Are you tired of dealing with mom overwhelm?
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
As a mother, you spend your days trying to take care of everything and everyone. You feel like your entire being has been spread too thin.
The only thing that comes close to motivating you is knowing that, at the end of the day, you can go to bed and sleep.
And sometimes all you want to do is hide in a corner and cry.
This is Mom Burnout. This is the stress and overwhelms of being a mother – you focus so much on the needs of others that your own needs are forgotten.
I’m here to say, mamas, that it does not have to be this way.
There is a quote often repeated by Brené Brown, an American researcher who studies shame, courage, and vulnerability, that she once heard from a priest:
“If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire.”
It’s clear that in order to avoid Mom Burnout, we need to slow our lives down.
This list has some amazing tips on how to reduce overwhelm in your life and live in a more harmonious and balanced way.
1. Clear Your Plate
Everything you encounter and experience in your life goes on your plate: work, family, kids, relationships, chores, etc. When you put too much on your plate, it becomes an unsightly mess.
It’s near impossible to discern one substance from another. It also becomes difficult to reach the things at the bottom of the plate because of the mishmash piled on top of it.
When your plate is overflowing with responsibilities and expectations, how do you even begin to make sense of everything?
The simplest answer, yet the hardest to follow, is to cut back. Leo Babauta at “zen habits” understands the difficulty of battling the want of completion with the need to cut back:
“The problem is, most people who are overwhelmed feel like they just can’t cut back. They feel like they need to work harder to get everything done that needs to get done. They think that taking a break, or cutting back on their workload, is out of the question.”
The rest of the advice in this list will lend itself to helping you cut back, clear your plate and reduce mom overwhelm.
However, even a quick look at your current life may give you an idea of things (and people) you can immediately remove from your life to help alleviate the burden of feeling overwhelmed and experiencing Mom Burnout.
2. Establish a Tribe
Mom Burnout can be an isolating and debilitating experience – but no mother should go it alone. You have to be able to push aside your pride and ask for help.
If you are anything like me, the thought of reaching out for aid makes you feel like an even more failure than you already think you are. I’ve been there many, many times. I felt that asking for help was some sort of admission of weakness.
There is no shame in relying on a community of peers to help you through motherhood.
You need to establish a tribe – a group of friends and acquaintances that can support and guide you through the overwhelming experiences of motherhood. Look to your friends, close family members, and even online communities.
And a tribe need not be merely a source of help and advice. You also need a place to vent your frustrations and talk through your struggles.
Gather your allies and surround yourself with supportive people. It does wonders for alleviating that looming sense of overwhelm from your life.
3. Find Something That is Just for You
You need to engage in an activity that is only for you – that no one else can join you in.
You can look beyond the scope of home and join a yoga class or take up running or you can also find activities at home, such as reading or having a bath, that will give you time for yourself.
One more time and louder for the people in the back:
TIME. FOR. YOUR. SELF.
You crave it because you need it. So often we, as mothers, dive so deep into our role as parents that we forget who we really are.
It’s important to carve out time for you, doing something you enjoy that involves only you.
This is what I like to call “Mommy Time Out” and I wrote an article about it here.
Basically, whenever you need to tap out, you tap out.
This may mean walking away from your crying child, who is upset because they just found out that your real name isn’t “Mom”. This may mean leaving your child in a safe environment and sneaking away for a bath.
Or, like one of my “Mommy Time Out” moments, you may throw yourself on your bed only to have your child bring you a bottle of wine from the fridge.
However, you need to make it happen, make it happen. Focusing on yourself regularly will help to clear some of that mom overwhelm.
4. Connect with Nature
Go outside. It’s free and extremely beneficial to your mental and physical health.
A simple walk can do wonders for clearing your mind. If you have the opportunity, throw off your shoes and stand barefoot in the grass.
Does your Mom Burnout make you feel like your sanity is floating around in the atmosphere? Ground it by, literally, standing on the ground.
If you’re into meditation or mindfulness practices, you can always go for a meditative walk.
There are no special skills required – you simply walk while focusing on either one particular thought in your mind (like a goal or affirmation) or no thoughts at all.
Otherwise, just walk out the door. Just make sure someone is supervising your children (like, say, someone from your tribe???).
5. Connect with Non-Mom Friends
Non-mom friends are the best. They have no idea what you are going through and can’t sympathize at all.
This means that when you tell them all your woes they see you as this super-person who is facing the mightiest of stresses.
There’s no, “Oh, I remember when I felt like that,” or, “I know what you mean. Being a mother is hard.”
Nope, you are the Queen of Mom Overwhelm and having that non-mom friend helps to validate your struggle.
Because your struggles are real. Maybe they’re not as struggle-y (?) as those of other mothers in more perilous situations, but they are what you have to face on a daily basis.
Admitting that you are overwhelmed is important in beginning to work through your Mom Burnout and finding harmony in your life.
Your tribe is sacred because they do understand what you are going through and can help you through it.
Your non-mom friends are vital because they have no sweet clue and will likely help you in ways you never even thought of (like getting you a sitter so you can go to a movie or bringing you sushi after a hectic week).
Never underestimate the understanding of a non-mom friend. Their perspective on life may differ from yours but, maybe, that’s exactly what you need.
6. Start Saying “No”
So many of us fall into the trap of being that “Yes Mom” to others in our community:
Need cookies for the bake sale? I’ll do it!
Since you’re picking up your little one at school, can you drive mine home? Of course!
The school needs a library volunteer, can you do it? You bet I can!
Can you, though? I mean, you probably have the time but do you have room on your plate for unnecessary activities?
When you are feeling the Mom Burnout and can’t keep your own life straight, it is perfectly okay to set boundaries with others.
The only people you need to be the best mom for is your little ones – how good of a mother you are should never depend on how others in the world see you.
“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings
Give yourself some ground rules when it comes to volunteering your time and efforts. You may feel like a selfish bitch but, when you are dealing with mom overwhelm in your life, you need to be your priority.
7. Eat Well
You may not think that a beneficial change in your diet can help reduce Mom Burnout, but taking care of your body means that you have more energy, you are sick less, and better equipped to face the challenges of day-to-day life.
Eating well does not have to involve fancy or expensive “diets” but I can understand the difficulty of just “eating good and wholesome foods”.
I mean, when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, the first thing you’re likely to do is to shove your face with crap that makes you feel good.
Then you’re caught in a vicious cycle: you eat badly because you’re stressed and your body poorly handles stress because you eat bad which leads you to eat more bad stuff. I totally get it.
Apart from that, you are so busy that quick-to-make processed foods and drive-thru fare are your go-to in order to successfully feed your family and live life.
So what’s the fix here?
Marie at Hot Mess Housewife discovered the beauty of meal planning:
“Now I look back and wonder why I didn’t meal plan monthly earlier! You save so much time, so much MONEY, and so much stress by having a plan.”
While Marie does her meal planning one month in advance, even looking ahead to next week can make an impact on your current eating habits. Any meal planning is going to cut down on the stress of preparing nutritious meals.
Simply come up with a game plan for the next week of eating, buy your groceries and take one chunk of time to do whatever prep you can (cutting vegetables, marinating meat, etc.)
Once you get into the habit of meal planning, you may find yourself straying from the plan but able to maintain a steady menu of fresh foods. You just need to make eating healthy a routine in your life.
8. Delegate Household Responsibilities
There is no reason why any mother should be 100% responsible for a household when there are children and other adults present.
I don’t care if you are a stay-at-home mom and your spouse works – there are no free passes when it comes to household responsibilities.
I know, myself, it’s these responsibilities that lead to my Mom Burnout. First I take care of my daughter, then I take care of the household and then I take care of myself.
But guess what? Those first two tasks are never really complete, leaving me with no time to relax and focus on myself.
I had to simply let some shit go and accept that, as a single mother, my house was going to always maintain a slightly chaotic status.
But when there are other able-bodied individuals who are capable of washing dishes, doing laundry, and sweeping the floor, the responsibility should be balanced between family members.
Even if everyone just took care of their own messes, it would be a big load off your shoulders.
Keep track of chores and their completion by creating a chore schedule for the entire family. Tracie at Penny Pinchin’ Mom provides a free chore chart as well as some helpful tips and a list of appropriate chores by age.
9. Make a To-Do List
Sometimes the largest source of overwhelm in a mother’s life is knowing that there are 10 000 things to do but having no clue where to start or what exactly needs to be done.
Ever stood in a messy room and had no idea where to begin? Or stared at a pile of dishes, unsure which to wash first?
You know the whole thing needs to be done, but facing so many tasks can be debilitating. You may find yourself losing all motivation to complete any of them and giving in to mom overwhelm.
While it may seem a bit silly to make a to-do list for that teetering pile of dishes (I mean, go ahead – especially if it will help!), imagine the impact it could have on everyday life knowing exactly what has to be done.
Start a list every evening of what you know has to be done the next day. Keep it with you and add to it as your day progresses.
It may be a bit overwhelming at first to see such a long list of tasks. However, you’ll find a sense of relief as you are able to cross each item off that list.
Playful Notes blogger Raluca takes her to-do list one step further by prioritizing the tasks:
“I write down all my daily tasks. Then I give each task a number according to its importance. I always start with the most important things on my list. This way, even if I don’t manage to do all the tasks on the list, at the end of the day I know that I’ve done the most important ones. And this gives me a feeling of fulfillment that allows me to give myself grace for all the things that I haven’t managed to do.”
10. Focus on Your Victories
I love that phrase: “Give myself grace”.
Mom Burnout often occurs because we’ve run out of steam trying to get EVERYTHING done. Imagine being able to sit back at the end of the day and say, “Hey, I did my best. The important things got done. It was a good day.”
And that’s what this last point is all about: giving yourself permission to celebrate your victories, no matter how small.
Did the kids wake up breathing? Victory!
Did they go to bed still breathing? Victory!
Are they clean and happy? Victory!
Did everyone get fed today? Victory!
While these seem like no-brainer aspects of rearing children, it’s okay to pat yourself on the back for making it through another day.
Overcoming Mom Burnout and Mom Overwhelm
The responsibilities and expectations of being a mom are tremendous and endless. Yet, motherhood does not have to be stressful.
It really shouldn’t be stressful. We should be enjoying our time raising our children.
Unfortunately, making this an enjoyable and stress-free experience takes some work. Thankfully, the above tips are not huge undertakings and keep be easily practiced to reduce the mom overwhelm in your life and prevent burnout.
How do you deal with the overwhelm of being a mother? Have any tips to add? Leave a comment below!