5 Strategies to Help Overwhelmed Moms Find Balance

As a mom (and maybe as a human being), I feel overwhelmed. And not only am I an overwhelmed mom, I feel like I shouldn’t be — I only have one kid, I work from home, I don’t have to worry about our basic needs being met — which only makes things worse because I become more overwhelmed that something is wrong with me for feeling overwhelmed in the first place.

It’s a vicious cycle perpetuated by mommy guilt, a culture of busy, self-doubt, and the weight of family, social, and/or work obligations. I know I’m not the only overwhelmed mom out there.

Here’s the best way I can describe it: I feel like I am the sun and my family orbits around me. When I walk in the door, before I can put down my car keys, the dog, the toddler and even my husband are coming toward me, blocking my way, wanting attention, jockeying for position.

Maybe I should find joy in moments like this — to be loved so much that all of these people/animals must greet me immediately upon arrival with as much energy as possible — but usually what I feel is overwhelmed. It’s a struggle to get through the door, a struggle to get my coat off, a struggle to keep everyone a few feet away from me so I can start the next necessary task (a meal, a chore, etc.), a struggle to have a moment to collect myself.

I don’t want to struggle. And I don’t want to be a constantly overwhelmed mom.

But I’ve realized that the problem isn’t them, but it’s not necessarily me either. It’s that chaos is a part of life, especially life with young children. And I can’t change that — the fact that I’ve been trying to change the chaos is (at least partially) what makes me feel overwhelmed.

I’m trying to shift my thinking and the way I react. Instead of trying to lessen the chaos, I’ve been looking for strategies that will allow me to function better in and through the chaos. Maybe if you’re an overwhelmed mom, you’ll find these ideas helpful — they cost no money, and most of them take only a few minutes and require minor tweaks to your routine.

Try these five strategies to help you feel more balanced throughout the day. Perfect for overwhelmed moms who feel like they don't have time to center themselves. All of these take less than an hour a day (and some save you time).

Strategy 1: Wake up 30 minutes earlier than your kid(s).

For me, this is HUGE.

In January, our family transitioned to a new routine. Last year, my husband worked the midnight shift, which was hard for many reasons, but when he came home in the morning, he managed getting our daughter dressed and off to daycare, giving me plenty of time and space to get ready for work. Now he’s on the day shift, which means he leaves the house by 6 a.m., while I am at home, attempting to figure out the transition from working full time in an office to starting my own business. It’s up to me to get our daughter out the door in the morning, which should be easy, right? It’s not like I’m on a hard and fast schedule.

I’ve mentioned that the process to get Emme dressed in the morning can be trying. This morning “routine” overwhelmed me; it made me feel anxious and frustrated, and I was struggling to bounce back from getting my day off on the wrong foot. Setting the alarm seemed unnecessary since I knew Emme would wake me up, but I finally convinced myself a few weeks ago that I needed to try to get out of bed before her.

What a difference having a cup of coffee by myself makes. The entire morning dynamic shifted, and not because she changed, but because I have a few minutes to wake up, enjoy my coffee, and relax — not dive in head first with morning toddler drama. But it’s funny, now that I’ve stopped fighting against it, the toddler drama doesn’t seem quite as dramatic.

Strategy 2: Do the thing you are doing even if it’s just for a few minutes.

As a blogger and a freelance writer who is trying to find work, I can easily convince myself that I’m “working” no matter what I’m doing. After all, I’m scanning freelance jobs, posting on Facebook, checking my email, chatting online with a friend, reading an industry blog, researching an article for a client, and updating my resume… all at the same time. Which means literally nothing is getting done.

This multitasking mentality creeps into all facets of my life. I turn on the TV after Emme goes to bed with the intent of watching a television show to unwind, only to sit down with my laptop in hand, screwing around on one million different websites, the TV on in the background. Or I’m trying to manage my daughter while texting with a friend and tackling random tasks (that never end up getting done).

Multitasking is necessary sometimes, but when you can, slow down and do the thing you are doing. Just give the task at hand five minutes of your attention.

Strategy 3: Take a deep breath.

Whenever you need to throughout the day — when you’re starting to feel anxious or frustrated, take a few seconds (just a few seconds!) and breath in. Count for a couple of seconds while you hold your breath and then breath out. Don’t worry, the mess your child is making will be there when you’re done.

Strategy 4: Create boundaries around social media.

Social media is a great way to connect with the world around us and the people we care about, but it is undoubtably a time suck. At worst, it can turn your energy and attention to something that makes you feel angry (your crazy uncle’s extreme political rants), judged (your “friend” who posts articles about how formula is poison), or lacking (all of the happy pictures and status updates that suggest that everyone else is living the perfect life). I don’t know about you, but sometimes social media just makes me feel anxious.

And yet it’s such a habit. I open my Facebook app on my phone without even thinking about it. I don’t even mean to do it, it’s just what I do. Here are some ideas to cut down on your social media time:

  • Try moving the social media apps on your phone every so often they are a little less accessible to you. You can also hide it in a “subfolder” on your iPhone — I can never find the apps I put in subfolders. #problemsolved
  • Change your phone settings so you’re not constantly getting social media notifications.
  • Attempt to keep your social media surfing to a few times a day — maybe once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
  • Let knowledge be your power: You can download the Moment app to see exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone. Though it doesn’t tell you exactly how much of that time is spent on Facebook or other social media apps, this information is still helpful for me because I know a lot of the time I spend zoning out on the phone, I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed. Challenge yourself to decrease that time.
  • Unfollow Facebook friends. You don’t have to unfriend people and make it a whole thing. Go to the profile page of the person who is driving you batty and uncheck “Following” to take that person’s status updates out of your feed.

Strategy 5: Meditate for 10 minutes.

More and more research suggests that meditation really can help relieve anxiety as well as other medical issues. I have been trying to get into the habit of meditating every day. I’d say I manage to do it 5 out of 7 days a week. But when I do take 10 minutes to meditate, I feel less overwhelmed and more balanced throughout the day.

I find if I mediate right before I pick Emme in the afternoon, it has a similar effect as my morning coffee — I’m suddenly much more capable of dealing with post-daycare toddler demands (milk! potty! crackers! Caillou! books! paci! apple! Frozen!), getting dinner on the table, and feeling, you know, content with my life not overwhelmed by it. On the weekends, I try to meditate when Emme takes her nap.

When I decided to try meditation, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I found Headspace, a website that provides a lot of information about meditation, and I downloaded the free app, which includes ten 10-minute meditations.

So what about you… Are you an overwhelmed mom/parent/person? Do you have any go-to strategies that help you feel more balanced?

20 thoughts on “5 Strategies to Help Overwhelmed Moms Find Balance

  1. These are great, and the overwhelming feelings you feel so real. I’ve been working on doing those five things myself, and boy do they help!

    • I agree! And yet, it can be hard to convince myself to take the time, but I’m working on that. Once it’s habit, it will be easier.

  2. Really great tips Lou. I know (as I always say on your blog heheh) I’m not a mother, but I feel like you give me these tips for the future, and not just for my future parenting, but life in general. The social media boundaries is a big one for everyone these days, i think. I turned all notifications off my phone and that certainly helped; out of sight – out of mind for me!

    • Thanks Jess! That’s a good one — I didn’t think about changing the settings to get less notifications. I’m actually going to add that!

  3. Thank you for this! I’m the same way, with only one child, but still things feel so overwhelming just taking care of her! For the past… I dunno, 6 months or so? I’ve been waking up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to get my coffee and computer time before she wakes up, usually around 7:00. Having 2 hours to myself might be a little extreme, but I feel so much better when I get my daily stuff done before she gets up!

    • I am working toward a 5 or 5:20am wakeup. The more time the better. I found that, especially with blogging, I felt a lot anxiety about getting online and promoting my stuff first thing in the morning. As long as I get up before her, I can totally do that.

  4. We must be on the same wave length! My post today is similar! I can say that the past month I have been getting up a LOT earlier…I am getting my workout in early in the morning and then doing a few basic blogging tasks. I still work outside the home a few days a week. This is making my evenings much less hectic because I am not trying to fit a workout in and do all my blogging while juggling a hubby and 4 kids! 🙂 I also LOVE the quiet peaceful house in the early morning! Great post!! Your are not alone in your feelings at all!

  5. As a mom we have all the to do things right. This is important work. But perfect isn’t right. Perfect is stressful. Today I made my 11 year old put on buttoned pants because he had wore exercise pants for 6 months! He thinks jeans are dress clothes. after him sulking around and being upset for an hour I told him “go put on what you want to wear” because you know really, in 6 months, one week one year, from now it doesn’t matter. Pick your battles. Let go of the crap that doesn’t matter. Good blog. Continue doing what your doing.

  6. These are so helpful, I too feel overwhelmed sometimes as a mom who works from home – I feel like its so constant. I have noticed that if I do yoga and some meditation before bed to wind down it really helps me sleep and wake up actually ready for the day! Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

  7. I am right there with you. Sometimes I feel so lost in everything that needs to be done… though, like you, I don’t feel like I NECESSARILY have a lot that warrants so much stress. But it is because we are the matriarchs of our families, and that IS a beautiful and sometimes difficult thing to handle. I fully agree with your strategies, especially the waking up before the house… HOLY BEAUTIFUL QUIET COFFEE TIME! I have even read recently that small moments of meditation every day has actually been proven to change the makeup of your brain… pretty remarkable. WOOOSAAAA fellow Mama!

  8. I know exactly what you are talking about. I’m constantly telling my family I need space to just be alone with my thoughts. It’s funny how moms make the home go round! Great tips #mommymeetupmonday

  9. I know exactly how you feel about being overwhelmed by feeling overwhelmed! While I haven’t done so consistently, I’ve tried all of these strategies here and there and always find them to be helpful. It’s just a matter of making the commitment to getting a handle on the stress! I definitely need to make more of an effort, thank you for the reminder and for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

  10. Yes to all of this. Such a great post. In therapy, I learned that taking a moment to listen to yourself breathe can make all the difference and for me it really does. I’m going to try creating boundaries around social media because I think that is where I struggle most. Thank you for sharing this! #mommymeetupmondays

  11. I desperately need to wake up before my son. I know I need to. But gosh… I just want to sleeeeeeep. I’m guessing though, that after you start, you quickly get used to it. Right?! I hope so. Ha. Thank you for the encouraging post! I’m going to implement these things 🙂

  12. I typed in “overwhelmed mom”. This came up. I too am the 1 child, stay at home mom who is overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed that I even AM overwhelmed because seriously. I am living the dream, right? Thanks for being real and for the tips!! I have much hope for a better day tomorow 🙂

  13. I have two teenagers that actually want me around. I’m single/divorced and the job I actually have passion for is understaffed and I regularly work 55+ hours a week. I scream and yell at my kids way too often, Leave Me Alone..then they are hurt which causes more stress, because then I’m not good enough. I have OCD and ADHD have gone to counseling and know that I am not ever going to be perfect. I am 35..I am selfish at times and I try to be everything at times..today all I want is to not be needed. I want to disappear. I have nobody to ever help..my kids are my help.. we are all we have, but I’m the only adult in a position to do certain things that need to be done. My kids would do all the adult tasks if they could, and my daughter is learning to drive..already volunteering. Im scared of them growing up and leaving, but all I can think is that I want to be alone..,and realizing the selfishness in that makes me hate me…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *