Moms are not just moms. Some of us have careers in addition to raising children, some of us are building new careers, and some of us have committed ourselves to the career of child rearing. But the word mother is not the only way to define us. In addition to being moms, we are professionals, we are managers of households, we are nurses to our little ones, we are chauffeurs, we are housekeepers, we are chefs, we are homework enforcers and teachers. The list goes on.
Sometimes it can feel like the world does not recognize all that we do. We rarely receive praise for doing all the laundry or packing a lunch. Even after a day of grumpy toddlers, runny noses, endless house chores, or an exhausting day of work, we can come home to more demands… from spouses or partners who don’t quite get our level of fatigue, from kids who need help with homework or a forgotten assignment, from a parent of friend in a crisis. We can reach our limit fast, yet it feels like no one is honoring it or listening.
This is when it is important for us as mothers and women to stand up for ourselves and be firm. No more. It will have to wait, unless it is a life threatening emergency. This is when we need to say firmly that we need a break: sleep, a shower, an hour to decompress. And we need to make sure that is clearly known.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, here are five ways to get back on track:
Most of the time our less than stellar functioning is due to a lack of sleep. Make a consistent routine for yourself where you go to bed at the same time each evening and wake at the same time each morning. And don’t feel guilty about it. Sleep is precious and you need it to thrive.
2) Ask for help.
Don’t feel shy or guilty. We are human beings who are incapable of handling everything well. For mamas with multiple children, it is especially impossible to meet all needs all of the time by yourself. Ask your partner to pick up more of the household chores. Ask a friend to pick up some groceries for you the next time they go. Ask a family member, friend, or sitter to watch your children for a couple hours so you can hear yourself think or rest.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but when we focus on the positive things in our life and what we appreciate most, it can help re-frame our thinking so that we feel less overwhelmed. Gratitude journaling works best with a consistent routine. Try spending a few minutes in the mornings or just before bed focusing on what you are most grateful for.
4) Say no.
If someone asks you to take on a new project or is requiring more of your time, stand your ground. Explain that you are depleted right now. Be honest. Tell them that you need to recharge and slow down for a few days, weeks, or months.
5) Simplify your life.
If you’re someone who tries to make gourmet meals each night while your children complain that they are hungry or start whacking each other with a toy, streamline the process. Either turn on the TV for 30 minutes so you can cook in peace, or simplify your meals. Slow cooker meals are fabulous for providing home-cooked food with minimal effort.
Mamas, how do you manage overwhelm? Do you readily stand your ground and give yourself permission to rest? Or do your keep pushing yourself, silently hoping for a reprieve? Let us know in the comments.
MK and Yvonne