Anxiety can be part of who you are, or it can be brought on my mom burnout. Regardless, parenting with anxiety is a huge challenge.
Sometimes it wakes you up out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night, like a spooky phantom that won’t allow you to go fall back to sleep.
Other times, you can feel it slowly building throughout the day – until some random, small event causes a volcano-like eruption of burning stress.
I’ve had bouts of anxiety for years, but I’ve found that parenting with anxiety presents it’s own unique challenges.
If you are a mom, then I am willing to bet that you are familiar with this haunting feeling of anxiety and suffocation. This can be a normal part of who you are or it can be brought on by Mom Burnout (or if you are like me, it is a combination of both). Whether you feel this daily, or it has just happened once, feeling overwhelmed by motherhood is ridiculously normal.
My case of Mom Burnout looked a little like this:
I was a full- time working mom of three young kids. I was obsessed with being the perfect mom. I gave myself no grace, and soon felt extremely overwhelmed.
I always battled anxiety; however, when I am standing in a messy room with three kids screaming and a to-do list racing in my mind, it became much harder to cope with.
When I felt the anxiety coming on, I started to take parenting shortcuts, and I yelled a lot more. I wasn’t the mom that I wanted to be, which would stress me out even more. “Momming” was getting to be an overwhelming burden; instead of the magical experience I had pictured.
I loved being a mom, but I needed to change things. It took me a while to learn the importance of taking intentional actions to combat and avoid feeling overwhelmed by motherhood. Here are 5 simple things you can do when you feel utterly overwhelmed.
1) Ask for help
My house could be burning in flames, while we are being attacked by a pack of lions that escaped from the zoo, during an alien invasion, while my arms were falling off – and I STILL would have turned down help from anyone.
To say that I had a difficult time admitting when I needed help was an understatement. I was the oldest of five kids, and I take my birth order very seriously. I like to be a leader and I like to be in control. AND even if I don’t have it all together, I like to portray that I do.
As my kids got older, and busier, I started to get a taste for this Mom Burnout monster. Once I finally started to ask for help I realized two things.
First, people who love you WANT to help you. My mom, for example, would giggle with glee when I finally started to call her and tell her that I needed her. She would rush right over to my house, throw in a load of my laundry, scrub my shower, and take my kids out for ice cream.
Secondly, it felt A-MAZ-ING to get a little assistance and lighten my load. This, in turn, helped me feel like a better mom instantly.
Don’t be too prideful to ask for help. Give your husband an extra job, call a friend, hire a babysitter. You are trying to juggle 50 balls, and there is nothing wrong with passing off.
2) Take A “Mommy Time-out”
As a working mom, I felt guilty if I didn’t spend every single waking hour (that I wasn’t working) with my kids. I know it was a bit extreme, but I even avoided friends and limited my own hobbies. I thought I was doing something wrong if I put myself first.
It took me a few years, and a serious case of Mom Burnout, to learn that this was the worst thing I could do for my family.
Moms- we need breaks. We need to feel like ourselves sometimes. We need to recharge so that we can be fully there for our family.
Deliberately schedule time for yourself. This can be a weekend away or a night out with friends or your hubby. This can even simply be giving your kids an electronic so that you can sit down for 30 minutes, or putting them to bed 30 minutes early to read.
It doesn’t matter what your “mommy time” looks like. You need it. Your family needs it. Don’t skip out on it!
3) Learn to Say “No”
Listen, no one wants your chocolate chip cookies for the PTA bake sale if you are too tired and accidentally use salt instead of sugar. Do you get what I am saying?
Learn to say the word “no” to requests that may take you away from your family or cause extra stress. The PTA moms may hate me, but I am a busy mom who has learned what I am capable of. The school bake sale will survive without my crappy cookies.
4) Make a Realistic “To-Do” List
Making a To-Do list is a well known way to reduce stress. When you organize your thoughts on paper, then you can stop them from circling in your mind.
The problem is, if your list is unrealistic, your stress will only amplify.
Print out this REALISTIC TO-DO list. Include what you should get done today, and what can wait for another day. There is never enough time to get everything done in a day – so think about what can wait.
Most importantly, even if you don’t realize it, there are other accomplishments that you complete each day. Did you spend special quality time with one of your kids? Did you make someone feel loved? Did you do an art project? Be proud of these surprise accomplishments and jot them down. Sometimes these things you least expect are the most significant to your kids.
5) Vent to Other Moms
When I unload my feelings on fellow mom friends, family members, or even give the the mom behind me at Target who is yelling at her own kids a sympathetic nod, then I feel ridiculously refreshed.
You quickly learn that every single mom – in the history of the world – is in same boat as you (that’s a fact). You can start to laugh about the insane things you encounter on a daily basis as a mom.
Find your mom tribe and keep them close. They are your biggest medicine against Mom Burnout.
Parenting is an intense, rewarding, stressful, amazing roller-coaster ride. If you don’t deliberately maintain yourself, that roller-coaster track will break and send you crashing.
Take time to feel like yourself, and give yourself some grace. Of course we are overwhelmed- if you are anything like me then your children call you in as a missing person if you sneak away to pee.
If you follow these tips you will be a calmer, happier mother and your children will notice it.
And remember, if you disguise Chips Ahoy cookies as your own personal creation for the school bake sale, no one will really notice, right?
If you found this helpful, share it! And check out some other recent posts!
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- 9 Simple Ways I Cured My Anxiety Without Medication (and Why it Worked)
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- How to Respond When Your Kid Wants to Quit a Sport or Activity
- 5 Ultra Quick and Easy Mindfulness Hacks Designed for Parents