While a women is pregnant, she is constantly reminded of the incredible experience of giving birth, the memorable moments that mothers forever share with their children, and how motherhood is one of the most rewarding aspects of our lives. While that is most certainly true, overwhelmed moms out there can vouched that there are also frustrating aspects of pregnancy and new motherhood—from morning sickness to the middle-of-the-night meltdowns. Don’t forget the unexpected skin side effects as well.
I’m no expert, but one of the most important things to remember is that there is no rulebook to being a mom. Every mom will find their own “right way” to raising their kids. If there’s one piece of advice I feel qualified to pass along to other new mothers, it’s exactly that.
Yes, you’ve totally got this: Ahead, read on for five things to remember the next time you’re feeling that sinking weight of stress on your shoulders, including tips from other multi-tasking moms.
If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.
1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out
By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.
As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.
The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!
Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.
2. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection
When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.
Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?
Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.
3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You
Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.
Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.
4. Stay Consistent with Decluttering
If your kitchen counter is cluttered with toys and mail and school papers, your mind feels cluttered as well. When your mind is cluttered, you feel overwhelmed.
SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO CUT DOWN ON THE CLUTTER:
- Do a 5-minute pick-up at the end of every day. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in 5 minutes.
- Have kids put their shoes and coats away. A disheveled entryway creates a sense of chaos.
- Keep the kitchen table cleared off. My whole house could look like a bomb went off, but if my kitchen table is cleared off, I feel peace.
- Have kids pick-up their rooms before bed. As part of your bedtime routine, ask your child to put away toys, books, and any clothes laying around.
None of the steps above take much time. And by decluttering your outer environment, you feel more inner calm.
5. Make Planning a Habit
I know that planning ahead of time can seem daunting. Like it’s just one more thing you have to do! But this is one of those tips that will make the future you so happy.
SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE PLANNING A HABIT:
- Decide on dinner the night before. While cleaning up after dinner, decide on what you will have for dinner the following night. One less thing you have to think about at 4 pm the next day.
- Do a 5-minute prep for the next day. Set your timer for 5 minutes and lay out tomorrow’s clothes, or get the bottles ready for the following day.
- Swap babysitting with a friend. Find another mom you like and trust and plan to swap babysitting once a week. You will get some time to yourself and in return, your kids will have friends to play with.
- Stick to a morning and night routine. Routines add predictability and create a sense of control.
When planning is a habit, you tackle the day feeling more energized and less overwhelmed.
What step are you going to implement today? What do you do that helps you feel less overwhelmed by motherhood?