Overwhelmed Moms

Are You Overwhelmed, Mom?

Congratulations!  You just found out your going to be a mom!  The joy is incredible as you wonder what  being pregnant will be like, will it be a boy or a girl, what will you name your new bundle of joy?  You can’t wait to tell people your news.  The time draws closer and you’ve gotten the nursery all set up, taken your classes and packed your bag.  You’ve done so much and now you wait – the time seems to pass at a snails pace.

And then the big day comes, and before you know it you’re home holding your beautiful new child.  After the first few weeks when all the well-wishers have said “welcome!” and things begin to settle back down and life return to normal, ….

Well, it doesn’t!  And you start to realize that “normal” as you knew it will never be again.  You’re exhausted now that you’re waking up every few hours to feed this “bundle” who seems always hungry.  If you’re not doing that, your changing diapers, getting bottles ready, making trips to the washer and dryer.  Wait – no one told you that your laundry would increase at least 5 times?!  You still have to grocery shop, make breakfast, lunch and dinner, take care of you while taking care of your baby.

Not only is there so much more to do, you have so much less energy to do it all.  It’s amazing!

As a mother of three young adult children, the message I most wish I could pass on to new parents is “treasure every moment!”  Even in the midst of all this chaos, treasure each little bit.  Because before you know it those precious moments will be gone and you’ll be standing where I am now saying, “Oh my gosh!  How on earth do I have adults?!”  Yet I know that is a message just about impossible to pass on.  It’s hard to conceive until you’ve gotten here.

Motherhood can be incredibly overwhelming.  I had times when I was such an overwhelmed mom that I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the next hour, let alone make it to the end of the day.  But there’s a lot you can do for dealing with overwhelm.

Six Strategies for Overwhelm:

  • First, acknowledge that you are overwhelmed.  It’s ok to admit that you’re not superwoman.  Every mom feels overwhelmed at times.  Life demands that we pack our plate so full it looks as if we’re feeding an army.  Do this.  Do that.  Do it this way.  Do it that way.  Do more.  Do less.  Do Do Do Do Do…  As a unique human, woman, mom with a unique life of your own, you can’t expect to be the best at everything.  We all have areas where we excel, just as we all have areas we need help and support with.
  • Maximize your moments.  Did you put the emphasis on “moments”?  Because I’m really talking about your moments.  I’m a strong advocate for taking time for you.  (see my article on guilty moms).  OK – I hear that “ya right!” response from many of you out there.  Yet I encourage you to find some piece of time each and every day that is only yours.  Can you stay 5 more minutes in bed by yourself?  Do you take a shower each day?  How about trading time with other moms from the neighborhood, or school?  Stop on the way to day care at the end of the day.  You’ll find the moments if you look for them, and instead of filling them up with the next task on the list, take a moment to take a few deep breaths and slow down.
  • And this leads to time management.  If you haven’t taken time to organize your time, I recommend putting that on the top of your to do list.  By giving you a clear view of what’s coming up, time management helps you to prioritize tasks and activities.  Research says that mothers who organize their time are less prone to stress and anxiety.  Remember that wasting time and complaining about it gets you nowhere, but if you know what you want to accomplish and when, you’ll have more time for you, your family and your friends.
  • With many of the same benefits of time management, prioritization is also important in helping decrease your sense of overwhelm.  Ask yourself, “What matters most to me?”  If you’re a mom whose priority is spending as much active time with your children as possible, then maybe you don’t need to wash the floor each day.  On the other hand, if you’re a mom who feels comfortable only when the house is spic and span, then by all means, put that at the top of your list.  Ask for ideas and input from others, but don’t let them tell you what should be important.  Only you know yourself and your family best.
  • Organization is also a good tool to cultivate.  I recently coached a mom who discovered that simply taking the time to fold the laundry and put it away saved her lots of frustrating time each morning digging through a clean pile to find socks that matched for each of her children.  Have a place for everything and be sure to put it where it belongs.  Right away you’ll know just where to go for what you need and not spend time trying to remember where you last used it, or which counter you dropped it on while you raced to the next need.
  • Make and maintain friendships.  There’s nothing like knowing you have a friend to lean on when you’re feeling at the end of your rope.  Have a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, arms to get a hug, an experienced mom to share her wisdom, and be there for them.  It’s true that sharing the load eases the burden.

One of my favorite authors when I was a growing mom was Art Williams.  Although I couldn’t tell you what was between the covers, I can tell you that the title of his book has carried me through when I wasn’t at all sure I was doing this “mom thing” right, or well, or enough.  “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough!”  You go girl – you can do it!

Lee