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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.