I want to address something that’s been cropping up in conversations that I’ve been having – in person, online, on the phone with my nearest and dearest friends – this feeling of being overwhelmed.
Overwhelm, in the oxford english dictionary is defined as: bury or drown beneath a huge mass. Whew. What a heavy word. What a heavy feeling. What a common thing for working moms to be walking around, carrying. The weight of the mental load of running a household. The stress of the schedule. The worries about your marriage, your job, your kiddos. Those things can feel incredibly heavy – honestly even one of those things might feel heavy enough to overwhelm you completely… and then you add on more and more things.
Motherhood is a set up for overwhelm. Seriously – there is nothing quite so heavy as the worries that come alongside the responsibility of having children – and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens within the bounds of you being you, you being in a relationship, you working, you doing laundry and vacuuming… all the things don’t pause just because children show up… in fact, having kiddos increases those ancillary duties as well.
So… this post is going to be short, sweet and packed with just a few effective strategies for you to employ if you are feeling overwhelmed. I know that you are already feeling like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it… so let’s get to it!
Adjust your expectations
When I’m having these conversations about overwhelm I hear moms asking questions like… how do I keep the house clean, feed everyone, get to bed on time and workout while I have 3 month old triplets and my husband is traveling for work?
Hold the phone. Did you hear that? SO many balls in the air. SO many things going on at once and, if you, like most moms, are holding yourself to the pinterest-perfect standard of cleanliness of your home, the matching outfits and simultaneously sleeping triplets ideal situation you have in your head and that you should be fitting back into your pre-pregnancy pants after you grew any number of humans and now are responsible for keeping alive… make like Elsa and let it go.
When you feel overwhelmed by the tasks that you have on your too-full plate – ask yourself – Am I holding myself to a standard that’s realistic? Is this a priority during this season that I am in?
If your standard is on par with reality and fits in your season, great. If the standard that you have set wouldn’t be feasible, even on a TV show where they have wardrobe and set design and everything is scripted… then it’s time to reset your expectations.
Remember that this is for a season and to save your sanity, so be thorough and ruthless with resetting your expectations. The things that really matter to you – keep those. The things that you are doing to maintain appearances or because you feel like society is telling you to do them – ditch those. Throw them right out the window, my friend – they aren’t serving you and they are feeding your overwhelm.
Edit your life
We go through life accumulating things and oftentimes it’s so busy that we forget to edit down the things that we are responsible for and carrying around with us. Take a look at your life, specifically the tasks or situations that overwhelm you and think about what it would look like if those didn’t exist.
Whether it’s removing commitments or responsibilities from your lives altogether or simply offloading those onto your partner’s plate, either of those is a great way to edit down what you are doing.
Studies show that moms, regardless of whether they work outside the home or not, are consistently doing more than their fair share of the household duties and responsibilities. How can you change that in your life?
Maybe you are able to find room in your budget to outsource tasks that will decrease your stress level and overwhelm.
I’ll give you an example from my life – I despise cleaning. Yes, I know it’s necessary to clean otherwise we would be living in absolute and total filth. I used to work all week (so did Dan) and then on Saturday morning I’d spend time cleaning, tidying up, doing the bathrooms and vacuuming. If I’m being completely honest – I wasn’t great at cleaning. It’s not that I didn’t know how – well, actually I probably didn’t have the greatest system, but that’s neither here nor there – it’s that I lacked the enthusiasm to get it done. I was easily distracted and I was generally bummed and pissed off that, while I was cleaning, Dan was outside doing things like working on the cars and mowing the lawn, trimming trees and… hanging out with our kids.
At the time my stepsons were old enough to not need toddler level supervision and they would be frolicking, helping dan, playing ball or playing with the dogs and I felt trapped inside the house doing a task that I hated. I wanted to be outside mowing the lawn, a task that I now thoroughly enjoy… I wanted to play with the dogs and play catch with the kids and probably most of all… I wanted to not be cleaning.
But… I knew the house needed to be cleaned, so clean I did. When, over time, things changed and room opened up in our budget, one of the first things that I discussed adding to the budget was a line item for house cleaning. We now have a wonderful woman who comes every two weeks to do that deeper cleaning that I didn’t enjoy.
This gives us a reason to clean up the house before she comes – you know, to clean for the cleaner – to declutter and remove all the stuff we have from all the flat surfaces that exist at our house – so that she can clean them. Right now she comes on Fridays and let me tell you, walking into the house on Friday afternoon to it clean is one thousand times better than waking up on a Saturday knowing that I am the one who is going to clean it and miss out on time with my family.
So I gladly Venmo our awesome cleaner and really enjoy that task being on someone else’s plate so that I have more room on mine for other things.
Today I’m asking you to think about what things you can outsource – to your partner to take whole ownership of or that you can contract out to pay someone to do. Maybe it’s the lawncare, the laundry or some level of transportation. Maybe it’s having your neighbor who has a kiddo on the same baseball team drive the kids to practice on Tuesday and you drive them on Thursday? Maybe it’s bartering with another working mom something that you are good and and enjoy for something that she is good at and enjoys.
Get creative and look for ways to eliminate tasks from your to do list so that you can create some breathing room in your own life.
It’s not just you!
Lastly, I want to encourage you that this feeling of overwhelm is completely common and that you are not alone. If you are looking for a community of kick ass moms who occasionally feel superbly overwhelmed right alongside you, join us in The Fulfilled Moms Club on facebook, we’d love to have you. I’m sitting in this season of overwhelm right along with you…
In fact, I wrote this podcast episode… THIS MORNING in preparation for recording this podcast episode and write this blog post today. I hustled the kids out the door for Dan to drop them at daycare and hunkered down to prep this encouragement for you. Would I have loved to have this episode written and polished a week or two ago? SURE. Did I have other things going on? YEP. Did I choose to sit outside with a cold drink in my hand last night and watch my kids do homemade American ninja warrior courses instead of writing this podcast episode? You’re damn right I did!
Because this life… it’s a product of the choices that we make and just because overwhelm is common, trending and dare-I-say popular, it doesn’t meant that you are going to feel this way forever and it doesn’t mean that you get no say in the matter whatsoever.
Take a look at your expectations for yourself and those around you, see what adjustments can be made. Try to offload things, outsource things and edit things from your life completely that aren’t serving you. Keep showing up to fight another day and chart your course from overwhelm to fulfillment.
Oh, I wanted to ask you a quick favor – if this post was helpful to you in any way – if you learned something, laughed a little, felt inspired or encouraged and part of this fold of moms who are searching for a life full of fulfillment… head to iTunes and give this show 5 stars. Write a review. Subscribe to the YouTube channel. Share this episode with a friend, on social media and tag me or in your local or virtual moms group. That’s the BEST way to fight overwhelm – by sharing resources just like this with those other busy moms in your life!