As a mom, there are days when I wake up and I don’t even know where to start. I have so much to do and on top of it, my unpredictable toddler has woken up early and is demanding every ounce of my attention. Over time, I’ve developed a few strategies for staying sane through these struggles. If today is one of those days for you, you’ll appreciate these tips for the overwhelmed mom.
Tips for the Overwhelmed Mom
Never before have I been stretched so thin. In addition to running this blog, I run a Pinterest Management business over at JessicaPins.com, provide graphic and web design services on the side and recently took on a new part-time position with a Virtual Assistant company. Of course, the main priority in my life still remains being the best mom to my sweet little boy and wife to my husband who is horribly burnt out at work.
Despite the daily struggles of balancing it all and somehow maintaining my sanity, I know that this time in our lives is a transition into something better. I can feel it. We are on the verge of greatness. So when things get hard, if we give up and shut down, we will only be postponing our next step.
Every day I wake up with a workload that requires more hours than I actually have. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I was caught up on everything, aside from before I had my son. The only way to make it by and keep the weight of it all from pushing me down is to prioritize and accept the reality of the situation.
What CAN you do?
You can’t work more hours than there are in the day. And when I say “work” I mean whatever it is that you do. If you are a stay at home mom, “work” means momming and maintaining the home. If you work in an office, it’s used in a more traditional sense. Whatever it is that you do every day to maintain your home and/or your finances is “work”. Heck even maintaining some relationships can be classified as work! My point is that you need to have time off. You need time to sleep, eat, bathe, and relax.
Be realistic about the amount of time you have to offer and accept the fact that you cannot make more hours in the day. This is not your fault. This is just the reality of the situation. Stop feeling guilty about not getting it ALL done when you literally couldn’t have without sacrificing your health (which should never be an option).
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, shift the focus to what you CAN do.
What MUST you do?
If you’re a mom, it’s mandatory that you take care of your kids, right? Is it mandatory that you attend every play date or PTA meeting? no. If you work to support your family financially, it is more than likely mandatory that you maintain your income. That being said, depending on your job, it may not be mandatory that you work overtime or answer emails on the weekend to impress your boss. Evaluate what you absolutely MUST do and where you can cut yourself some slack. Are the consequences of not doing one thing worse than the neglect of another?
You MUST make yourself a priority
As I talked about in my post, How to Have a Balanced Life as a Mom and a Wife, you must start by making yourself the top priority. The funny thing is, this step becomes the most important when you have the least amount of free time. It’s all too easy to set aside your needs when life gets crazy to make room for the needs of your family, your friends or your boss.
Don’t do it. You can’t meet the needs of others to the best of your ability if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Make sure that your basic human needs are met before you tackle anything else. More than likely, you can accomplish this without taking much time out of your day and it will undoubtedly result in a higher level of productivity during your remaining time.
Know your why
When you are deciding what is mandatory in your life, it’s always a good idea to take some time to define your “why”. Think about why you do what you do. Why do you have your specific job? Or why did you make the decision to become a stay at home mom? Keeping this information at the front of your mind will help you to maintain perspective as you prioritize what aspects of your life are non-negotiable.
For me, being home with my son is non-negotiable. I might be willing to go to an in-office job if my husband could stay home with my son but we made a decision to ensure that one of us would be home with him rather than putting him in daycare and we aren’t willing to back down. If that means we need to downgrade our living situation or cut back on a luxury, so be it. Keeping this at the forefront helps with decision-making as we make major changes in our lives. It’s also a source of motivation to keep going when my entrepreneurial journey hits a roadblock.
HOW are you going to do it?
You know what you can do and what you must do, now how are you going to do it? Formulate a realistic plan and incorporate fail-safes and buffers. I’m a big planner so I tend to map out my days beat for beat. That being said, when things get really crazy (like right now) I tend to operate better on a goal list for the day. I simply cannot anticipate exactly how each day is going to go, so I highlight the mandatory tasks for the day as well as the tasks that I aim to accomplish if at all possible.
It’s also important to keep your long-term goals in mind. If your plan is to save a certain amount of money to accomplish a goal, maybe working overtime is necessary for a bit. But if you don’t have an end in sight, you’re looking at a burnout in the near future that could ultimately lead to a decrease in productivity down the road.
Related Post: Simple Time Management Strategies for Stay at Home Moms
Something’s gotta give
When you have too much on your plate, you may have to face the fact that something has to suffer. Decide what that should be in advance. That doesn’t mean trying to do it all isn’t worth a shot, but more than likely one area of your life will need to be moved lower on the priority list. And that’s okay. The important thing is to recognize what is least important and make sure that you focus on the more important items first.
If you don’t acknowledge this now, you may find yourself working harder on a lower priority item and accidentally neglecting a more important one. All too often this lands either on self-care or family time. When you’re boss gives you a deadline but you don’t give yourself a deadline on some R&R, the first response is to focus on the clear instructions you were given by your boss and neglect yourself.
Even if you aren’t running a business, a mission statement is an excellent way to stay on track. Know your mission and stick to it. What’s your household mission statement? If you and your family all share the same goal, you can all work hard to make it happen and call each other out when one of you is losing sight of the top priorities. If you know your “why”, creating a mission statement should be a no-brainer.
One day at a time
This has been my motto for a long time. Even though I am a planner, when things get tough, I always remind myself to take it one day at a time. What can I do today to move forward? Maybe you’re flat broke and can’t make this month’s rent. That sucks. I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. But what can you do about it right now?
Can you apply for a new job or reach out to a few friends to see if they know someone who is hiring? Can you cut back on expenses or sell something to at the very least get by this month? Obviously, the ultimate goal is typically not to just barely make it through the day, but in hard times looking at long-term solutions is often discouraging. It’s easy to fall into the “I’ll never recover” mindset, which doesn’t do you any good. Just power through, one day at a time, until you can get back on your feet.
For us, the most recent struggle has just been to maintain a positive attitude when we are overwhelmed. I am a natural optimist so when I struggle to stay positive, I know something needs to change. Whenever this happens I try to shift my thinking to what I am grateful for now and what is currently in my control.
Even when you can’t control the situation you are in, or the outcome, you can always control your attitude. As my father used to tell me when I was a hormonal teenager, “you, and only you, are in control of your emotions.” Maintaining mental stability and a positive outlook when life throws you a curve ball can help you to bounce back more quickly and keep an open mind to lessons learned and new opportunities that arise.
Know that you are not alone
When asking another mom how she is doing, how often do you hear “I’m great! I just wish I had more to do, I’m so bored.” I believe the answer is never. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have or if you work or stay home when you’re a mom, you’re busy, At some point or another, we all get overwhelmed. Anyone who claims they don’t is selling something.
If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a fellow mom. It doesn’t matter if their kid is the same age or if they are a grandma now. Moms know what’s up. Finding mom friends has always been a challenge for me, but whenever I do confide in a fellow mom, I always feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Someone gets it. I’m not alone. You can even email me if you need to unload your mom troubles! I’ll gladly respond.
Whatever you do, don’t struggle silently. Talk to your spouse, your mom, your friend, anyone. It’s okay to let others know that you are having a hard time. It doesn’t make you weak. You’re not a bad mom if you need a little help sometimes. In fact, it takes strength and courage to share and ask for help!
Hopefully, these tips will give you a jump start to getting a handle on your overwhelm and moving forward. I’d love to hear about how you cope with mom overwhelm! Share your own tips in the comments below.
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