As a mom, you have probably felt defeated, exhausted and overwhelmed at some point in your young child’s life. If you are an active member of Instagram or Facebook, you might end up feeling even worse. Falling into the trap of comparison will only exaggerate your feelings of failure or dread, because people don’t always show the real deal.
On the flip side, being a parent is one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences you will ever face. There will always be challenges we face, whether it’s with our children, our marriage or day to day encounters. Setting boundaries and knowing your limits will help when feelings of overwhelm begin to arise.
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Even though I chose to stay home with my kids (and HATED working), there are many days I wish I was still working. Of course, these feelings tend to arise more on the difficult days, or the days I don’t feel well.
It’s not always easy being home alone all day, when your spouse (and what seems like the rest of the world) are at work. However, I know I chose this path for myself and I have been a working mom too, which is extremely tough as well! It doesn’t help that either way we are likely faced with some form of guilt from mom-shamers everywhere. Hint: do what works best for your family.
Don’t let anyone tell you that stay-at-home mom burnout is not real. Yes, feelings of stress, being overwhelmed, and even the inability to meet the constant demands of parenting are normal, but how can we combat it? Set a routine for your child, and yourself. Have expectations for each day and try to get out of the house too. Understand and come to terms with the fact that children will not always cooperate, so keep that in consideration for a smoother day ahead.
Just because I am home all day does not mean my house is spotless. Actually, quite the opposite. Yes I tidy up frequently, but I have little humans running around all day, so there is more of a chance for messes. When I was working all day, no one was home, so I didn’t need to clean up as frequently. I guess that’s part of being a homemaker, huh. Bummer.
I hate clutter. It makes me cringe and can send me into a cleaning frenzy in the blink of an eye. I actually used to follow my kids around as they were playing and immediately pick up anything they laid down. I quickly learned this is serving no one; they learn no responsibility for cleaning up after themselves, and I was exhausted and frustrated as a result.
The fix: chores for my kids! The perfectionist in me still cleans certain rooms and areas in the house because I like it how I like it and that’s that, but it never hurts for the kids to chip in.
Chores help to create a work ethic in young children, a sense of responisbility, and can even show them that they are indeed a valuable member of the family. Make sure the chores are age-appropriate so your children can complete them with little to no assistance. Stand back and watch in amazement as your little one become more indepdent and confident in their abilities.
I get tired of playing with ponies and swaddling baby dolls. My 3 year old has more energy than the tasmanian devil and she wants to PLAY ALL DAY. And naps? Those are a thing of the past. She does not nap because if she did, she would be up until midnight.
Don’t worry, I play with her, I engage her, and we do a lot of fun things together, but sometimes, I just can’t. I have posts to write (like this one!). Speaking of, there is a coloring book on my lap and I am coloring and writing this post in intervals. But multitasking is nothing new to you, mama! This is our life.
My savior: self-directed play. I actually began really encouraging self-directed play once my daughter stopped napping. It is my only opportunity for uninterrupted time to work on things that need to get done. And other times, I simply relax.
Self-directed play is a hands-on, child-directed experience that allows for independence, stimulates imagination and can encourage problem-solving skills. This is not really something that needs to be taught, as most children engage in self-directed play many times each day, completely unprovoked. And the best part about self-directed play is that children can use literally anything they can find; think cardboard tube, shoebox, sticks from the backyard and empty egg carton.
I will never be the room mom. You see, I had all these visions of what stay-at-home mom life would look like, and those were pure fantasy. I attend class parties, field trips, I have lunch with my son regularly, I even volunteer at his school weekly, but planning one of the class parties as the room mom is a no-go for me. These ladies (God bless them) go all out. They must plan the parties at least a month or 2 in advance. The thought that goes into these parties is more like the attention you would put into planning a first birthday party for your own child.
No detail is left unnoticed, food is better than the snack aisle at Kroger, and don’t even get me started on the games and activities. I am an over-achiever in many aspects of life, but this is something beyond that. I am so very thankful for these ladies, though, and I know the kids are as well.
As mentioned above, I do like the little details in planning sweet surprises, so I send my son lunch notes every day (pictured above). I draw a picture on a napkin and he is surprised day in and day out. At the end of the school year, I use ChatBooks and create a small flip book with some of the images from the year, and he keeps it on his dresser.
I remember all of the field trips my dad attended, school plays, and lunches he brought me, so I am confident that my little notes to him will be good enough and make a lasting impression. My point is, there’s no need to try to keep up with every little thing. The fact that you are present is good enough.
Sometimes my children eat ice cream cones and chocolate for lunch. You know that saying, pick your battles? Well this is often a battle I surrender in. My children eat well a good majority of the time. For my kids, eating well doesn’t necessarily equate to eating healthy, but they are eating real food.
My son is extremely picky, but is starting to turn a corner and is willing to try more and more. Luckily, my daughter is naturally a healthier eater and prefers to graze throughout the day, as opposed to sitting down to 3 meals a day.
We like to encourage our children to make healthy choices by offering healthy choices. You know how that goes..if it’s their idea, it’s a good idea. Go-to snacks for my kids include raw carrots, apples, yogurt, goldfish crackers and pretzels. We also have family dinners every night, no matter what. Even if my toddler eats nothing, she sits with us and has a plate in front of her. That is a non-negotiable.
Focus on the things that matter most. It’s the little notes, big hugs and quality time spent together that matters most to your children. The struggle from each day is just showing you how tough you really are and that you can handle anything life throws your way. Practice self-care and take time for yourself each day to avoid burnout.
Hang in there, mama. You are rockin’ it!
No one ever said it would be easy, and although the days are long, the years are short and these moments will go by in a flash. Some days will be better than others, but the joy is in the journey, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
What are some aspects of motherhood that overhwelm you? How do you combat these feelings? Would love to hear about it in the comments below! Let’s connect.