Beat The Mother Overwhelm...Today
Being a mother is hard. Actually, it’s downright difficult some days.
Some of us work outside the home while others work fulltime in their family. Whichever you do, it doesn’t make the daily juggle any easier. The reality of being on call 24/7, doing a daily double shift and trying to present yourself as a knowledgeable, focused and engaging human can take its toll on even the most prolific of mothers.
If you’re like me, there are days when it all just gets too much. Like the day I addressed an important colleague as Peppa Pig instead of Pippa in an email. Or the day I realised that the 10-minute drive from the crèche to work was the only “me time” I was likely to get all week. Or the day I left my two daughter’s school shoes in the locker after swimming and didn’t realise until the following Monday morning as I yelled at them to put their shoes on.
Overwhelm Is A Natural Emotion
Dealing with the overwhelming responsibility of being a perfect mother, an attentive partner, a model employee, while maintaining a neat, organised household, will eventually cause you to wind up on the bottom of your stairs at midnight in a pool of tears and exhaustion. It just will.
Overwhelm is a natural emotion for mothers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an old pro to motherhood or tentatively learning the ropes with your first newborn – overwhelm will track you down and beat you up.
You Are Not Alone
The important thing to realise is that you’re not alone and there are many common reasons why overwhelm causes us to stumble and fall:
- Trying to be everything to everyone
- Trying to focus on too many things at the one time
- Being overly optimistic about the length of time it takes to complete a task
- Not saying no
The next important thing to acknowledge about overwhelm is that it’s a choice. A choice you make to do too much, to not say no or of trying to do too many things at the one time. You are in control of yourself and your time. You choose, nobody else.
If you’re like me, your to-do list and commitments generally outpace your time and energy. When you reach the point of sitting on the bottom step at midnight here’s what you tell yourself:
1. Overwhelm Is Not Real
Overwhelm is not real, it’s like the monsters under your child’s bed. It’s not something that’s going to attack you – it’s fear – pure and simple.
Accept that you will never get to the end of your to-do list and your inbox will more than likely never be empty. Accept that some days you won’t be the perfect mother to your children. And that’s OK.
3. The Power Of One
Understand that you can truly only do one thing at a time. Select the three most important goals for the day and focus on these tasks one at a time. Multitasking is a myth, it only tends to make you feel more overwhelmed when nothing gets done right.
4. Say No
Learn to say no – feelings of overwhelm tend to be heightened you take on too much. It’s acceptable to say no.
Delegate – ask your partner for help if you drowning in household jobs. And be happy when the job gets done, don’t find fault in how he’s done it. Better done than perfect.
6. Don't Forget To Breathe
Breathe – when overwhelm hits you’ll tense up…and you’ll just start doing random tasks like a crazy woman because you have so much to do. The only thing you really need to do is get a grip and breathe. Slow, focused breathes always helps.
7. Discover Mindfulness
Check out mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness you’re creating space in your mind —space to think, space to breathe, space between yourself and your reactions. It is a powerful tool when faced with the mother overwhelm.
8. Make Time For Yourself
And most importantly - Make time for yourself – You can’t be everything to everyone you love when you feel run down, exhausted and always last on your priority list. Take twenty minutes a day to do some exercise, meet a friend for coffee, get your nails done and do not feel guilty for prioritising your own needs.
So even if you have days where you turn up to the office or the school gate with a Frozen Elsa sticker on your back, you’ve got nothing planned for dinner (check out our C.O.M.M.I.T plan to remedy this) and you’ve mixed up the kids lunchboxes…it’s OK. Just breathe.
Co-founder, Pepper Hustle
P.S. If like me, you’ve found yourself on the step crying, it’s OK. Things always appear better in the morning. Please share any additional coping tools you use to beat the overwhelm.