Feeling overwhelm in motherhood is pretty normal.
Never take overwhelm as a sign of failing, but rather as a sign that you need growth.
In order to succeed at anything outside the home, relationships, jobs or even volunteer work or sports, we need to show up regularly, with a good attitude and with systems that work.
In most outside-the-home places where we grow and deliver our best, there are systems in place too.
- Begin the process of whatever it is that needs to be achieved.
- There is learning the process/system to get you where you need to be
- And then there is an evaluation of the process to ensure it is the correct system, effective and habitual.
When it comes to combating overwhelm in motherhood, you need to approach your overwhelm in three separate ways.
- the first is understanding how you got here, there can be many reasons for your overwhelm, from stress, taking on too much, poor sleep, lifestyle changes, poor routine and time management, screen addiction and even hormones can put you on the back foot when it comes to feeling overwhelmed in motherhood.
- the second is putting into place the important vs not so important things you need to get done and even just think about.
- The third and what is easiest to feel good about almost right away is coming up with a process to get you out of your overwhelm.
learning to self-evaluate
If you are here, having googled how to cope with overwhelm in motherhood, or I am an overwhelmed mother!
then you are aware of your feelings of frustration and fatigue.
But to truly make a difference, you need to know how and why you got here.
This takes honest self-evaluation, which isn’t always easy.
Where do you feel most overwhelmed?
Overwhelm in motherhood can be both physical and mental, the physical takes some thinking over, and the mind takes some understanding and reflection.
What you can do to begin to understand where your to overwhelm comes from is:
- take a step back, in the form of a small break, leave the house, ignore the mess and have a cup of tea and think about what is it right now that makes you feel overwhelmed?
- the next thing you want to do is understand how much you can fix, and how much you can’t.
- Perhaps you have a lifestyle change that simply needs more time for you to adapt
- or a new baby,
- pregnancy and your feeling tired,
- it can be a change in hormones,
- how is your diet?
- Are you drinking too much caffeine?
- are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you addicted to your phone?
- are you simply not making the most of your time?
- do you need to scale back your outside-of-the-home workload?
- do you need to child train?
- do you need to create better systems in your home to help you in certain areas and times of the day?
Can you meet the expectations you have for yourself?
when it comes to overwhelm in motherhood, it can often be that we have an idea of what we want, of how it could be or should be.
What we struggle with is getting there.
Before we talk about systems to get you there. We need to know if you should be there.
comparison is the thief of joy, and while it can be healthy in small amounts to want to level up to someone you admire, it is entirely unhealthy to compare yourself to someone out of feelings of inadequacy.
For example, I will use youtube.
There are some seriously organised mothers on youtube, they blow my socks off when it comes to how they are able to not only carry out their organizational habits but that they can even come up with half of them can make me feel like I am really inadequate when it comes to organisation.
I can react to this feeling in two ways.
- I can let the feelings overwhelm me, I can judge them to be better at motherhood and organisation than I am, and I can put pressure on myself, therefore, to be better. TO BE LIKE THEM.
- Or I can take inspiration from these women and understand that if I need more organisation in my life to HELP me I can adapt their ways, and get it in my home, in ways that work for me, and not me work for them.
UNDERSTAND GROWTH OVER COMPARISON
To Grow does come with learning, and to learn, especially in motherhood is a mix of trial and error and learning from others.
Trial and Error ends with a mother releasing something has to change, it’s the error, the long days of trials that arent working.
Learning from others can come in all shapes, it can be watching someone, listening, books, online, or from friends.
- Growth is seeing a problem and being willing to fix it, even if it means trying something you weren’t into before.
- Comparison is trying everything everyone else’s way, and becoming so overwhelmed with shoving other people’s habits and systems onto your life that you begin to lose sight of what makes you happy.
Seeing a problem and spending time searching for a solution online, is absolutely not wrong, but be willing to find what fits, adapt things to what suit you and most importantly, what works for you!
When overwhelm comes from no system
call it what you like, systems, routine, or in my word, Rhythms, your days as a mother needs some kind of routine, a habitual rhythm or a series of systems, in order to work.
I am not wrong about this.
SO if you are here and you have none of these, then you need to start, and if you have been living this way for a while then it may be difficult at first, but it’s not a bad thing.
WHERE DO YOU STRUGGLE?
WE can struggle in many areas or just a few.
I find that when overwhelm happens in motherhood it is because there has been a change, or perhaps a shift, that you haven’t quite caught up with yet.
There are obvious ones like having a baby, or moving house these are big changes, and the change itself is trying and can take a while for you to catch up with the change in pace in your home.
The other is more of a shift, perhaps your children are getting older, and you aren’t realising the shift in where you are needed and how that stresses your current daily routine and habits.
Perhaps it is a change in season or just growth in yourself and you are ready to up your ability when it comes to getting things done or starting something new.
Take note of where you are at, and understand that this is crucial to know how much you can realistically change.
knowing where you can change and where you have to be willing to set aside your goals is important.
knowing how much you should do vs what you can do
A mother should be capable, and we all know that motherhood is multitasking to the max.
But I don’t believe we should be encouraging a high stressed life.
Creating good routines and systems is going to help, but if you have unrealistic expectations for yourself then you are going to work a lot harder than you need to and this will tire you out.
If you have young children, you need a tidy home so that there is sanity and everyone can enjoy being in your home.
You do not need a spotless magazine home.
You need to meet yourself halfway, don’t encourage clutter that makes you a slave to cleaning, but also encourage yourself to relax by putting aside the cleaning to spend time with your children or doing other things.
To know where you are at, you need to evaluate your realistic abilities.
ME for example.
I would love a home that is more pleasing to the eye, more rugs, more books on tables ready for me to read, bathrooms without used towels hanging up and a kitchen that has breakables where you can see them.
Can I have this with five children?
I suppose I could. If I didn’t let my children in the kitchen help if I spent time cleaning the bathroom every day and doing extra washing if I didn’t let my children play in the sitting rooms so they looked how I wanted all the time.
But that takes me away from what I know is important, consistent homeschooling, teaching my kids to cook in the kitchen, reading to them, and the many other responsibilities, as well as rest time.
I have put aside unrealistic expectations.
Where can I really be better?
I can put in place systems to help me leave the house, which I can feel very overwhelmed at doing when I am alone with all 5.
I can cull toys that arent used, batch cook, get up early, live to a routine and teach my kids good habits.
Know where you can improve and know where you need to adapt.
READ THESE POSTS TO GET YOU ON YOUR WAY TO OWNING YOUR MOTHERHOOD!
5 steps to combat overwhelm in motherhood.
Grab a pen a paper and take some notes, get ready to assess yourself and your lifestyle in order for you to answer the questions needed to get you out of your state of overwhelm in motherhood.
step 1. Is your current routine working?
If you don’t think you have a routine at all, even if you have only a baby and you feel that you let them dictate the day, that is okay, but if you are unable to get things done, or you have no time to yourself or mental clarity about where you are headed then you need to get yourself into a better routine. you can read the posts linked above to help you get started.
If you have a routine does it?
- help or hinder you throughout the day?
- Are you able to get basic things done?
- Are you waking early enough?
- Are your children waking too late?
- Do you feel overwhelmed when walking into an area of your home because you cannot maintain it?
- Do you struggle to end the day with some much-needed alone time?
- Do you always feel overwhelmed by your workload?
- Do you get a period of quiet or at least alone time each day?
- Are you able to cook meals on time for your family?
- Do you feel permanently stressed, tired and emotionally spent?
A Good routine and child training. should get you in a better place,
it should slowly move you toward your goals, it should deliver time to spend with your husband, you should be able to have a small time in the day where it is quiet, you should have time to cook, clean as well being with your children.
There are seasons to routine, some seasons are full of highly active periods of the day, and they can feel extremely rewarding as you seem to ace all the things you wanted.
others are slowly, young children require more hands-on time and can help less so you get less done, the new baby season is slow and steady, you get things done, but a bare minimum and choosing to embrace a break from achieving more is okay.
Older children can help out more in the home but can require more mental action, and this can leave you tired and need a period of rest and alone time at least every few days.
- Try and assess where you are.
- Where do you struggle? at certain times of day, doing certain things or feeling no mental clarity
- Where do you need to be better?
- Where do you need to let things slide?
- And where you need to add a system to help you in your overwhelm
step 2. what can you spend less time doing?
If you have a time or space in your day that makes you overwhelmed then you may need to spend less time doing something else in order to take on that which overwhelms you, even if it is only for a short time.
I find overwhelm can come when we take on too much.
I can relate to this, since I have this blog and my youtube channel I do sometimes feel overwhelmed with juggling my homemaking and mothering tasks and my blog.
How do I combat this overwhelm?
- I have learned to plan better, I was not much of a planner but now I need a plan or I will fail and feel constantly overwhelmed.
- I have promised myself that my home and my family come first. If I feel overwhelmed in my home I will work on that first, as I know that it is my first priority.
- I have set more systems in place to help me be as productive as possible while not tiring me out.
As a mother, your family and home come first.
This mindset is crucial.
Home is where we find rest, joy, and true fulfilment.
Everything else is extra.
So if you feel overwhelmed because you are taking on something ELSE.
Then you need to find a healthy boundary, there is nothing wrong with some self-sacrifice, early morning, late nights, or being more productive during the day.
But do not try and reduce your mothering and homemaking to reduce your overwhelm.
You can train your children, you can create a better routine, better systems to help you achieve more, and that may include sometimes EXTRA, but don’t sacrifice your home life and therefore create overwhelm.
If you cannot do it, then for now you have to make a choice, and if you can, drop the extra, and enjoy the joy from being 100 devoted to creating joy in your home.
step 3. Set yourself some goals to combat your overwhelm in motherhood
these can be super small or as big as you like.
Create yourself some goals that motivate you in your overwhelm, so if you are in a busy season in life and you can understand your limitations rights now, then make some goals that are very small, ones that make you feel that you are working your way out of your current state of overwhelm.
- It can be setting a timer for 40 minutes a day to clean an area.
- It can be making your bed.
- Cleaning the basins each afternoon.
- Setting a challenge for yourself to fold washing every time you watch Netflix.
- Make yourself go for a walk, or just sit in the sun for 10 minutes.
If you need more time you can spend a few days getting yourself ready for a better routine by:
- cull your cleaning. This means, cull clutter, cull toys, cull washing too many dishes.
- Spend 15 minutes a day in an area and get rid of things you don’t use.
- Rotate or donate your kids toys, and teach them to clean them up themselves.
investing in your home’s systems is a viable way to maintain your stress levels, and your ability to exist in a home that is functional and peaceful.
- cull your kid’s clothes so you have less washing.
step 4. Where do you need to add functional systems?
a functional system is one where you create a habit, with or without functional items that keep you able to run smoothly.
A system can be a packed storage tub, a prepped baby bag, a meal planning strategy, a day to reset your home or a time in the day designated for decluttering or deep cleaning.
I am going to another full post soon in my homemaking 101 series on systems, but for now I will show you 7 systems you can implement into your lifestyle that can help you overcome overwhelm where it is most probable to occur.
system # 1. LEAVING THE HOUSE
leaving the house whether you do it daily or once a week if it makes you feel overwhelmed is something you can fix.
For me, it is daunting to leave my home on time, especially in the morning, with my children dressed nicely, matching shoes on their feet, myself put together, snacks if we need, water bottles, baby bottles and a clean freshly stocked nappy bag.
I am not going to admit how many times I have shouted in frustration when not one of my children can look presentable and we have to be out of the house NOW!
It did occur to me, however, that when it comes to my children under 6, it is me in charge of the leaving the house system, my older boys are pretty good at getting clean clothes that look good.
Finding matching socks, or even shoes for that matter however for my toddlers, sometimes was impossible and I would have to buy shoes before we could go to the park.
To cope with my overwhelm, I have developed a system.
- I almost always know when I am leaving the house at least the day before.
- So I prep clothes and have them folded and ready to go on the table before I go to bed.
- Shoes are cleaned and prepped near the door.
- I have two baby bags, the one I pack with snacks and water bottles, the other stays in the car.
- I make sure I know what I am having for breakfast and I if I can I will prep it the night before.
system #2. The lunch clean up-midday reset
If you practice quiet time then you have a period of quiet play or rest during this time, and while I don’t 100% prioritise having a clean home before this happens, it is nice and makes the rest of the day so much easier.
If I can I have the children eat lunch outside. this helps with mess.
I tidy the kitchen while they eat, and then make the youngest bottle.
once lunch is finished I set a timer and me and my three boys either listen to an audio book or some music and we clean as a team for 20 minutes.
When I didn’t have helpers I still did this, it meant I was being productive in my means and not endlessly cleaning away my quiet time.
Once the 20 minutes is up we stop, and quiet time begins.
system #3 once a week home reset
It doesn’t have to be your entire home. but in my post, house cleaning schedule for busy mothers I talk about a day in the week to take the time to rest your home.
It may just be the day you wash kitchen linens and bathroom towels, you may pick some greenery and set it about your home, or choose a room or space to deep clean.
It is a day set in your week that you can look forward to if you want to get something done, or want to slow the pace of your mothering so you can get other things done.
Friday is my reset day, and the day is slower, I don’t homeschool, and I allow myself to be absorbed into my home so that I can spend time somewhere that I feel needs attention.
It’s a way to help myself when it comes to not letting my home and its work overwhelm me.
system #4. put your kitchen to bed.
Once the children are in bed you need to take the time to reset your kitchen.
Putting your kitchen to bed some call it.
When you have young children this is important, waking to a new day and being able to tackle the first meal in a clean space can make all the difference when it comes to your feeling of overwhelm.
It isn’t always easy, we all get tired, and some nights are harder than others, but it ALWAYS pays off.
I actually get more strict with putting my kitchen to bed when I have a new baby. Even though sometimes I can be dog-tired, I know that the next day can be drastically affected by me being ahead of the game, and starting with a clean kitchen is crucial.
system #5. multitask where you can
In order to combat overwhelm in motherhood, you need to learn that small sacrifices can make a huge difference.
I very really watch tv, but I like Netflix and youtube.
I never watch them while doing nothing. I am always mixing my free time (and screen time) with something I could be doing. I fold washing, iron, and sort out a child’s clothing, I do my 20 minutes of daily deep cleaning.
Practice doing something when you can mix two things together.
There is nothing wrong with putting your feet up and watching a show at the end of the day, but if you are in a stage of young children or just being busy, then that may have to become a weekend treat.
think of things you can do when you are zoning out, perhaps during your quiet time, or when the children are in bed in the evening. I get all my extracurricular things done during these two times and while it sacrificing actually sitting down and truly doing nothing, I reserve that for Saturday nights.
system #6. simplify your meals or batch cook
I love to cook, and for me spending time in the kitchen is never time wasted.
However, there are ways I try and spend less time in the kitchen so I have time to do other important things as well.
Simplify what you eat.
Especially during the day. if you have children who want to eat different things then that is a sure-fire way to get overwhelmed at meal times.
You need to choose to continue that habit in your children of spending a few days breaking it.
a way to batch cook is to cook extra meat that you can use for different meals.
Think outside the box and google things you can do with leftover meat.
A roast pork shoulder can be slow-cooked and eaten as a traditional roast one night and then the next can be made into pork tacos.
Mince can be cooked and made into pasta sauce, and then into cottage pie another night.
Find ways to complete more tasks in one, without feeling like you are running a marathon.
system #7. create a bathroom kit.
clean bathrooms with multiple children living in the home can be hard to maintain, and I won’t lie and say it had never overwhelmed me!
I think that having a cleaning kit on hand all the time is important for your sanity as a mother, there is something about having dirty bathrooms that can put us on edge, especially if you have guests pop over with little warning.
or just that we are often the last ones in there for the day and looking about at mess is never something you want to see right before you go to bed.
A bathroom cleaning kit should have a spray bottle filled with soap and vinegar and essential oils if you use them.
Several microfibre cloths for drying and cleaning mirrors, and several cloths for wet wiping the basins and benches.
Another bathroom kit is your kid’s toothbrush kit and a hair kit.
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, face cloths, hair ties, hair gel, brushes and clips.
this should be in a tub or separate tubs for hair and teeth and shouldn’t be touched by children under 5.
this way you can get your kids ready for the day and know you have your kits ready to prep them and even do a quick wipe down when you are done with your bathroom cleaning kit.
step 5. are you distracted?
never before have we been able to be so distracted.
Phones, tablets, computers, televisions.
We can binge-watch Netflix, youtube, we can scroll Instagram endlessly, and we can keep up with everyone on Facebook.
do you know the signs of screen addiction?
every time you look at your phone your brain is given a dose of dopamine. Dopamine is our happy hormone, when you are happy and relaxed, this is dopamine, (the high your brain experiences from screens is very similar to the high from cocaine and just as addicting! )
When we abuse dopamine, and thanks to phones and screens we all probably do, then not only do we have too much of it in this strange world of man-made dopamine in our hands, but we also need more and more of it to feel just generally well and happy.
The outside world behind to get smaller as we no longer find things we used to reward.
We begin to lose interest, our sleep gets worse, and we lose focus on our thoughts when we are without it.
If you are addicted to screens some of the side effects are:
- Loss of interest and focus on daily activities.
- Real relationships take a back seat to virtual ones
- Symptoms of depression
- A decline in empathy
for more information, you can read this article here
How to combat overwhelm in motherhood in summary.
Self assess. Ask yourself these questions:
- what season am I in of motherhood?
- Do I need to adapt my day and mindset to suit this season or can I strive to do more?
- Am a growing in my motherhood journey or comparing myself to others?
Acknowledge where you feel you need to put more effort:
- where do I feel overwhelmed?
- time of day?
- area of my home?
- during a certain activity?
- can I create systems to work for me so I can make these areas better?
Am I distracted?
- how much do I use my phone or screens in general?
- should I delete my favourite social media apps for a time and see how I feel?
- am I okay with this?
- Note how you feel on this subject, if they idea makes you feel anxious, then it is probably best to do it!