15 Ways to Conquer Mom Overwhelm
Mom life is tough. You’ve got about 50 problems coming at you at once and you’re just trying to keep everyone alive without going insane.
When my 4 kids are all screaming at once, there’s a puddle of pee on my floor, and my house looks like the aftermath of a tornado it takes a lot to not lock myself in the bathroom and cry.
While the joys of motherhood are real and intense, so are the dramatic lows where you find yourself locked in a bathroom with little fists pounding on the door as you cry in frustration and despair.
While it’s impossible to be The Perfect Mom™ (newsflash: she doesn’t exist) there are many ways that you can keep overwhelm at bay. These simple habits will not only help you avoid overwhelm, but be happier and healthier.
1) Make your health a priority.
This is most important thing you can do, and yet it’s the first thing that gets kicked to the curb when overwhelm hits.
But think about airplane safety. The flight attendant always goes through that little thing where they remind you that in case of an emergency to put on your own mask first.
This absolutely applies to motherhood.
So many moms put their needs last, afraid to take care of themselves thinking it will take away from their kids. But it’s not a win-lose game where if you are focusing on yourself, your kids are missing out.
It’s actually the opposite: The better care you give yourself, the better equipped you are to take care of your family. You can’t give your kids your best when you are running on empty and about to lose it.
2) Get enough sleep.
Quality sleep may be challenging as a busy mom, but it’s possible. It’s just not going to happen on it’s own. It’s gonna take some effort to lay this important foundation for your health. Here are some strategies to improve your sleep.
Sleep should be your number 1 health priority. Your sleep is 100% linked to basically every part of your health (weight, energy level, skin health etc). It’s also directly correlated to the amount of patience you have (which comes in handy as a mom).
When we are exhausted, we eat entire bags of chips and move at a snails pace as we try and attack our to-do lists. We lose our cool and yell at our kids. Great sleep is the foundation for being a happy, healthy, and organized mom.
3) Wake up before your kids.
Waking up before your kids will supercharge your productivity and give you important “me time” when you are energized.
Even if it’s just enough time to get dressed, brush your teeth, and set your intentions (see #5). Waking up before your kids puts you in control of your day from the beginning. You’re not just responding to the bedside demands from your children as they ply you from your covers.
I find that waking up early, exercising, and getting a few thing done before my kids are awake honestly makes me feel like there are more hours in the day. For tips to wake up early, check out these 9 fail-proof tips.
4) Make your bed.
If you’re skeptical of this one, I get it. I used to think making my bed was the biggest waste of time. That is, until I actually gave it a shot. Now I’m a full believer in the power of making your bed everyday.
Making your bed right when you wake up gives you and immediate and visible “win” for the day. You get a little jolt of happiness/and or feeling of accomplishment. Starting your day with an easy win, sets you up to start knocking more tasks out of your way.
Also, one major source of mom overwhelm is clutter and disarray. Simply keeping your bed and bedroom in order will soothe your worried soul when the rest of your house looks like a tornado swept through it.
Simply, I get more done on days that I make my bed.
5) Set your intentions for the day in the morning.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. This is especially true for moms. You’ve got a million things coming at you at once and little people to keep alive.
So how can you manage your home, family, AND prioritize your health? At the start of your day, you’ve got to determine what the most important things you can accomplish today. Where will your focus be?
This can take many forms. For example:
- to-do lists
- talking it out with your spouse
The key is to decide, right off the bat, what are the few things that you want accomplish for the day. Then you don’t let the little challenges (that inevitably come) derail your day.
For example, if my goals are to be an attentive mom and to get some meal prepping done, then a dirty house or an unexpected phone call wont throw me off. When my child slips and falls, I’ll snuggle her and ignore my messy house. When someone calls to chat, I’ll find a way keep it short and get back to making meals.
6) Find an exercise you enjoy & do it regularly.
We all know we should be exercising. The benefits are awesome for both physical and mental health. It boosts your mood and gives you more energy throughout the day.
But the key isn’t just exercising, it’s actually finding something you want to do. If it’s not something you look forward to, you aren’t going to do it when life gets crazy. Which then just makes life harder to handle.
Find an exercise activity that you like and schedule it regularly. Not everyone has to love the gym or running or crossfit. Don’t beat yourself up or try and force yourself. Find what works for you and you’ll actually look forward to doing it.
7) Pick your battles wisely.
Every day, you are bombarded with challenges. But YOU decide which are worth even dealing with.
You can’t do it all, but you can do what is important and valuable to YOU.
For example, I do not battle over my kids clothes and hair. It does not affect my happiness one bit. Instead, the fact that they dress themselves from about age 2 and on makes my life considerably easier.
Do they look like they were dressed by someone dropping acid? Sure! But they love having control and autonomy over how they look. And I skip any battle over brushing their hair or making sure they match.
(Note: We do “brush our hair for Jesus” so they look presentable at church. Usually.)
On the other hand, I am really concerned about creating healthy eating habits. Therefore, I put a lot more energy and effort into preparing healthy foods and encouraging them to like things that are good for their bodies.
Pick your priorities and let go of the rest.
8) Shower & get dressed everyday.
Showering and getting dressed for the day will make you more productive and efficient.
Mind you, “dressed for the day” does not mean you need to be ready for an Instagram lifestyle shot. It means you are clean, clothed (no pajamas), and have brushed your teeth. Figure out what kind of daily “uniform” is easy to throw on. but makes you feel “ready”.
By the way, this shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Remember, dry shampoo is your best friend. It’s going to save you so much time!
9) Spend 15 minutes on laundry every day.
Spending a little time everyday doing something is far more effective than massive and sporadic bursts of activity. This principle applies perfectly to that fearsome beast: laundry.
A little everyday will ensure that it doesn’t ever get out of control. Think about it: in fifteen minutes, you can throw in a load of laundry and fold the laundry from your load the day before.
This has absolutely changed my life. As a mother of 4, laundry plagued my life. Especially folding. Ugh. I would do one big push a week, gathering, sorting, washing. It was a massive undertaking. And I could never manage to get much folded. Which meant living out of the clean laundry baskets (a time-sucking habit).
But now, I fit my “laundry 15” into my regular morning routine of taking care of kids and cleaning up after breakfast. I spend far less time on it, yet it never gets out of control.
10) Give individual attention and snuggles to each child daily.
Having 4 kids means that this takes some thought. But this goes a LONG way to create a happy home.
Lot’s of snuggles make happier kids. And crabby kids make for a crabby and frustrated mama.
Remember, most crabby kids don’t need a lecture: they need a good long hug. More snuggles usually translate into a happier day. For everyone.
11) Have a reliable babysitter (or several)
There are a few facts of life you can count on. Water is wet. The sky is blue. And you need to get out of your house without your kids.
Whether on a date with your husband or when an emergency pops up, you need someone you trust that can watch you kids. If you don’t have family to rely on, it sometimes takes time and effort to find these people. But it’s worth it.
Also, having a mother mom friend with whom you can trade babysitting is magical for a busy mom. I highly recommend finding a trading buddy. I’m lucky enough to live just a few miles from my college BFF, so we often do date night trade offs.
12) Live by 1 minute rule
This is simple: If a task will take only 1 minute or less to complete, do it right away.
Whether it’s putting something away, responding to a text, throwing away junk mail, or clearing off the counter. If it takes less than a minute, do it immediately.
This gives you 2 boosts: you get the satisfaction of getting something done plus it creates momentum to accomplish more tasks. And it keeps small tasks from building up and becoming overwhelming.
13) Use the “10 minute clean” philosophy.
When you have huge messes to clean and no time (i.e. every moment of your life), this strategy is perfect. Especially when you’ve just put the kids down for bed.
Muster whatever strength you have for just 10 minutes and do a whirlwind clean. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 10 minutes of focused effort.
It’s usually enough to get areas of your house in good enough shape to feel fine moving on to an essential task or going to bed (see #2).
14) Declutter, declutter, declutter.
The more things you have, the more messes you have to clean up. So the more clutter you have, the more time it takes to manage it and the crazier you feel.
My favorte decluttering stratiegy: Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
This book immediately changed my life. Not only did we get rid of 1/3 of our possessions and make hundreds of dollars selling stuff, but it made my home a million time easier to manage (and more pleasant to be in!).
If you feel like your house it cluttered, get this book, read it, and let the magic rain upon you like dew from heaven.
15) Have a soul-satisfying outlet built into your schedule.
You love being a mom. You adore your children. But you can’t be fulfilled as a person when you lose sight of yourself outside of your role as “mom”.
You need an outlet that makes your soul happy and makes you feel quintessentially YOU. Whether playing music, singing, reading, crafting, DIY, going to flea markets, or whatever. You need something that brings you joy and satisfaction apart from being a mom. And you need to do it regularly.
Banish mom overwhelm bit-by-bit
Being a mom is hard, but through the difficulty and overwhelm comes the moment of sheer bliss. Like when you see your child says “I love you” for the first time and gives you a big wet kiss. Or watching your child show kindness to another child at the park. When we put systems in place that help eliminate overwhelm, we can have more of those sweet moments of pure joy and fewer where we want to scream into our pillows. You don’t need to try and do it all at once. Start with one tip and see what happens.
You’ve got this, mama!