Overwhelm is a common emotion in my house. Probably as often for my three year old as it is for me. The ebb and flow of daily life can seem to rapidly digress from busy into a Fibonacci Spiral in a seemingly short amount of time.
One week, we are coasting along, making all the doctors appointments, birthday parties and work deadlines. Sometimes even finding a little time for coffee with old friends and to Marie Kondo a closet. But without fail, a week later, I am busy. My husband is on travel, my worklife erodes out of control, my upstairs laundry situation becomes the victim of a toddler tornado and the best I can do is get the little people picked up, fed and in bed. It’s pure chaos and straight survival mode.
When the latter situation occurs it is easy to slip off the edge of sanity and start to panic. How am I going to get my hours in? Who’s going to pick up on early release day? You want to plan a birthday party at our house? The anxiety creeps up my from the ends of my finger tips and lodges itself squarely in my chest. Inevitably something will get dropped. Hopefully it won’t be something we can’t recover from.
Sometimes its hard to not let the fears and doubts creep up and derail you. It’s hard to keep focused and block out worry and feelings of failure. I find myself forced to concentrate so hard on not panicking, it can feel like a full time job. So for my benefit and anyone else who feels this way from time to time, here are the things I dedicate my energy towards when trying to overcome the struggle of not being overwhelmed by the countless requirements of this joyous, but sometimes difficult-to-manage life.
Never until I had children did I know a short-tempered anger monster existed inside me.
I shudder to think how my coworkers would respond if I yelled at them the way I have yelled at my kids. “Because I said so!” probably wouldn’t fly. Patience truly is a virtue. Sometimes counting to ten in my head is enough. Sometimes more reflection before responding when my kids are pushing my buttons is in order. Either way, being patient with my kids, my husband and myself is key.
Call it being in the moment or being mindful, so much can be gained from dedicating your mental space to the place and task your are physically on right now.
I say this knowing full well I STRUGGLE to do it myself but I keep trying to remind myself to try because it is so worth it. Whether it is paying attention to the scripture at church, leaving my phone in my office during meetings at work or really seeing and being present with my children at home, there is so much value gained by being present. I used to think I was a great multi-tasker but the truth is, no one is.
You can do 5 things at 20% or you can do one thing at 100%. Live 100%.
I won’t do work any good thinking about my deadlines from the church pews. I won’t do my kids any good thinking about missing bedtime from the office. Separate, dedicate and deliver while you are in the moment, for each moment.
I feel cliche even listing this, but it is true.
Very few things will help quell chaos like planning and preparation. For us, that is taking the time on Sunday or whenever we can fit it in to save ourselves the struggle later. Mom’s going out of town for work this week? Let’s get the uniforms washed today. Find the “mass dress tie” and get it in the cubby. Gather school papers, check for permission forms or registration packets, look at the calendar together. Any steps we can take to ease the chances of forgetting spirit day/picture day/our turn to bring snack/early release/late meetings or whatever, the better.
A little preparation now will pay dividends later. Check out other busy mom hacks for tips to save yourself time.
When all else fails, give yourself some grace.
So the baby was napping when you finished nicely folding all of those color coded clothes and now they are strewn across the hall? There is toothpaste smeared on the bathroom mirror even though you bought those kids a toothpaste dispenser so that wouldn’t happen? Can’t see the counter tops beneath the sippy cups and chewed up baby bottles (my dog is addicted to formula and steals from the baby). So be it.
Sometimes, you just have to let it be.
Prioritize the needs and focus your time where you will get the most return on your time investment. The dishes will be there when your work reports are filed. Eventually, you will wake up with enough energy to refold and rehome that basket of onsies. Until then take heart in knowing you’re the adult and no one is going to tell you to go pick up your room.
You got this, Mama, keep going.