When asked, What currently overwhelms you most?
Here’s what two moms said:
Sarah: Coming home from work to a dog that needs a walk, a kid who needs attention and after a hard day, breakfast dishes that still need to be put in a dishwasher that still has clean dishes in it, a work call that quickly needs to be returned before I’m truly done, grocery bags that have just ripped on the way up the steps and dinner that needs to be cooked…and then the dog is suddenly choking on a Barbie head while my hands are full with raw chicken. In other words: 6 pm.
Alicia: I think it’s having so many responsibilities to juggle. It seems like so many people are relying on me for so many things:
• My employers for all my work-related responsibilities.
• My kids for food/clothing/shelter/school/social activities.
• My husband for food/shelter/running the household/social activities/emotional support.
• My extended family for keeping in touch/visiting/remembering birthdays.
• My babysitters for payment/keeping to a regular schedule/support finding new jobs/etc.
• My friends can even feel like a responsibility – keeping in touch, maintaining relationships, etc.
The fear of dropping the ball on something is constant, because there are always so many balls in the air.
Can you relate?
Well, if you can, you’re not alone: feeling overwhelmed seems to go hand-in-hand with motherhood. And, as much as I wish I could tell you an easy solution to the problem of emotional and physical overload, easy fixes do not really exist.
And yet you can make changes that will impact how you feel day to day.
You can choose to:
1. Figure out what makes you feel overwrought and/or defeated.
2. Make changes when changes can be made.
3. Accept and let go of the reins when things happen that are beyond your control.
First, Ask Yourself: What in my current life makes me feel overwhelmed? Is it something you can do something about?
If it is, TAKE ACTION and MAKE A CHANGE
For example, Alicia felt overwhelmed because she had too many responsibilities and feared ‘dropping the ball on something’. But the number of balls you juggle is often, or sometimes in part, a choice. Instead of living in fear of dropping a ball, Alicia could choose to put a few non-essential balls down, such as finding new jobs for babysitters, remembering birthdays, visiting extended family, etc. You – the mom – need to be ruthless when you determine your priorities.
You must frequently ask yourself: What is essential for my own and my family’s well-being?
If what you are doing or thinking of doing is not on your top priority list, consider it a non-essential and let go of it, at least for the time being.
Second, if what’s making you overwhelmed is something you cannot control, acceptance is the key to get through the moment.
For example, Sarah felt overwhelmed because, all of a sudden, everything went wrong. If your grocery bags break, your child is clingy, a business call needs to be made, and your dog is choking on a doll head, you really have only 3 choices:
1. Start screaming, crying or ‘losing it’ in some way.
2. Throw up your arms and laugh (while removing the doll’s head from your dog’s throat…which Sarah did, but she said laughter was very far from her mind).
3. Accept your momentary powerlessness.
Life gets overwhelming at times for all moms. In those times acceptance with a shrug, smile, laugh or sigh is the key to serenity.