“Production knew that she had been thinking about this so they were not surprised,” the source tells PEOPLE. “The most surprised are the cast, but I think they all understand that she is just exhausted and wants to try and do something on her own. I think she just is probably burned out.”
Polizzi, 32, made the announcement on Friday’s episode of her podcast It’s Happening with Snooki & Joey, acknowledging that being away from her kids while filming was “really, really hard.” She also said the show was “getting so dramatic” and that she didn’t like how she was being portrayed.
“The roomies disagreed with some of her sentiments,” says the source. “How can you go on a podcast and complain that there’s drama when this is a reality show? If there wasn’t drama, it wouldn’t air.”
Still, according to the source, Polizzi might not be putting her Jersey Shore days behind her for good.
“Everybody is saying she’ll be back after she takes a step back for a little,” the source says.
On her podcast, Polizzi explained that while she “can’t believe saying this,” her choice to step away from the MTV show, which originally premiered in 2009, is “what is best for at the moment.”
“I love you so much, and don’t hate me for my decision,” she said. “I am retiring from Jersey Shore. I am not coming back to Jersey Shore for season 4 if there is one.”
“The main reason is really … I just can’t do it anymore,” continued Polizzi, who shares daughter Giovanna Marie, 5, and sons Lorenzo Dominic, 7 and Angelo James, 6 months, with husband Jionni LaValle. “Literally, leaving my kids to film it is really, really hard on me.”
“I try and quit every single day,” she admitted. “I quit every time we film because I just hate being away from the kids. I don’t like partying three days in a row. It’s just not my life anymore. I want to be home with the kids. I don’t mind here and there going to a dinner or whatever, but it’s just really hard for me to leave the kids and film the show.”
Continuing, she explained that lately, the reality series has been “very drama” and “so serious.”
“For me, I don’t want that and I’m not leaving my kids days on end to film this show when that’s the result of it,” she said. “I just don’t like the turnout of it and I don’t like the person I’m being portrayed as. This is getting a little too much. At 32 years old and with three kids, if I’m doing a reality show I just want it to be fun and light-hearted, and lately, it’s not like that.”
That said, Polizzi insisted this would not be the end of her time on reality TV. “I’m not saying goodbye,” she said. “I just need to move on from the show because I don’t like the direction it’s going in when it comes to the drama and the cattiness.”
MTV has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The cast has not publicly addressed Polizzi’s announcement, but her costar and bestie Jenni “JWoww” Farley alluded to it on her Instagram Story with a photo from the show of the two hugging.
“Til the end…#rideordie,” she wrote.