually lift, I am seeing more people, and sharing my experience with other moms. I am hearing the exact same feelings and symptoms; it was like they were taking the words out of my mouth. This is normal and a symptom of the new normal. We need to relearn that self-care is a priority. We need to fill our buckets.

Janet Smith is a proud single-mom of one daughter and a marketing professional who is grateful for her rural roots in the London area. She is a big believer in connecting with people through laughter and honesty.


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