I remember one day when I was really feeling overwhelmed as a mother. We had two children at the time. I was sitting on the couch in the living room of our apartment. Our son had fallen asleep as I held him and our daughter had just fallen asleep nursing, so I had one sleeping child in each arm. I felt like I was weighed down, not just physically, but emotionally as well. I loved my children and I was greatful for them, but I just wanted to rest! I felt like my emotions were very raw and close to the surface. I wasn’t sure what to do to feel less overwhelmed. This was not a part of motherhood that I often heard about or expected.
As a mom, do you feel overwhelmed sometimes, too?
Maybe I should ask, is the sky blue?
Are you greatful to be a wife and mother, yet feel overwhelmed with all that you feel you need to do and all that you desire to be for your family members and for yourself and for God? Do you long for more peace in your life and strive for a deeper relationship with God, too, to help with these feelings, yet wonder if it will ever happen?
Feeling overwhelmed can be like a shadow on motherhood.
When we are planning to have a baby and getting things ready for the arrival of our little one, we tend to look at all the positive things about motherhood and having a baby. We think about the things our baby will need and dream about what having a baby will be like. We usually don’t learn about postpartum depression, or how we can feel like a failure sometimes, or that we can be emotionally depleted as well as sleep deprived. We really don’t understand the challenges as well as the joys because we have not lived them yet.
I did not think that feeling overwhelmed would come as often as it does. What mother does not fell overwhelmed at one time or another . . . once a day or once an hour. I did not think that feeling overwhelmed would linger like a shadow over me, coloring everything I did: affecting the thoughts I had and influencing my words and emotions. I thought that if feelings of being overwhelmed came, they would leave again quickly, not stay and linger.
Know that feeling overwhelmed is a natural feeling to have as a mother.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed does not mean that you are a bad mom or deficient in any way. It means that you care deeply about your family and want so much for them that you can lose sight of yourself or not take care of your own needs.
Don’t linger in the feeling of being overwhelmed. Acknowledge your feelings, identify why you are feeling overwhelmed, decide what you can do to move past feeling this way, and then take those steps to overcome feeling overwhelmed.
Ways to combat feeling overwhelmed
Having a plan and knowing things we can do to help ourselves when we feel overwhelmed is key to helping us move past feeling this way.
Get some sleep.
Yes, get some sleep. We feel depleted because we are depleted. We are missing something we need in order to function properly and feel our best. One of the most important things we need is sleep.
When my husband and I were expecting our oldest child, I heard the advice to sleep when the baby sleeps. “Why would I want to do that?” I wondered, “When I can get so much done when the baby is asleep!” Yes, I thought that before he was born.
Now, I think it is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard. Babies are smart-they sleep when they are tired, eat when they are hungry, and cry to let us know then need something or do not feel well. They are in tune with what they need. As adults, we tend to avoid listening to what our needs are. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to sleep when the baby is sleeping.
It is important that I make sure I get enough food and the proper foods. If I wait too long between meals or do not eat nutritious foods I can get cranky, and that is not good for my family or for me. It can actually make things a lot worse.
Take a break.
I know this is easier said than done, but it is important to take a break. A car does not run continuously. It stops for gas, needs to have the oil change every now and again, and needs new tires, too, periodically. I cannot keep going with out taking breaks and refueling. If I am on empty I cannot give to my family and to God.
Sometimes a quick break is all I need, just 10 minutes of quiet by myself. Other times a half day retreat, a weekend retreat, or a night out with friends is refreshing. I don’t even have to go out; I can have an evening in and focus on doing something that renews me and fills me up again rather than focusing on household chores or working on my to-do list.
Connect with friends and help each other out.
When our kids were younger, one of my friends and I would take turns watching each other’s kids for an afternoon. I would have her kids over one day and she would have my kids over one day the next month. It was wonderful. We each knew that our kids were having fun with their friends and we could have some time to work on a fun project, catch up on bills, or have time for both work and fun. It was a time we could plan regularly to renew ourselves.
Plan time with God.
Going to adoration, reading the Bible, and spending time in prayer are some ways we can renew our souls and grow closer to God.
We know that God has a plan for each of us. He created us and He loves us without reserve. He wants what is best for us. We can trust in Him and rely on Him to help us and fuel us to live well the life He has given us. When we spend time with Him, we grow to know, love, and understand Him better. We learn how to trust Him more and rely on Him more.
When we are closer to God and have a stronger faith, we tend to feel less overwhelmed, and during the times when we do feel overwhelmed, the feeling tends to be less oppressive since we know God is on our side with us through it all, helping us to navigate through this time. We know He will help us.
Plan time with your spouse.
When we are more connected as husband and wife, we work better as a team. We are not merely two individuals living and working in the same house, but a team working together for the sake of our family. We ease each other’s burdens and help each other to grow.
No, it is not easy. It is challenging. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed with the events of the day, I don’t feel up to having a long conversation with my husband, but I know that my relationship with him is the most important human relationship I need to nurture. Just as I want for my husband to put things aside when I want his time and attention, I need to make sure I give him my time and attention, as well.
When we are more connected with each other, we are better at supporting each other, more attuned to each other’s needs, and we are a better team in raising our children.
Live one day at a time.
Remember that today is not like yesterday and will not be like tomorrow. Each day is different. Each day is its own unique gift and each day is a new opportunity to start afresh and move forward.
Plan for joy.
Don’t anticipate feeling overwhelmed in your day. Anticipate and plan for joy. Planning for joy in our actions and in our attitudes makes a world of difference!
Remember that we are part of a community and God is always with us.
As moms, we have a lot going on at once. The vocation of being a wife and a mother is a big responsibility. We can rely on, learn from, support and pray for each other as we journey in this life. We need to remember to reach out to others and not isolate ourselves.
God is always with us. He is always with our children. We can trust in and rely on Him to help us, lead us, and guide us each day. One day at a time is all we need to live.