Overcome with the responsibilities and emotions of motherhood? Learn how to stop feeling like an overwhelmed mom with these 6 fantastic tips. By: Amy Wruble
It was a typical morning.
As I ransacked the closet in search of a lost shirt, a toy cash register flew off the overstuffed shelves and crushed my toes.
I tried to schedule a repairman for our broken stove, but the kids’ fighting was so loud, I couldn’t hear a word.
Then, my toddler spilled an entire box of cereal and I had to abandon the mess or risk being late for school.
On this and many other days, I’ve felt like a seriously overwhelmed mom.
6 ways to stop feeling like an overwhelmed mom
Whether you’ve got one kid or five, stay at home or work full time, every mom feels overwhelmed sometimes.
Raising small humans to be good people is an awesome responsibility, and a mom is never off the clock. Even time apart from our kids is often spent shopping and planning for them, worrying about their well-being, and wondering if we’re doing it right.
Since most of us don’t have access to Mary Poppins or a spa vacation (I wish!), how are we supposed to cope when we feel exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed? The answers may be simpler than you think.
Here’s what has worked for me:
1. Pretend it’s raining
I’m usually psyched to get out of the house. But some days, finding everyone’s shoes, packing the bag, applying sunscreen to wiggly kids, and strapping them into car seats doesn’t feel worth it.
On those days, I give myself permission to throw out the plan, stay home, and act like it’s pouring outside… even if it’s a perfect beach day.
What does a pretend rainy day look like? It definitely starts with hot cocoa, which puts everyone in a great mood. Then, I dip into my rainy day closet, where I keep a few small toys and art supplies that my kids haven’t seen before.
The excitement of a new puzzle or building blog set, plus a simple craft we can do together around the kitchen table, easily fills the morning. After lunch, it’s time for a movie—a long one!—and then before you know it, they’re finally in bed.
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2. Write it down
Do you ever feel like you’ll never get it all done? Do you worry you’re forgetting something crucial, like that permission slip that was due yesterday or the science fair that’s—uh-oh—tomorrow?
At these moments, I stop everything and make a list. Even a really long list is less overwhelming than no list, and it’s so satisfying crossing things off.
Another great tool for our family is an old-fashioned wall calendar that hangs in our kitchen. Until my kids are big enough for smart phones and we can all go digital, I like having a visual reminder even my seven-year-old can read.
3. Lighten your load
A mom is typically her family’s CEO, but would a real CEO also be the secretary and the janitor? As much as you can, delegate some of your less essential tasks to others.
- Forget running errands with a car full of kids and order those items online.
- Pay the kids to do unusual chores, like cleaning out your car.
- Ask your date-night babysitter to organize the sippy cup drawer after the kids go to sleep.
- Have your partner to start making the lunches.
- Work out a regular play date swap with a friend so you get an afternoon or Saturday morning off every other week.
- Hire a cleaning lady as often as you can afford it, even if it’s only a few times a year, and ask her to take on the jobs you hate the most.
Remember, there is no gold medal for doing it all yourself.
4. Put yourself in time out
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If you find yourself yelling at your kids, chances are, you’re overwhelmed. It’s hard to be patient and set consistent, loving limits when you’re completely fried. You’re more likely to overreact and scream “No TV all week!” for some minor infraction, when really, who is that punishing?
Mom, that’s who.
When I can sense myself losing control, instead of going overboard on my kids, I give myself a time out. As long as it’s safe to do so, I leave the kids playing or watching TV and hide out in my room for a while.
Alone, I can take some deep breaths, wash my face, stretch, scroll online—anything that helps me relax. Once I’m feeling less overwhelmed, I’ll talk to my kids much more calmly about whatever went wrong.
Pro tip: Don’t get rid of your baby monitor even if your kids have outgrown the baby stage—it’s a great safety tool for mommy time-outs.
5. Laugh about it
One time, I made a huge pot of pasta for my very “hangry” children. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the strainer in the sink and it all slid down the drain. I wanted to cry at the wasted time and food, but decided to make fun of myself instead.
“Mommy made invisible pasta tonight, kids. Want to try it?”
When everything is going wrong, you have a choice. You can scream and curse and bang your head against the wall… or you can laugh about it.
Guess which option sets a better example for our kids?
Finding the humor in mistakes, instead of beating yourself up, diffuses a tough situation and makes you feel less overwhelmed. If you can’t make the leap from frustration to funny, imagine the situation happening not to you but to a good friend, or even a character in a movie.
6. Lower your standards
There is so much pressure on the modern mom to be everything to our kids. We’re expected to be teachers, nutritionists, doctors, chauffeurs, party planners, housekeepers, and photographers. It’s a lot!
Did our parents do all of this for us? Certainly not every day. And yet here we are, alive and well. So, try doing less.
Only have the energy to make PB&J for dinner? Why not? Bedtime was 30 minutes ago and you’ve totally blown your schedule? Who cares? Kids kind of need a bath but you’d rather just drop them straight into bed in their play clothes? Go ahead.
I’m not saying you have to lower your standards forever. But your kids will still get into college if you decide that on this day, or this week, or this month, you’re going to save your sanity by doing less. Your kids might even like Lazy Mom, because she’s calmer.
Our kids don’t need us to be perfect moms—as if there were such a thing. When you feel overwhelmed, practice these tips to lighten your load.
Pretend that it’s a rainy day and stay at home. Write your tasks down and get those to-do’s out of your head, and don’t feel compelled to do everything. If you feel angry, put yourself in timeout. Lower your standards a notch, even if just for the day.
And when all else fails, learn to laugh about it, as if you were watching someone else on television.
Taking the pressure off ourselves, being flexible, and keeping a sense of humor go a long way towards feeling less overwhelmed. Even if it means crushing your toe while looking for a lost shirt in the closet.
Get more tips:
- How to Be a Happy Mom
- Time Management for Moms: Tips You Can Actually Apply
- How to Spend Time with Your Family (Even as a Busy Mom)
- 7 Effective Ways to Handle Parent Burnout
- Top 7 Tips to Keep Your Sanity as a Mom
Amy Wruble is a mother of two princess-obsessed girls. She is also a freelance writer and regular contributor to mom.me and Momtastic. Visit her blog and let her try to make you laugh at amywruble.com.
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