What to do when you reach your limit?

As the question mark in the post title suggests, this is not an advice article. It is a genuine question.

I’ve been back at work part-time now for almost three months and am finding the plate spinning harder and harder. My patience is at an all time low. I’m in a constant state of stress; I’m snappy, irritable and hot-tempered. I think the nature of my job doesn’t help – I’m a Year 1 teacher, thus spend the beginning of my week being closely followed by small beings and repeating myself endlessly and my days “off” with my own kids being closely followed by small beings and repeating myself endlessly. I’ve forgotten what personal space feels like, and I am someone who needs personal space like I need oxygen (almost).

The guilt ramps up every Thursday, when I have very little left to give to my own kids and spend more time than I’d like sitting them in front of the TV – an “activity” I reason is totally fine because they’ve spent three days in a sensory overloaded nursery environment. And it probably is absolutely fine. I just feel I should be doing more (as do most mothers, I would imagine).

Then, at the weekend, when there are opportunities for family fun galore (!), all I really want is for my husband to take the kids out so I can sleep, or work. Or try and sleep whilst thinking about work.

Last weekend, Ben was away and I decided to take the kids to a lambing day. How idyllic it would be! All the little lambs frolicking! My children pointing and giggling and generally loving life! I blame the sun – it was such a beautiful day, it instilled a false sense of optimism in me. Anyway – turned out, the whole of Kent decided to go to the very same location. WE HAD ALL BEEN CONNED BY THE SUNSHINE. The population of Kent and I all moved together as one giant mass through the lambing shed, whilst my children demanded mini cheddars.

They spotted a little carousel. I wasn’t sure the littlest, at 20 months, would sit still for a whole ride but paid the fare nevertheless. As I said – the SUN. Sure enough, after about two and a half rotations, she started pointing to a different vehicle on the carousel and standing up. The ride operator’s hand hovered anxiously over the emergency stop button. I had to run round and whip her up as the ride continued. She head-butted me in wriggly anger and I had to use all my strength to channel peace, love and calm (whilst muttering FML, FML, FML over and over in my head).

They continually darted off in different directions and my sanity ebbed away from me with every minute that passed. We rounded off with a tractor ride before trying to find our car in four million acres of field. As we joined the departing traffic, I asked my son “Did you enjoy that?” and he nodded, smiled and said “Yes. I did.” I allowed myself a second to smile myself. Only a second, mind. Because his next breath was “But I don’t want to go back there ever again.” Well, you and me both kid.

So. I am, indeed, near my limit. I feel like my iPhone in that the battery is always around the 12% mark. I forget to charge it and then give it only enough just to get it up to 20%. And then away the battery drains again. THIS IS ME! I don’t remember a time when I was at even 40%.

How do you recharge? Or do I just have to wait til this all passes? And then feel guilty that I wasn’t making the most of every sodding second? Answers on a postcard, please…..


Trying to remember what personal space feels like.


10 thoughts on “What to do when you reach your limit?

  1. theverybusymummy says:

    I totally feel your pain. My advice plan some time away with you and your husband. Me and my hubby went away for a few days in February and it really made a difference. We began to feel like us again. We missed the kids like crazy and talked about them all the time. Being a working mummy is tough but you can’t do it all. Even if you just have a planned night out with the kids sleeping out so you can let your hair down that would work.
    Do you have a hobby? Getting out of the house one evening a week helps too.y weekly social life is going to a Zumba class 😂


  2. Ms O says:

    Same. Sad there was no golden solution! But v reassuring. Some of my teaching colleagues have a ‘8-5 only’ rule. If it doesn’t get done in those hours, they don’t do it. I just work until 11 every night. Not healthy. I also don’t check work emails on days at home because I’m bound to read one that needs attending to and then I’m snappy at the kids. Oh I don’t know! Teaching is only helpful when there are school holidays. Other than that, it’s basically the least family friendly job. I read in the papers a few weeks ago that, other than CEOs, teacher work the highest number of unpaid hours. What a job!


    • theidentitythieves says:

      Agh – I am so the same with checking work emails when I shouldn’t. And then one of my kids being like “Hey, mummy do you want to play pirates” and me being like “wha? I CAN’T I HAVE TO SORT OUT THESE PHONICS GROUPS NOW!”. Fun. I don’t want to be a teacher who counts down the hours til the next break, but it’s what I’m doing now…. Hope you get respite during the Easter hols! xx


  3. Kajal Allen says:

    Hi, I honestly have a great deal of respect for working mummy teachers, I love my job in healthcare and really enjoy getting away form the children.
    My kids are a little bit older (5 and 3) so school and nursery and work life changes dynamics a bit, but I recall the days when they were both young and I trul, truly dreaded the ONE day a week I had them both. Yes, it was ONLY ONE day a week. it’s really FXXXing hard to be a working mummy and I’m much better trained and qualified as a pharmacist than I am a mummy.
    Okay, given that the title wasn’t a rhetorical question, I have some fairly mundane, boring coping mechanisms. My note pad is my life. I buy fun little notepads and nice pens from Home Bargains. The front of the book is work stuff and the back of the book is home stuff. AND EVERY THOUGHT OR PLAN OR IDEA OR TASK HAS TO GO IN IT. thats all really, just write it down. Helps to not feel inundated with all the million things swirling about in my head. Immunisations, birthdays, bills to pay, stuff to buy (as I rarely go into town), all has to go in the book. I like this much better than my phone, I love writing stuff down.
    Next one is not so easy to achieve but if it can be done, I say go for it, don’t feel guilty and don’t look back. Pay for a bit of extra childcare so you have about half a day to yourself. Weekly, or fortnightly or occasionally. If you know that you have this time, either to catch up with stuff or do something you like, it makes you happier and much more able to cope with everything else.I would say the same with (if option is there for you) same for Dads taking kids out on the weekend- make it a regular thing and then you all know that’s the plan and it will make family time so much better. No offence to any of the hardworking Dad’s out there, but if Mummy is at the helm of the family ship, she needs to have time to plan, rest and just be. It keeps family life well oiled.
    Argh, I know this sounds like a silly thing out of a naff magazine article, but drink water, regularly. We are often so poor at looking after ourselves, time just doesn’t allow. But this helps in so many ways, I won’t even bother to explain as you already know the score.
    Sending the love,


    • theidentitythieves says:

      Kaj, thank you so much for such a lovely message. I much prefer writing stuff down – I started bullet journalling (perhaps you do it too?!) a year ago and find it really therapeutic. But, like most things at the moment, it’s slipped and i’ve ended up attempting to carry the list of stuff to do in my head. Which. Does. Not. Work.

      I have Easter hols coming up and the kids will stay in nursery three days a week – cannot tell you how excited I am!!

      And you are so right about water. I 100% know I’m not drinking enough – gin, yes… water, no.

      Totally get your feelings on having the kids for the one day. I feel the same (hello, extra guilt).

      Always so nice to know you’re not alone.

      Thank you x


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