Dear Overwhelmed Mom,
Welcome to the club! Okay, so maybe it’s not a club you want to join or ever thought you would be a part of, but you are one of us nonetheless.
We have an idea of what you are going through, although all of our experiences are unique and personal.
Take me, for example:
I am writing this letter from a vanpool on my way home from work, I was out of my house by 5:00 am and I will not be home until after 5:30 pm. My days are long. Yet, here I am typing away, hoping I can help other working moms. I hope that my relentlessness will help you get through it too.
This schedule I am trying out, it’s for my baby girl. I would rather her sleep without me a few extra hours than have her waiting for me in the evening. Uh, yeah, you read that right, my daughter sleeps with me. To me, its extra bonding time.
We all sacrifice for different reasons. I am sure most of the women reading this are sacrificing for their kids and family just like you. Which leads me to – how did we get here?
What led us to think we have to do it all?
I know I feel that way most of the time. Like I have to be amazing at work, have a perfect house, have an ideal body, raise the most perfect kids, do everything for everyone, never miss a social engagement, oh and by the way have a picture-perfect marriage. Of course, nothing in my life is perfect, not even close.
Is this really something we should all strive for? Do we do it for ourselves or for outer appearances?
If other people were not watching, would I care about the extra pounds I gained over the summer and from the stress of starting a new job? If people did not care, would I brush my hair or do my makeup?
I do know that I would keep brushing my teeth, but that is about it!
All this contemplating about why women these days are overwhelmed leads to question after question.
Do we really have to do it all?
Hell no! We do not have to do it all! It’s up to you to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it.
Work on what is important to you.
Okay, so you love putting makeup on in the morning, it helps you relax. But can you get away with not washing your hair every day? Sure, lets put up a bun and move on.
Alright, so are your top priorities, your kids and husband? Add yourself in as a priority and realize you do not have to make a five-course home-cooked meal every day.
Can we still be fulfilled by not doing it all?
Yes, as long as you determine what makes you fulfilled. What works for your best friend may be totally different than you. If knitting the most beautiful envious blankets makes her feel accomplished, do not think you have to do the same.
If you do feel envy about what other women are accomplishing, what you think is reasonable. We all have jealous feelings. But that is the point, all of us are jealous of someone. I am sure someone is jealous of your talents.
You got that, right! Someone out there is jealous of you.
If you met that person who is jealous of you, what would you tell them? I know I would say something along the lines of you don’t have anything to be jealous of and tell that person how they are amazing.
I think it’s what most of us would say and how we feel.
We are amazing in our own way. If others see it, why can’t we see it for ourselves?
Think about all you did in the last 48 hours, I am sure your days are chuck full of accomplishments big and small. Instead of thinking about what you did not get done, praise yourself for what you did get done.
My main point is you are amazing for what you do and how you do it. Given your unique situation, you are making things happen.
Sometimes surviving another day is worth celebrating.
And when you are a new working mom, sometimes reducing your number of meltdowns is worth celebrating.
Below are a few steps you can take to help you feel better. Do one or do all 14, it’s up to you! If you do find something that helps you, let me know! I want to share absolutely anything that can help an overwhelmed mother.
1.Think of the good stuff
We can list the pros and cons of what we do all day. But maybe once in a while, just focus on those pros.
When life is one stumble after another, celebrate the small stuff:
- Surviving another birthday party
- Having dinner on the table
- Giving your kids a bath (didn’t they take one yesterday?)
- Making it to work almost on time, but not noticeably late (you know that sweet spot)
- Smiling instead of punching someone
- Being cool on the road
- Getting to wear your comfortable underwear because it finally got washed again
- Those little things you appreciate add up when you actually think about them. So think about them.
2. Get help!
When you feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask for help.
Have you ever asked for help and been denied?
It’s rare to get told no. When you ask for help or for something, people usually try to accommodate. They may not be able to do precisely what you ask for, but people typically put in the effort. A little help is better than no help at all.
I am not talking about asking someone for something outrageous, like large sums of money.
I am talking about little things that help. Like if you have to pump at work and it’s the same time as a meeting, ask someone to cover it for you. Its better to ask than to be engorged and in pain all day.
If I were hungry at work and knew I would not have time to grab a bite to eat, I would ask a coworker to pick up something for me when they went to lunch.
You know who you can ask, and you know who not to ask. The best thing is to surround yourself with good helpful people. They will make your life easier. And if they ever need anything, be there for them they way they are there for you.
***Balancing work and life as a mom? I got you covered!***
3. Spring cleaning when you feel like it
If having a messy house is getting to you, and you feel like doing a little at a time is not working, then clear your afternoon and just clean.
One day my infant daughter was sneezing, and it was stressing me out like my house was dusty. So my husband and I dropped everything we were doing, put her down for a nap, and we tackled cleaning the entire house.
Doing it together made it a bit easier.
Once we were as done as we could be, it felt good. Even though that day, I did not get much rest, the satisfaction of having a clean house got my adrenaline pumping.
These are things that can be done quickly but are satisfying:
- Organize that pile of mail
- Throw out old food
- Declutter your nightstand
- Throw out stuff you no longer need
- Clear out baby/toddler stuff your kids no longer use
- Get rid of clothes that no longer fit you
4. Do something fun on a whim
Or you can do the opposite of cleaning and do something fun. Screw waiting for Saturdays when everything is crowded.
If you had a rough Tuesday, there is nothing better than going to do something fun that evening like bowling. It takes the monotony out of the week.
Or if your kids like doing a craft that is extra messy but extra fun, these are the days to do them. Those giggles and smiles will remind you how great life is.
It may not be on a whim, but taking a day trip in the middle of the week is always fun. It breaks up your week
5. Forget your plans
Sometimes when you are not feeling well, the best thing to do is to clear out your to-do list. Not by doing the stuff you need to do, instead, blow it off. It’s okay to forget about your obligations once in a while.
If your to do’s keep piling up, figure out what you can get away with not doing. There must be something you can cut out to make your life easier.
I love this blog, but if I am feeling overwhelmed, I will take a break from it. It took me a while to realize I do not have to post five articles a month. So find what you can cut and be okay with doing a little less.
Set your expectations of yourself at “realistic.” If you set them at “unattainable,” you may not like the results and get even more overwhelmed.
6. Do something for yourself
Never forget to do things that make you happy and are solely for you.
When I need a break, I go get my nails done.
When I am broke and need a break, my husband will take my daughter somewhere while I relax at home.
Once you do something for yourself, things just feel better overall. It snaps you out of tiredness and takes the stress away.
Now, if you think you do not have time to do something for yourself, start off with something small. Leave a little early to work and treat yourself to your favorite coffee. Or buy yourself a facemask and have a mini spa day in your restroom.
I used to be so overwhelmed that making time to put lotion on my body after a shower was a spa day. If that is all you have time for, take it.
Nothing is too small when it comes to doing something for yourself.
***Working and Pregnant? Read on…***
7. Sing out loud
Is there a jam you have not listened to lately?
Find that song, blast it and sing it out loud!
Who cares if you are off-key or do not know the correct words. Just have fun with it.
It will release some tension, and if the song has sentimental meaning, it can bring back old memories or feelings.
Maybe it will make you feel like a carefree teenager again when your most significant problem was that pimple on your nose. Ha! You never realize how good life is when you are young and dumb.
If you are more of a dancer, then dance too!
Bottom line – use music to make you feel better.
8. Reach out to an old pal
Is there someone who used to play a big part in your life but you drifted apart?
It’s hard to keep relationships going when you are working and have a family. Everyone understands this because we all let our relationships slip from time to time.
However, if it’s a real friend, that person will be delighted when you reach out. So go ahead, shoot them a text or give them a call. Odds are, your friend is probably going through life challenges similar to yours.
After three years, I reached out to an old friend from high school and came to find out that she was pregnant and going through what I had just gone through. I was able to help her and let her know what to expect. It felt good to reconnect and talk about the old days – but at the same time, we both could relate to new things going on in our lives.
With some people, you can pick up where you left off, and that will definitely perk you up.
9. Lean on family
Family is essential in your life because they should be there for you no matter what.
I know not everyone has a great family life, but if you are fortunate to have a family you get along with, use it.
It does not have to be your immediate family, either. If you are close to an aunt or cousin, you can reach out to them too. If it’s been a while since you talked or visited them, then now is a good time.
You do not have to wait for the next wedding or funeral to see your family. Make an effort, and hopefully, you will be happy that you did.
Ah, the power of snuggling your little one!
No matter how hard life gets a sweet hug from your baby can make your problems melt away. I am not talking about a small hug, hello. I am talking long drawn out hugs.
After being apart from my daughter all day we like to cuddle, I can hold her for hours, and she lets me. I tell her I love you and now that she is two, she actually tells me she loves me back. Its heart-melting and makes the struggle worth it.
You can also get snuggles from your significant other!
It is not uncommon to go weeks or months without having time to relax together in each other’s arms. So bring that back into your life. It’s like putting on your favorite sweater in the fall after not wearing it all summer. It feels that nice, it’s new and familiar.
Or better yet try not to get into the natural habit of forgetting about one another.
11. Cry it out
Do you know the relief that comes with crying? It’s pretty great. It’s why our bodies can produce tears and let them out.
Once the tears come out – a few things happen:
- People see that you are going through something, and their awareness is usually a kind reaction
- After tears come words, talking after crying is just another part of the release
- You may also feel a barrier of some sort break down within you
So instead of holding back those tears, let them flow. Growing up most of our parents would get mad when we cried, which is why we stop ourselves from doing it.
Do not let crying be a negative association in your life, your emotion has to come out somehow – let them be your freedom.
12. Order breakfast in bed
Do you have someone awesome in your life that loves you? Have him or her make you breakfast in bed. It is the ultimate luxury and feels so good when you do it.
You can also make yourself breakfast and take it to bed, its not as cool, but it will do.
Let it be the kick-off to a lazy relaxing day where you do what you want. Rest like a queen.
Make it a pajama day for everyone! No showers!
Heck, eat all your meals in bed.
13. Take a vacation
When you need a break, take one. There is a reason workers get time off, it helps you stay productive, and it lets you enjoy life.
If you have time off, take it.
For those of you who are waiting for the perfect time to take off from work – trust me, there is no ideal time. You will always find a reason to keep working. So instead of coming up with excuses not to take your time off – take it.
The break from work will be beneficial if you need more time with your kids or partner. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed stems from not having enough time to do anything. Well, there you go, use your time to do what you want.
If those chores are bogging you down – then leave. Go somewhere on your vacation. There are plenty of hotels and rooms you can rent to getaway.
14. Seek professional help if needed
If you do not feel right at all, get the professional help you need.
There are people out there who are ready to help you, who want to help you. Put someone to work. There are so many resources out there. Look for help in your community, or even some workplaces have resources.
Never feel like you are a burden because you are not. If anything, you are important to your family, especially those little ones. They are the reason you should work on yourself and keep yourself from getting overwhelmed in the first place.
Take care of yourself.
There are so many things you can do to help yourself from getting overwhelmed, or to put a stop to it.
If you are admittedly overwhelmed, then you are taking the first step just by reading this. That is great, I hope you keep going from here.
Remember to prioritize and know that you do not have to be everything for everyone. Do enough to get by with your sanity. You can say no, use it.
It is normal for a mom to get overwhelmed. We have so much going on, and we make life look effortless, so of course, people do not know how you truly feel.
Be proud of your accomplishments and cut things out that you do not need in your life. You are entitled to be happy and feel good about yourself. Yes, making sacrifices is a massive part of being a parent, but you can’t be a good parent if you do not take care of yourself.
Best of luck, moms, you are fantastic, and I am jealous of you.