Managing Overwhelm When You Are a Crazy-Busy Mom
Why is it that when things become too much our instincts tell us to shut down and…you know: make things worse?
I slipped up on the self-care a bit last week. Sickness overwhelmed our house, followed by an extremely rare girls wine night and that was it. I was thrown off. I spent a day sleeping while my husband took care of everything, and I came out….way behind.
Days like this are just another reminder of why Self-Care is SO important, for me and for my children.
Skip ahead to the tips below if you aren’t interested in my life story 😛
I don’t mind 😃
Things that are overwhelming me right now:
- My house is trashed. My husband has great intentions, but to him cleaning means removing things from closets so he can organize them. And leaving them in the hallway for three months. Not cool. It also means focusing on the “neglected areas” and ignoring the everyday chaos. The result: dishes, laundry, and toys everywhere. It’s so bad, that I keep looking at it thinking: I NEED to do this..and then going to eat a cookie or ten. I just can’t.
- I have a GIANT paper due next week. I DON’T WANNA. Did I mention that? This has to be done..soon. It just has to, somehow.
- My four-year-old seems to have forgotten how to dress himself. Seriously kid, why why why! I know it’s an attention thing and a reflection of my current can’t handle life state. I get that. Which of course contributes to that whole failure as a mother thing that just loves to pop up when I’m not at my best.
- My business is doing well. I know, doesn’t sound like a bad thing right? It’s not, I’m thrilled! But, the timing is a little scary. I have SO much going on and a successful business takes more time than an unsuccessful business.I don’t want this one to go away, but it’s definitely overwhelming me.
- Smaller miscellaneous responsibilities that can’t wait: I need to finish continuing education credits to keep my CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) credential within the next two weeks, I have a super flexible online job I’ve been neglecting, I have two grant proposals to write, and I have three meetings next week to work on building my non-profit. Did I mention I also have children?
So if you are feeling anything like me,
I have some tried and true steps to get back on track.
Give them a try, you’ll be rocking life again before you know it.
Managing Overwhelm when there is just too much
1. Wallow and breathe
If you need to wallow mama, wallow a while. Rest in the feeling. Embrace the panic for just a bit. This might make you feel worse but really feel it for a few moments, and BREATHE through it. I’m a firm believer that sometimes when we are feeling crappy, we just need to feel crappy. We need to listen to ourselves for a few minutes. Cry if you need to, complain to a close friend, lay in bed a while. Just wallow for now.
2. Write it down.
See what I did up there ^ Yeah, do that. Write it out. Panic for a moment. Get it all down on paper or on Evernote or wherever you write things. Get it out. Do a brain dump and a master list of things that are stressing me out. I don’t care if it’s something you have to do right now or in a year. If it’s stressing you out, write it down.This does a few things 1) It gets it OUT, this is important. There is power in putting something into the universe. I feel this is particularly effective with a pen and paper. 2) You have a list of what you need to do. So if you are in panic mode and don’t know where to even begin. You can just pick something there without going over the whole list in your mind over and over trying to figure it out.
3. Move It
Excercise, sweat, heart pumping, move your body. Get some endorphins flowing 10 jumping jacks, an hour long workout, 5 minute dance party with your kids. I don’t care just do some cardio mama.
(Note: I’m not a doctor, I don’t know your story. If there is any reason not to excercise don’t. This is not medical advice and proceed at your own risk. ❤️ )
4. Calm it down
Yoga, meditate…both? Bring it down a notch and find your center. Breathe reflect and focus on you. Headspace is my favorite meditation tool. If you aren’t a meditator (is that even a word?) you may be surprised about the difference that a 10 minute session can make in your life. This is my all time 100% effective favorite overwhelm relief.
My meditation and yoga practice help me to separate myself from the feeling of overwhelm. There is something about closing your eyes and feeling your breath, I can’t quite explain it. When I’m panicking it brings me to the realization that I am okay. Physically I am fine the world is continuing to move. It makes problems smaller and helps me see reality a bit. The things I’m panicking about are not life or death and everything can be fixed or altered, I am fine. I could completely ruin all of the tasks at hand and still wake up tomorrow with a chance to rebuild, because I have so much that cannot be taken away from me.
and when you are ready….
Ahhh, let’s bring that stress back. Hopefully the last few steps have prepared you to tackle some of this. Figure out what is important and make a list. From what needs to be done now down to maybe I should do this sometime this week. Write it all out in a general order so you can make a game plan.
5B. If that still just seems like too much, just pick something easy and DO IT.
Like NOW. Seriously, pin this post, download the checklist and go do the easy thing 😛 Maybe it’s folding a load of laundry (ughhh), making your bed, sending an email, reading a chapter of a textbook, editing a paper, making a graphic for a blog post? I think you get the idea 😀
Any responsibilities you can pass off to someone else. Anyone else? Maybe a spouse, a kid, or even some hired help. If it can be taken off your plate and the world will continue to turn, do it. Let go of a little bit of that perfectionism and let someone help you. Yes, your kid may not fold the prettiest basket of laundry, and your husband might not load the dishwasher quite right. Maybe that intern won’t quite blow you away with that little project you need done… but you have to do it. If someone else can do it, let them. Full disclosure: I am WONDERFUL at delegating housework and childcare and TERRIBLE at delegating anything else. I’m terrible at delegating in my business, and most delegating is pretty frowned upon in grad school ( 😀 ). I fully understand the importance of delegation, I just suck at it and apparently have some itty bitty control issues. I am working on it….promise.
7. Neglect…for now.
If it is not a HUGE thing that you have to do, but you can’t delegate it. Neglect it for a bit. Put it on a list “for later”. Yeah, I know this sounds like awful advice. "Don’t you realize it is just going to pile up on you?" Yes. I do. But, when your other responsibilities are essential, like now. Neglect what isn’t, just a little. My house right now is being neglected until it can be delegated. Yes, it’s stressing me out but I need to let it go for a bit. For you this may be priority number one so you can function. If there is something that YOU feel you can neglect for a bit, throw it on the back burner and forget it…for now.
Yes, breathe some more. Give yourself a few minutes and Breathe. No more wallowing though….just breathe. You've got this.
9. Tackle it!
That list of priorities. If it hasn’t been delegated, neglected, or done. Start doing it from the top. Depending on the size of the project, you may want to break it down into smaller pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed again. Jump around if that is how you work best, but for most people focusing on ONE task for a predetermined amount of time will give the best results.
10. Repeat as necessary.
If you start to feel overwhelmed again. Breathe, move, calm, tackle. Repeat 😃
and of course
11. Give yourself a break.
Overwhelm happens to every one of us. You are BUSY, things WILL pile up at some point. Promise. No one manages motherhood without feeling overwhelmed, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you have on your plate. This isn’t easy.
Give yourself room to realize yes, this happens and it is okay. You may feel like you are going to break but you are not….why? because you HAVE this. You are amazing to have gotten this far!
You know what to do, and you are going to do it.
Before you know it you will get your flow back and you’ll be making it look easy.
I am not your therapist, this is not medical or mental health advice. If you think you need more than some time to breathe, please seek a professional that can help you navigate your specific circumstances ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ I am always an advocate for therapy for everyone. There is not a person in the world that could not use a unbiased third party to talk to once in a while. No matter what your circumstances, no matter how mild your stress I recommend making regular meetings with a therapist a part of your self-care regimen.