To every Overwhelmed mom: you’ve got this! When you’re feeling overwhelmed by parenting demands, it helps to learn what you have control over. Use these PROVEN tips and tricks to let go of stress and enjoy life again.
Being a parent is a tremendous joy. You get to connect with, relate to, and teach these little humans that you created. Watching my kids grow and learn and change has been one of my greatest pleasures and unending sources of gratitude.
However, parenting isn’t just sunshine and rainbows, right? One of the FIRST things I learned when I became a parent was that parenting NEVER ends. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a week job.
I had 3 babies in 39 months – no twins, 3 separate pregnancies and 3 deliveries. I didn’t sleep for 5 years! Seriously, it’s a 24/7 job.
Respites can be few and far between, and the demands are constant.
And no matter how amazing we want to be as moms, we’re still human. There are going to be those days when we are stressed or super tired or sick or just plain over listening to the kids fight.
Related: 4 Tips For Ending Sibling Rivalry
Why is Motherhood So Hard?
I don’t know about you, but when I was becoming a mom the first time, I definitely had this fairytale type of scenario playing out in my head about how amazing of a mom I would be.
Can’t you just see it now….like it’s straight out of the Brady Bunch…always having a cheery mood, never stressed, always baking something delicious and ready to gently guide my kids through any speed bumps that come our way.
Ah….ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?
Here’s what it really looks like: me trying to herd “cats” (a.k.a. Kids with minds of their own) in one single direction while grabbing forgotten items along the way and trying to make it out of the door on time to get to school, sports, appointments…whatever.
Oh, and the kids are complaining about W,Y,& Z and fighting with each other.
It’s enough to make my head explode! (did you just hear the boom?)
What happens when we feel overwhelmed and lose it? The sad truth is that our kids catch the brunt of it. I’ve done it. I’m guessing you’ve done it too.
You are NOT alone in feeling like an overwhelmed mom! In today’s rapid speed of life, not only are we trying to be amazing parents and provide as many opportunities as possible for our kids, but we also are working and volunteering for the PTA and just generally juggling too many things.
The pressures and obligations are relentless and are enough to make anyone feel like an overwhelmed parent.
What Do You Do When Motherhood is Hard?
There's no doubt that motherhood is a stressful job. It’s overwhelming to raise tiny humans and teach them all they need to know to be great people – on top of living life, having a job, paying the bills, etc, etc, etc.
What happens for you when motherhood is overwhelming?
Do you yell at the kids? Cry angry tears over something small that you would normally just let go of? Maybe you drown your feelings in cookies or a glass (or two) of wine after the kids go to bed.
It doesn't matter which of these things (or something else) you do, it’s a sign that you are an overwhelmed parent.
Again, you are NOT alone!
I feel that way. My mom friends feel that way. I’ve never met a mom who doesn’t feel overwhelmed at least sometimes.
10 Ways to Reduce Stress When You Feel Like an Overwhelmed Mom
Here are 10 essential things to do when you are feeling overwhelmed by parenting. These tasks may sound simple and you might be tempted to pooh-pooh them away, but I promise, they have helped me countless times in a multitude of different situations.
Instead of feeling like you are on a hamster wheel of stress, try using these suggestions to get off the wheel of neverending craziness.
1. Do a Brain Dump
For me, part of my stress stems from constantly trying to keep a running to-do list in my head every day. Do you realize how much energy it takes to keep track of a never ending to-do list?
When I finally started doing brain dumps and writing all that stuff down, it was LIFE-CHANGING for me.
Now you can call me the queen of lists. I have lists for everything and have them everywhere. Not too long ago I started keeping my lists on my phone so I don’t have random pieces of paper floating around (and getting lost).
LOVE IT! I use an app called AnyList and can make grocery lists, to-do lists, any other kind of list on it that I need.
Once you have completed your brain dump, take a look at what you wrote down. Do you REALLY have to do all of that today? Probably not.
Take an honest look at your list and decide what is truly realistic. That might only be ONE or TWO tasks. And that’s ok.
I’m as guilty (maybe more so) as any other mom for having Superwoman Complex where I think I can do far more in one day than is realistic for any one person.
3. Stop Multi-tasking
Just trust me on this one. Women are hardwired to try to accomplish multiple things at the same time, however, it’s been proven again and again that we are actually LESS PRODUCTIVE when we are trying to multi-task.
Maybe you’re like me and you start multitasking because you’re afraid you’ll forget to do something that needs to get done.
For example, it’s extremely common that I’ll be packing lunches and see that the dishes need to be put away from the night before so I’ll stop lunches to put those dishes away.
The dishes may be almost put away when I realize that I need to start a load of laundry. I run to grab the laundry and on the way see dog toys all over the floor (which drives me crazy) so I stop to pick up the dog toys.
Then back to get the laundry only to see my plants and realize I haven’t watered any of them in more than a week. So I run and get the watering can and start watering plants. Ooops – back to the laundry!
I get the laundry going in the washer and realize it’s been 15 minutes and I need to get the boys up and ready for school Wait! The lunches – and the dishes – AREN’T DONE!
See what I mean? I can start spiraling down a rabbit hole of tasks faster than it takes to say “stop” and end up not getting my most important tasks done. But I did pick up the dog toys.
Just one thing at a time – if you think of something you need to do while you’re in the middle of another task – WRITE IT DOWN on your list
Related: 12 Effective Time Management Strategies for Busy Moms
I am talking about literal cleaning, but not heavy duty deep cleaning. Picking up, you might call it.
I get stressed out when I look around my house and see a total mess. And I am willing to bet that on some level you feel the same way.
Here’s why it stresses me out: when I look around and see mess and clutter, I start immediately mentally going down that rabbit hole of tasks I need to accomplish. Before you know it, I’m 20 tasks into a list and thinking I have no time to get them done.
There’s a time to clean.
There’s a time to pick up.
And making time to do the picking up will yield huge rewards in stress reduction. Try it!
Related: 40 Time-Saving Cleaning Hacks For Every Mom
5. Get Enough Sleep
When I don’t have enough sleep, EVERYTHING feels so much harder. My emotions are a little out of whack and everything is just a bigger deal and harder to accomplish.
For example, my kids hate getting out of bed for school, and I often have to wake them up multiple times. When I haven’t gotten enough sleep, I’ll go from being nice and making jokes to screaming at them because they aren’t moving in 30 seconds flat.
They are actually doing the exact same thing they do every morning, but for me it’s harder and I’m less able to cope with it.
6. Take a Break From Social Media
Have you noticed that when you’re feeling overwhelmed by parenting that everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives and cheery status updates actually piss you off more and make you feel like you are failing at this whole mom thing?
We all know that people usually only share the great things on social media which makes them look like they are way more put together than we feel. When you are feeling like an overwhelmed mom, step away from social media to practice some self care. Take a bath. Do some yoga.
Enjoy some alone time.
You’ll be grateful you did.
7. Say No
There seems to be this idea or belief that as moms we have to say yes to everything (no, I’m not talking about “the dress”, lol).
“Yes I’ll volunteer for the field trip”.
“Sure, I can be on the PTA.”
“Of course I’ll be team parent.”
Oh trust me. I’ve been there and done it all.
And the truth is that when I say yes to too much, I end up doing a crappy job at ALL of it.
It’s ok to set boundaries and have limits for yourself. It’s GOOD to say no so you aren’t overextending yourself.
Just. Say. No.
8. Don’t Listen To The Voice In Your Head
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by motherhood, your brain may start telling you all kinds of awful things:
- Why aren’t I as good as all the other moms?
- What’s wrong with me?
- Why can’t I do a better job?
- Why isn’t being a mom more like I thought it would be?
Self pity and self doubt never helped anyone. Instead of listening to these toxic thoughts that aren’t even true, take a look at what you CAN change and remember that life – and parenting – get overwhelming sometimes. FOR EVERYONE.
You are not alone.
Instead of listening to the voice in your head, pick up the phone and call a fellow mom who can probably relate with what you're feeling and going through 100%.
9. Get Outdoors
I can’t tell you how many times simply getting outside and taking a walk or listening to the sounds of the birds and the breeze has helped me calm down and relax when I’m spiraling.
Being outside has a way of putting things into perspective and helping to find clarity.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try stepping outside or taking the dog for a walk. It’ll help.
10. Ask For Help
This is something that SO MANY moms struggle at doing. I’m right there with you. I don’t ask for help because I feel like it somehow makes me weak, inferior or incapable. I’m none of those things – and neither are you!
We ARE human, though, and humans were never meant to be able to survive alone and do it all by themselves. If we were, we would live like bears.
Instead, we live in communities, towns, and cities and work together in every aspect of our lives from growing food to running a business to raising children.
The next time you are feeling alone, ask someone for help and let them bear just a little of the burden you are feeling.
You’ll feel so much better.
Final Thoughts from an Overwhelmed Mom
Embrace the small things and let go of the big things. We are all just doing our best as moms and it’s completely natural to be overwhelmed by parenting from time to time.
Next time you are feeling like an overwhelmed parent, use these tips to help you reduce stress and find joy in the midst of the chaos.
You rock, Mama! And you’ve got this.
Tell us in the comments below: What do you find to be the most overwhelming thing in your life?
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