Being a parent and a Police Officer or First Responder no easy feat. The guilt that goes with the missed milestones and social events.
Then over time on the job the shift work and stress takes its toll. You to struggle to fall asleep, wake mid sleep, become so exhausted and with that you find you become more easily frustrated with others.
It’s hard to keep up the facade
Unfortunately or fortunately, when the short fuse starts appearing we are often able to keep it under control outside of the house in the beginning. But once we walk through the doors into our safety zone it’s hard to keep up the facade.
I remember closing the door behind me and often having to rest against it to hold me up because that was the point where I allowed myself to stop faking how bad I felt. That door frame into my house was where I let the real me come out.
Family often gets to see the ugly side
Unfortunately my kids and husband live there too, so they ended up experiencing parts of me that others never got to see.
As much as I wanted, rarely did I have the energy to play with them. Getting things done around the house took so long with my foggy brain. Turning on the TV was easy, because then I could lay on the couch and do nothing. And the guilt after I’d get short with them for asking a question.
Believe it or not, I feel more guilty about it now because I didn’t see how bad I was then. Now I have the energy to play with them. And they aren’t afraid to ask me questions and we enjoy our time together.
I didn’t realize . . .
When I was in the depths of my burnout I didn’t realize how much my kids were affected. I didn’t think anything was wrong with me sitting on the couch and turning the TV on because I had zero energy.
Now I see how happy they are when we kick balls at the park, they tell me more things. I know more about their day now, than I did when I was sitting on the couch and not very approachable.
It’s not selfish
When I first started reversing my burnout I was of the mindset that doing things for me was selfish. Many officers I speak with feel the same. They are always helping others, but stopping to take time to recharge their battery so they can be a happier, calmer person that their family likes to hang out with seems selfish.
It’s crazy. But so many of us, myself included have struggled with this.
Why is that?
I truly don’t know the answer as we all have different histories that got us to where we are today.
Break the Cycle
If we don’t break this cycle of thinking that it’s selfish to to take care of yourself, then you can not help others to the best of your abilities. Even worse, your kids learn this cycle and repeat it themselves.
Learning that their mom or dad is not who they should be confiding in because they are too busy or too tired.
They start to avoid mom or dad when they need help because they are afraid of how they will react.
They see that their mom or dad never take time for themselves or ask for help. So, when your child is overwhelmed or needs help they keep quiet, hold it all in and continue on.
The motivating factor
Honestly, that is my motivating factor. Making sure my kids get through life with the best skills possible. And that is what helped me realize that taking care of myself was not selfish. It allowed me to be a better parent and wife and get my life back to where I am happy and healthy. Spending time with my kids, teaching them skills that I had never learned growing up to better prepare them for life.
To me that is not selfish, but another way that I can give to others.
It’s not always easy to change how you have always done things. If you are a Police Officer, First Responder or immediate family member of one you are more than welcome to join my 911 Stress Management community where you will realize you are not alone and learn how your sleep, energy, short fuse, digestion and other stress symptoms can be reversed without overwhelm or taking prescriptions.