There’s nothing so discouraging or stressful than being an overwhelmed mom. On those days you want to escape from life, here are strategies for relief.
Lately I’ve been going through a weird phase. A phase where most days I wake up and think “Oh no, it’s not another day already…..!!” and just spend most of the day wanting to escape.
Wanting to escape from the constant diaper changes and corralling and correcting and praising and disciplining.
Basically, I’m a tired mom. And sometimes escape from all the responsibilities that are weighing me down in life feels like what I need.
But that’s not really how life works.
Life keeps going and we must somehow go with it.
There are people to feed, bills to pay, crumbs to sweep, and jumbo size Reese’s cups to eat. Unless of course you don’t have any. And then there’s an even greater need to escape.
Read: The real reason moms never have enough time (hint: it’s not because we waste it!)
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Stress relieving tips for the overwhelmed mom
It’s a stressful time for me, but not because I’m “busy” or can’t say “no.”
It just is what it is and I can’t change it. When we have young kids, it’s more important than ever we have proper boundaries because a lot of little kids can lead to feeling like an overwhelmed mom a lot of the time.
And because of that, I’ve been trying hard to find ways to escape, and then not escape, when that feeling takes me over.
Quickly, let’s dive into why moms become overwhelmed:
While this isn’t comprehensive, it covers a lot of areas that are stressful for moms.
- Babies and kids aren’t sleeping well |You can start meeting your own children’s needs for sleep by sleep training, and it will help meet your own as well.
- You don’t know your limits | The quickest way to mom burnout is not knowing our limits or feeling like they’re constantly being walked on.
- The house is a nightmare | Some of the mess you may have to ignore, but you can start some easy tidy routines that go a long way.
- You feel alone | If your husband doesn’t help much or you live far from family, it can be isolating and hard to ask for help.
- The kids don’t listen well | It can feel out of control when our kids don’t listen. Here’s how to get your kids to behave.
Neglecting your own physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs for so long―in an effort to be a selfless mother―leaves you depleted. Being well blesses your family! Learn WIN WIN strategies in my upcoming book!Learn More
Is my desire to escape selfishness or sanity?
Sometimes I’m selfish. I’ll admit it and don’t think anyone can say they aren’t selfish from time to time.
But sometimes, dadgummit, I’m not being selfish when I say I want to escape. I need to get away and have a break for my own sanity. If you can distinguish the difference, and know that you aren’t doing it from a selfish place, then the false guilt will go away.
And this can happen even if we’re doing everything “right.” Waking up earlier than the kids to pray or prepare for the day and being diligent about finding time alone.
Having set independent play times for the kids or putting the all down for a nap so you can rest yourself.
So many aspects of life are out of our control so being in a stressed state does not always mean you’ve done something wrong.
How overwhelmed moms plates are overflowing, and the role of false guilt
Mothers feel so guilty for so many things. In fact, we often ignore our limits then end up burning out… simply because we felt too guilty to stop.
I used to feel guilty that I had to work sometimes during the day. Until I got a grip and realized that all my children require food, shelter, clothing, and the trip to the doctor so guess what? Those things cost money.
And you know who does not earn any money or create goods I can barter for food or car insurance?
So there we have it. Working is a necessity. Bye bye false guilt. Don’t slip on all the unraked leaves on your way out.
I can’t feel guilty if my kids occasionally see me on a computer or checking an important email on my phone. If your kids need to kill a few hours at your work so you can finish your responsibilities, that’s just part of life.
Signs you actually need some time to do what needs to be done
- When you want to escape so you can get some things done that need doing, this is a big sign that you actually do need some time to get things done.
- You need to take a day or two and finish the to do list.
- You need to ask someone to watch your kids so you can work, clean, or go to an appointment.
- The desire to flee in this case is just a need to get things finished.
Read: How to live within your limits and hold your boundaries
The overwhelmed / escape cycle we create if we’re not careful
Some days I just want everyone to leave me alone for goodness sake so I can rest and read my daughter’s Nancy Drew books.
But I can’t, so maybe, to bide some time… I put on a movie.
The older kids may watch it, but the younger ones may not, then I end up with some negative behavior from the kids who watched the TV and a big mess from the little ones who were playing completely unsupervised.
Do you forget to sleep, bathe, eat, relax, etc.? NO MORE. This tracker will help you consistently live within your limits so you have more love to give to your family.
So then I’m worse than before and maybe even ticked that the ploy to escape didn’t work.
I realized the kids weren’t the root cause of my stress – my lack of understanding about my boundaries was – so escaping them wouldn’t help.
And actually, by escaping them, I was creating a cycle. A cycle that is the opposite of a happy cycle. I wanted them to leave me alone because I felt stressed. They picked up on my stress and my desire to avoid them and they became clingy and needy and whiny.
Their exaggerated behavior made me want to drive (alone) to the Tabasco factory in Louisiana with a block of cheddar cheese and a box of Saltines and eat until I burned my tongue off.
And we go round and round.
Trying to work through some mindsets that hold you back? These cards will help you get focus on the right things.Learn More
How being present in the moment actually IS an escape… at least partially
So I sat back, prayed and prayed and prayed though I don’t even know what I asked for because I just felt like such an overwhelmed mom I didn’t even know where to start.
And then I decided to escape to the right place at the right time.
- If I needed to get work done then I’m going to stop feeling guilty about that.
- I’m going to find a way to occupy all the kids so I can work.
- If I am stressed because I have practical things that need to get done, then I’m going to ask for help and get them done.
And then sometimes… I’m going to escape to the kids.
Who says Facebook is more interesting than listening to my 3 year old talk about how girls can go into space? Why on earth is TV more interesting than running around in circles with the kids and pulling a hip flexer (is that a thing?) trying to impress them by kicking a ball really far?
So instead of fostering that feeling of “get me out of here” I’m going to be real. I’m going to do what I need to do, what I really need to do.
Read: How to be a present mom without going insane
Don’t end the day with anxiety, stress, and a full mind.
This evening brain dump journal sheet will help you get in a peaceful mindset so you too can sleep peacefully through the night.
You can break the cycle of overwhelm, mama!
But after I’ve done what I need to do, if I’m still feeling like a completely overwhelmed mom, I’m going to start escaping into the moment with the kids.
Escaping from the pressures that don’t always need to fill my thoughts.
Escaping from my to do list and grown-up worries.
We’ll play ring around the rosie and hide and go seek. I’ll have freeze dance parties, play tag, and kick the ball until we get tired of it. I’ll snuggle, cuddle, and put my worries aside when I look my kids in the eyes.
Instead of trying to escape from them, I’ll escape to them.
I’ll organize my life around my mental health boundaries, and then I’ll stop trying to escape my own life.
I’ll live in the present.
You can too.
How often we forget that our kids can be our escape. Rarely is it really the littles we need to get away from. Although, since we’ve been snowed in for most of the past month, I think I really Do need to get away for a few minutes… lol
Rachel Norman says
Hahaha! Yes, I have found them to be a great escape many a time. Though you are totally right, a few minutes won’t hurt anyone. ha!
“There are people to feed, bills to pay, crumbs to sweep, and jumbo size Reese’s cups to eat. Unless of course you don’t have any. And then there’s an even smaller violin playing just for you…
They picked up on my stress and my desire to avoid them and they became clingy and needy and whiny and that made me want to go to Louisiana to the Tabasco factory with a block of cheddar cheese and a box of Saltines and eat until I burned my tongue off…”
lol! :) Your articles have been a calming, re-balancing blessing for this homeschooling mama of 11 fighting my way back from burnout and depression. Thank you. Truly. God Bless.
Rachel Norman says
Ha, thank you JB! You are doing such good things so just keep on keeping on.
Everyone needs a break! Kids can wear you down!! I need a nanny but I can’t afford one, all I want to do is get away from my kids! I can’t get shit done, I don’t even know who I am anymore!
Rachel Norman says
Sometimes it’s really REALLY hard. Hugs mom
We should he neighbors! I feel the same way!!
mai m says
I has frequently got this feeling to get far from kids for pursuing my studies and doing what I prefere more than dealing with kids requests….but I cannot do that without a help from family and they got tired too … I couldnot complete my studies… I always feel guilty from that feeling.
Rachel Norman says
Oh, that mom guilt feeling is so tough!
I don’t want to escape so I can get things done, i want to escape so I don’t have to do anything for anyone and be far removed from the stress of daily life. I wish I was only this stressed, mine goes so much deeper and it definitely comes from my kids and their constant needs. It’s draining and I haven’t felt refreshed for longer than a day in over 2 years. I’m happy for everyone on here that this works for, I’m jealous this works for you because I just want to escape from them not to them.
Rachel Norman says
yes, Sheila, that’s a valid need as well. TIME ALONE.
What about those who suffer from depression and have special needs kids and parent alone 85 percent of the time?
Rachel Norman says
Christa, you are in a tough boat and feeling like it’s nearly an impossible task! I hope you have support near you, girl. You must be so very strong.
I’m with you, I was hoping this would give me something constructive, not oh just have a good attitude. I wish my life was only this “stressed”.
Sophie van der Linden says
Cheer up! real mom never gives up)
Otherwise, if she is ,she gotta read your incredible article and have good portion of motivation. thank you
But How??? How do you even escape to your kids?? I need a book for dummies on this. Seriously.
I want freedom. I want quiet. I want everything else. So I don’t even understand how to chill enough to even enjoy playing with them! :(
This article is tackling a bad day, not real feelings of wanting to completely escape. I’m personally seeking therapy (don’t know how time and money wise, but it’s my only hope at this point) because I want to escape more than not. I understand I sound very negative and bitter and I’m not trying to be that.
One thing that sometimes worked for me when I was feeling like that a lot was to use a timer. I might set a timer for 15 minutes and tell my little one that mommy has to finish some work, and when the timer goes off then we will play together. And right when it goes off then I would stop my work and go play. Or I might set a timer for say, 30 minutes and say that when the timer goes off then mommy has to stop playing and finish up some work. My little one liked it and would even ask me to set a timer. So that’s one idea to try. But yes it is tough at times when you don’t have anyone to help you out.
Recently my little one came up with a great idea and asked me to make up a song about having patience. So I came up with a little short thing that we sing whenever either of us feels stressed or upset. It helps us get through that moment without unnecessary drama, and then we’re both relaxed again.
And I’ve found that for me it is like Rachel says – now that I’m calmer and we have figured out some techniques to handle those stressful / “I wanna escape” moments, home life is smoother.
Rachel Norman says
Your daughter is such a problem solver, I love that! Great idea about the timer too. Mine love timers and it’s like they feel safe knowing it will go offe ventually.
We mammas have to remind ourselves that we are truly blessed. Many women would and do pay money- big dollars to be in our shoes.
Besides that, we can remember that these are truly the sweetest days. Once they’re gone we can’t get them back. After our babies are all grown up we won’t regret the moments we gave to them nor the sacrifices we made for them. Perhaps they will remember how we made it a priority to be present with them and when we are old and gray they will make it a priority to be present with us!
Shandi Marie says
I just had this epiphany myself a couple of weeks ago. I am 40 years old. I’ve been a mom since I’m 17. I also have a 13yo and 6yo twins. finally realized this. You’re brilliant to write an article on it. Thank you
Rachel Norman says
This is a really well-written article, but I would have to disagree with the opinion of escaping to your kids when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and that other issues (not kid related) are usually at play for the overwhelm. For me, it was my kid when she was young. Like any young kid, she needed lots of attention, and without having a space/supports for self care, I was overwhelmed. I needed that breathing room to recharge and FILL MY CUP FIRST so that I could fill her cup. Even Jesus would often get up early in the morning (away from the disciples) and go to a solitary place to pray. Even God needed his time to recharge – D.A.I.L.Y.