I sat at dinner the other night in a complete fog. All around me there was chatter and noise. My three kids and husband were busy recounting their day, asking dad about the latest device updates, and talking about the upcoming weekend plans and their own personal opinions. I was feeling completely overwhelmed and my brain had checked out.
Work had been grueling the past few days. I longed to be able to drop it all the door, but the pressure that was felt and my desire to be successful was playing a tug of war in my head and heart.
If you are a working mom, you can probably relate on some level. Whether you work in or outside the home, doesn’t really matter. We all have areas that overwhelm us and cause frustration and fatigue.
What are we to do in the midst of this? How do we cope to a point of being proactive in our search to be sane?
What Causes Working Moms to Feel Overwhelmed
It is no secret that we are bombarded with a million demands and expectations. Moms who work have double or triple the amount of information overload coming in all at once. We are constantly juggling pleasing the boss, while synchronously packing our child’s lunch and folding laundry.
God wired us with the ability to do multiple things at a time. Even when we are at our “jobs” we are constantly aware of our phones and our people that may need us at a moments notice. Rarely can a working mom find time for herself.
But feeling overwhelmed can become more of a temporary season, rather than a state of mind. These 4 tips have helped me establish mind shifting and healthy routines that combat feelings of being overwhelmed.
Let Go of Perfection as a Working Mom
I struggled for years with making sure I had the perfect home. First born go getter, it has been in my nature to fight the desire to make the house look nice, the children look like angels, and my job to go smoothly.
At some point, working mama, we have to let some of this go. My mindshift happened when I started shifting my focus from perfection to progress. Rather than focus primarily on having it all together, I started focusing on making baby steps toward a goal.
This helped me let go of my unrealistic expectations that I struggled to meet everyday and instead focus on the goal of getting everything in my life to a place I desired…eventually.
When I focused on perfection I wanted to give up. But by shifting my focus to little steps, I was able to see progress. I started jotting down “long range goals” with categories underneath that were steps to get there. This method provided a much needed perspective and took the frustration I felt away.
Reduce Your Mental Stress
There have been seasons when my job has required a great deal of mental focus. It may be due to learning a new technique, following a new policy, or engaging with difficult colleagues. In these times it is important to alleviate mental stress at home.
We can not always prepare for mental stress, but in cases of knowing that things are going to ramp up at work, I often will make sure I have easy meals in mind and don’t tackle new projects at home. These are not the times for me start painting a bedroom (unless you relax with this sort of thing 🙂 or tackle a difficult writing project.
Give yourself grace and go back to you basics at home that are your own rhythm. This will give you a much needed rest when you aren’t “on the clock”.
Plan and be Organized as a Working Mom
I would like to say that in my 20+ years of working I have always been organized. But this is not the case. It takes time to learn this skill and what works for you.
If you are someone who needs to write down your meals, then do this. If you need a daily planner that lays out every minute–go for it. If you need to lay out your kids clothes the night or week before-no shame. Don’t compare yourself to other working moms. We each have our own methods and it is important to find them and what works for us.
However, if you are talking with other working moms, listen to their strategies and learn from them. Don’t assume what they are saying is right or wrong for you. Instead see if anything makes sense. Years ago I talked with a good friend who plans her meals out for a month. For me, this is way too involved and it doesn’t make sense for our family because we constantly have something coming up that throws it out the window.
But I can plan for a week and it feels good to do this. I have found it is much easier for me to swap meals within a week than get caught up in a month of planning. It is just what works for me. Follow your own rhythm. Experiment a bit. You might find something that makes your working and home balance a lot easier.
Practice Self Care
I can not emphasize this final point enough as a working mom. Self care is vital to your sanity. It is important to your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
We have all heard the analogy of putting our own air mask on before putting on someone else’s. In the world of motherhood and work it can be very fuzzy to find the line here. Sometimes you have to be firm and by all means practice the word “NO”.
As you progress in your career and your kids get older, it often seems that those watching think “she can work and be a mom” surely she can do A, B. and C as well.
Take it from a voice of experience, while it is an honor to be asked to head up the school auction, teach that Sunday School class, host all of the soccer boys for a pizza party, or volunteer to mail 1,000 letters–unless you truly have a deep desire to do this, allow yourself the chance to politely say no.
This not only will help you feel more confident, but it will also give you the time you need to rest and rejuvenate.
As with finding a rhythm in being organized, find one for self care. I have found that for myself, having at least a little time early in the morning to drink my coffee and read Scripture is refreshing for me. I also work to once a week get away for a couple of hours–or hide in my room and read a good book or watch a fun show.
As my kids are becoming more independent I can get away for a 30 minute walk without people getting too fussy. If my kids go with me, it is a great time to bond, but also gives us all some space from each other.
If you think about it, our kids and probably our husbands have regular “down time” built within their days. Allow yourself the same, you will be stronger because of it.
As you continue to work and mother, don’t be discouraged if it feels like you are overwhelmed. Instead find one area that can be made a little bit better and start here. Once this feels natural, add another. Eventually you will begin to be able to balance this work and mothering. Give yourself grace knowing that every day won’t be perfect-and that is ok!
Take comfort in knowing that your God is with you even in the midst of feeling overwhelmed. He will carry you through this season.
When my heart is overwhelmed, take me to the Rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 62:1, KJV)