(The title is based on a Dutch tv show, about chores in the house and the garden)
As a man in the house, I thought it was my job to do the garden and all kinds of chores. I could: stick tires, mow grass, keep hedges, paint door, a shower edge kitten etc. I didn’t turn my hand around for that. And for my burnout, that was no problem at all.
I also liked doing chores with others. Helping once a Saturday with a bathroom, a garden, roof, you name it. No problem for me.
Now, with the burnout, it was different. I found myself with no room to do even the simplest jobs. I just couldn’t see what needed to be done. And when I did something, I quickly noticed that:
So that was very disappointing and was different than before.
After sitting at home for a while, I had thought of tackling the children’s rooms. Painting walls, wallpaper on them, changing beds, etc. At first, this seemed to go well. But after about 3 days I started to get abdominal pain (stress) and I noticed that it was too much in my head.
Eventually I got the rooms finished but I had a lot of trouble with that for a few days afterwards.
So, I also had to look here at what had to be done differently.
How that went, I describe below.
What I started to think about is that not only the chores came to me, but also the associated worries around it. And that I was often doing things where I took the worries away from someone else. As a result, it ended up with me.
If our son had a flat tire, I would stick it. If our daughter wanted to have a closet painted, I would. If the grass was too high, I would mow it. If a bathroom had to be demolished somewhere, I was there. You name it.
I had (unconsciously) created a situation where my environment was used to me taking on most of the jobs and making sure it was solved. Also, that they could call me to do a bigger job and that I was there. And here too I had the feeling that the pleasing had sometimes gone too far.
That had to change. More in balance with my new situation.
We have done four interventions to change that.
The first thing I started with is putting the problem where it belongs. If it is the case that I am the one with the problem, then it makes sense that I solve that myself. If someone else has a problem, it’s their problem in the first place and not mine. If my son has a flat tire, that’s really his problem and not mine. Then it is quite reasonable to ask him for a solution. Instead of me doing it. This resulted in a bit of awareness about who the problem owner is.
Secondly, I started to broaden the problem. In other words that I went to see if we can tackle the problem together. Perhaps there are people who want to cooperate in the solution. So that we can make it a joint project and not all the pressure falls on me. So, refurbishing a children’s room, maybe one of the children can help. Or mowing the lawn, my son can do that too.
We also started outsourcing problems. A flat tire can easily go to the bicycle repair shop, sweeping the chimney can do a chimney sweep, washing the car can be done in the car wash (including cleaning inside), etc.
Thirdly, we have started to ask ourselves whether every problem needs to be solved. If you don’t mow the grass, not much happens. Except you have tall grass. If you don’t wash the car, you’re in an unwashed car. How bad is that? You name it.
Finally, I stopped helping others. I already had no energy left. And then also to do jobs with others, I could not afford that (also read the piece: The healthy environment).
For some people, that took some time getting used to. At once, people couldn’t just count on me anymore and they really had to look for another solution. That was a real change with that situation before the burnout.
These changes have given me a more balanced relationship to chores and gardening. Where I started to please less and involve more people in the chores that are like there.
The pressure is now largely off my shoulders. And I’ve grown to a better situation.
The confidence in doing chores is largely back. But with the restrictions that we have implemented in the changes. As a result, I am still involved in chores and the garden, but more often as a spectator.
What is positive?
Most jobs seem urgent, but they are not. Maybe you feel pressure from the environment to tackle something or to do something. But it is often not necessary. So, they don’t have to, especially now. If something must be done, see if you can outsource it, but don’t do it yourself!!
Don’t give up!!
Now that you have a little more time, it can be tempting to do that (jobs). Also remember here that your energy is still depleted and that even simple jobs require a lot of energy. After all, you must start thinking, plan and then implement it.
The bigger jobs like breaking down the bed, painting the ceiling, tackling the room, etc. cost a lot more energy. Not only during thinking, but certainly in the execution, be careful with that. You must go to the hardware store and take the wrong screws with you. Or you forget that aqueous paint and turpentine-based paints don’t go together, etc. It gives so much unrest and clutter that is not wise.
Also have a handyman come or a friend / family member. That seems like a good idea but can cause stress. You need to consult with him about how, when and what. Your daily rhythm is broken. It gives noise and hassle. Maybe the result is disappointing and what do you do? You can just get from the rain into the drip. That means: things can get worse.
So, it’s important to take a step back here and ask yourself what’s wise. Then you can come out well in the long run.