“Ride the Crazy” and Other Tips for the Overwhelmed Mom

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Working motherhood can be exhausting. One overwhelmed mom shares how she copes with the responsibilities and pressure.

Call this “Portrait of an Overwhelmed Mom”: Laundry piles, a mail mountain on our kitchen table, dinner leftovers that need put away, steamed veggies that need to be processed for my son, and too many reports to finish for work.

Tell me when the laundry ends?

Tell me when the laundry ends?

Oh, and a shower. I could really use one of those.

This is my reality.

I am a full-time school psychologist with a 60 mile (each way) commute. I am the mother of a beautiful baby boy and a tenacious two-year-old girl, and wife of a pretty fantastic fella.

Did I mention that my family and I are moving in two weeks, and not a box has been packed?

My plate is full—understatement of the year.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt overwhelmed, annoyed, and tired. So tired.

Working motherhood- heck, motherhood in general, can be physically and psychologically exhausting. Aside from using this blog as an avenue to vent my frustrations (blogging is cheaper than psychotherapy!), I want to share the strategies I use to cope when I am feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps it may be useful to my fellow bleary-eyed overwhelmed mom.

Strategies for the overwhelmed mom

1. Breathe.

Sounds simple, we do it all day, every day. But, taking a minute or two to stop what you are doing, and focus on just breathing can be incredibly soothing.

2. Prioritize.

My messy house and mail pile are irksome, but if I don’t have a little time in the evening to sit down, and lose myself in the latest Lifetime movie, I’m going to be worse off. If you can, embrace the mess, and give yourself the gift of relaxation—even if it is only a few minutes.

Sometimes, a bottle for mom is necessary. Priorities, people.

Sometimes, a bottle for mom is necessary. Priorities, people.

3. Ride the crazy.

What I mean by this, is, if you have a lot going on, don’t try to change how you do things. Let things be chaotic for a time if need be. I feel like too often, we see articles about getting organized, or managing time effectively- for me, I’d like to focus on those things in the future, but for now, I just need to get through the next few weeks. I fully accept that things are nuts now, and I’m just going with it.

4. Know that times of great stress and overwhelm are fleeting.

Things will settle down and even out eventually. Knowing this allows me to ride the crazy.

I hope, one day, my work bag won't be this full of stuff to do at home.

I hope, one day, my work bag won’t be this full of stuff to do at home.

5. Talk to yourself.

For me, when I’m feeling like an overwhelmed mom, or ineffective, I list, out loud, all the things I did that day. Us mothers (and fathers) are pretty amazing when you think about how much we accomplish each day. We prepare meals for little ones, bathe them, dress them, coordinate their care, work outside the home (for me, it’s conducting psychoeducational assessments of school-age children, attending to students in crisis, and writing reports), manage the household, etc. We do so much, and yet, we berate ourselves for the things we don’t do. Instead of putting ourselves down, or committing to doing more, we should laud ourselves for doing the things we already do.

Now it’s your turn. Fellow mothers: how do you manage the chaos of working motherhood?

Kristi Blust

Kristi and her husband are the parents of a deliciously mischievous girl, P, born in 2012, and a handsome little fella they call E, born in 2014. Her days are spent working as a school psychologist in rural Pennsylvania. When she's not working, you can find Kristi chasing her children around the local library, reading, and/or watching the Food Network. By blogging, she hopes to offer some much-needed comic relief to her fellow warrior mamas, as well as generate some thoughtful discussion about work, life, raising children, and trying to maintain some sanity in the process.

17 Comments

  1. This was so comforting to read! I kind of had a meltdown with my daughter tonight (6yo) because the living room is destroyed yet again (and her room probably, I have not even checked up there), she is exhausted because she was still awake when I got home from work last night at 10 pm, I am exhausted and dreading going to my mom’s house this weekend (my mom is in hospice care and its tough spending another weekend there, but it makes her feel better) and my husband is gone until Tuesday night. But, this made me realize that I just need to “ride it out”…so, thanks for that reminder!

  2. […] Working Moms Against Guilt gives you tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed –from one working mom to another. […]

  3. Such great tips! It can be so hard to just breathe or recognize the things we have completed each day. And it’s so true that the challenging moment we are in will pass. I am actually amazed when I look back at certain periods of my life (something as simple as the Christmas season but with an infant and a toddler or when I had to have surgery on my wrist and wasn’t able to use my hand for an extended time – with 2 children). I look back and can’t actually figure out how I survived it, but we make it through! I think one of the biggest things for me is making sure I go to bed early at least one night a week. I’m always sleep deprived, no matter what, but if I can get in bed by 9 or so one night a week, I at least feel a little better.

  4. Kristi,
    Thank you so much for keeping it in perspective for us. My house is in the same exact condition. 🙂

  5. Thanks, Kristi! It’s the first article i’ve read on this website (just found out about you guys!!) and it’s already made me feel less overwhelmed! Must remember to breathe 😉

  6. Wow, I love the concept of listing the day’s accomplishments!!! Baby #2 is due very soon and I’m bracing for crazy.

  7. God bless all us working moms! That’s my home by Friday. Once in a while I call in a cleaning service to help me out. I need help!!

  8. Oh, yes! Great tips, especially about riding the crazy. When things get hectic around here, I have to organize like mad. See which things absolutely need to be done, and do those first. Everything else, however seemingly important, need to go second.

  9. THANK YOU! I embrace the mess everyday. My kids are 4 and 2. We moved two years ago and I still haven’t unpacked everything. I haven’t balanced a checkbook in years. (Who does that anyway anymore?) I pretty much have adopted the philosophy that if we manage to get everyone fed, wearing clean clothes, the trash out on a weekly basis and everyone is relatively clean and the bills are paid then we are doing Ok. And yes, breathing, prioritizing, are huge. I need that time to sit down in the evening too. This mommy does better when she gets a chance to relax, either exercising, watching TV or painting. It is great to be reminded we aren’t alone. Riding the crazy everyday!

  10. Thank you for this. Working 6 day weeks in healthcare and having 3 kids really is hard and tonight I felt overwhelmed and down. Now I feel a bit better. Thanks

  11. […] wave occasionally if need be. Every once in a while, even perfect you cannot handle it all. So let things be chaotic for the next few weeks and know that times of great stress overwhelm, but are fleeting. Things will […]

  12. […] si es necesario. De vez en cuando, aun la tú perfecta no puede controlarlo todo. Así que deja que las cosas sean caóticas por un par de semanas y ten en cuenta que los momentos de gran estrés abruman, pero son fugaces. […]

  13. This could be my house! Thanks for normalizing my life!

  14. Thank you so much for this. The past few weeks have been so rough for me. But you’re right – taking a breath, having a beer (yum, Oktoberfest!) and reminding ourselves of how much we do every single friggin’ day is important. I have 3 kids – 7 yo boy, 5 yo boy and a 2 1/2 yo girl going on 13. I’m tired of yelling. I’ve become the yelling mom and I hate it. Thanks for making me laugh.

  15. Reading other experiences that working moms have is wonderful. I feel like I struggle daily to make it all happen and it’s exhausting. I have super productive days and I have super non productive days – – – which is basically on the days I’m beyond tired. I’m trying to stay positive every day – Breath – Listen to music and not be so hard on myself. Who knew that my dream of being married with kids and my career would be such a nightmare LOL ( kidding but not )

    • I can relate with your last statement. Never imagined it would be this selfless and difficult.

    • I also have good and bad. It always helps to remind yourself what is important and not be sucked into a boring routine. I feel like having some fun, heals some of the stress.

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