Happy Mom Monday Everyone! for Mom Monday I wanted to treat you guys with a guest blogger named Faith, who I met in the Mom Blogger community. Thank you so much Faith for sharing these with us Enjoy these tips!
6 Basic Tips to Overcome the Overwhelm of Parenting
I have three beautiful children under the age of 4. All of them are unique. Each of them brings their own talents and problem areas to the table. Every one of them is deeply loved and cherished by their parents. Independently, only one of our kids has any kind of medical diagnosis which makes being responsible for her wellbeing a bit more involved. However, COMBINED being responsible for managing three little toddler tornadoes can some days feel like drowning on dry land. It took me awhile after each child was born to adjust and re-learn how to overcome the overwhelm of parenting.
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So now, I would like to share some of the raw truth behind my experiences as a mom of three very young and very dependent kiddos. Here's my best tips to help others facing similar feelings of frustration or exhaustion.
Tip 1: Teamwork
If you’re blessed enough to have a spouse or significant other who you can split responsibilities with DO IT! Make it a habit to have open and honest discussions with your parenting partner about areas you need support in. I struggled a lot with bitterness and even some level of resentment in the early days of my parenting journey. When my husband could leave the house, work a full day while I stared helplessly over my crying child at the rapidly growing pile of dishes or laundry, and then he would come home and act completely oblivious to the messes that were glaringly obvious to me. I hated that I had to notify him that the dishes needed done, laundry needed moved, trash needed emptied, or the floor needed picked up. He lived here, so how was he not helping me take care of these things?!
Thing is, I wasn’t asking. I felt I shouldn’t have to tell a fully grown man to look for these things, and in all fairness I still shouldn’t. The thing is, he didn’t know it was hurting me to leave those things uncompleted. He was tired after working a blue collar construction job and just wanted to spend time relaxing with his kids. Meanwhile, I was so mentally and physically drained from trying and failing to get everything accomplished that I also just wanted to spend some time relaxing.
Nothing was getting accomplished and nothing was changing. Until. I. Started. Asking.
I pointed out the dishes until he started doing them, and I informed him the laundry needed moved over, folded, and put away. I wrote up a list of things I needed done so I could breathe. And he responded. You’re a team, so communicate and work together.
Tip 2: Clean in Phases
As you can tell the state of my unfinished household chores often weighed heavily on my mind. My kids come first. Always. No exceptions. This left me disappointing them by not dancing to Baby Shark or watching yet another Cocomelon video. Instead, I was frantically trying to fold and put away laundry before a human tsunami knocked over my progress. Then I uncovered a strategy that actually worked quite well for me: The 10 Minute Pickup Strategy!
The 10 Minute Pickup Strategy
I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes, and set up a rotation of rooms throughout my house.
Kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom, Kid’s Room, Powder Room, Laundry Room, and Dining Area. I would start the timer and work for 10 minutes. When the timer went off I ended my task, checked on my kids, and moved on to the next room. In 2-3 hours my house was transformed and my kids were seeing me at regular intervals so they were less inclined to abandon whatever they were doing to follow me around. After each rotation I found a few minutes to sit and engage with my kids; I wanted to do this so they weren't neglected by my cleaning overhaul.
The 10 Minute Pickup Strategy may not work best for you. It is not a perfect fit for everyone! I highly recommend you find something that works and still grants you freedom to spend time with your children.
Which leads me to tip 3!
Tip 3: Make the Chores Part of the Fun!
Include your young children in the responsibilities of keeping up with the house. Many of us know the Cleanup Song to encourage kids to pick up their toys and put supplies away, but have you ever thought of your two year old helping with dishes or laundry?
Your toddler can probably match their own socks! Mindblowing isnt it? Give them a small basket of their own socks and tell them to match like ones together. You may have to fix it later, but a child who is ‘helping’ is a child not diverting your attention to another room for something else.
Your kiddos can help you make dinner or a special snack too! It might get a little extra messy, but a few extra hands can make light work once they have had a little practice!
One of my most daring moves was to put a towel down on the kitchen floor with a bin of warm water, dishes that needed soaked like cookie baking sheets or heavier casserole dishes, and handed my toddler a washcloth to ‘clean’ the items. The dishes got the soaking they needed and my kids had a blast playing in the water to help mommy!
Tip 4: Have A Plan
I can’t tell you how many times I have been so stressed over balancing doctors appointments, work schedules, babysitting arrangements, food, and finances that I forgot a bill or overdrafted an account because I forgot about a scheduled automatic withdrawal payment.
You’re human! It’s okay to not remember it all! For me, a long-term day planner really helped me get all of it out of my head and down on a concrete schedule. It also felt really good to cross things off as I accomplished them- there’s nothing like those moments where you feel like you’re winning!
A meal plan is also a great way to bring some control back into your grasp! Personally, I failed pretty miserably at this one but it did prompt me to learn about myself and how to double cook and save some for a separate meal! I love the grocery app OurGroceries because it allowed me to add in list items in real time and my husband could interact with the list in the same moment. It is so easy to call him and tell him to knock out the list on his way home or send him out while I compile the list.
Tip 5: Get Outside!
Much of that overwhelming feeling is emotional and stress-related. There’s a billion things you can try to relieve that stress and frustration, but one of the first things I will suggest is to bite that bullet and get yourself outside! Find a shallow creek to creek stomp, buy a sprinkler for the backyard, hand your kids some shovels and sacrifice a patch of grass to digging for worms, break out the chalk and get creative, vacuum the driveway or paint the fence with water; whatever you can do to get outdoors in the sunlight and fresh air.
It can be amazing how much of a reset it is on my mind to pack up the kids and head outdoors. Sure, I have to spend the whole time monitoring them and making sure they are making non-life-threatening decisions, but it’s different than being stuck in an enclosed environment. Plus, as a natural bonus, exhausted kids who nap are much easier to manage!
Check out my engaging Chalk Sensory Walk Activity!
Similarly, exercise and exposure to sunlight and fresh air are great ways to naturally combat stress and overwhelm. Just choosing to do some work outside rather than inside can be rewarding on so many levels! Trust me- take that step!
Tip 6: Engage Your Support System
This one might be the most obvious and still the hardest one for someone like me who struggles to admit they are struggling. It’s not a parenting shortcoming to need support in order to succeed!
My middle child has suffered from seizures for about a year and a half now and we have spent all of that time slowly uncovering the cause and treatment possibilities for her. This was an emotional load I was not prepared for, and the added doctor and specialist appointments surely did not make my stress levels any lower!
What did help was the people I had surrounded myself with! My parents and in-laws watched the kids for us. My oldest sometimes spent the night at a family member’s home for a fun ‘slumber party’ to lighten the load. Our church group sent us gift-cards and letters of support or encouragement!
It helped to follow moms group pages on social media and read blogs from parents with similar life situations to mine; this helped take much of that guilt and strain off my back. I learned many of my feelings were normal. I learned my kids were not harmed by my need for a little “me time”. In fact, learning to laugh at the circumstances that used to overwhelm me was a large part of overcoming the emotional battle I was in everyday.
Bonus Tip: Cherish the Mess
I know it’s cliche and it’s easier said than done, but truly learning to embrace the mess can help you shift your mindset from overwhelmed and frustrated to content.
Truthfully, your house wouldn’t be a mess if there weren’t people you love spending time there. Your dishes wouldn’t be piled up if you had no food or drink to enjoy. Your children will one day grow up to manage their own laundry and dishes and schedules and you will wonder what to do with all the extra time.
Live in the moment. Plan for the future.
You’ve got this!