Overwhelmed by Parenting? Practical Self-Care Tips To Stop Being An Exhausted Mom:
Have you ever had one of those weeks that just throws you for a loop? When you look at your to-do list for the day and think, “How the heck did things get so out-of-control?”
Honestly, that’s been my life ever since January 1. Maybe yours, too.
Or maybe you’ve been on this treadmill a lot longer, and you’ve forgotten what self care even is.
All you know is, you feel like you’re drowning. And you’ll take whatever self-care tips for busy moms you can get.
Good news – these simple self-care tips for exhausted moms WORK.
I know. I’ve used them before, and I pulled them out again last month. And they still work like a charm.
So ✅grab my practical self-care checklist for exhausted moms, and let’s look at what YOU can do TODAY to reclaim your life!
What makes THESE self-care tips the only ones you need?
Here’s the deal:
A lot of self-care checklists will prescribe things like bubble baths, mani/pedi sessions, nights out with girlfriends, or signing up for a new yoga class.
Don’t get me wrong – I would love all these things, too.
But if you’re already drowning in overwhelm, these tips are like, “Yeah, right!”
And then there are the more back-to-basics self care checklists, that include some variation of “eat right, get enough sleep, get exercise.”
Yes, these things totally help. They are what’s been helping me keep my head above water this month.
But again, they’re hard to even think about when you’re grasping for a lifeline.
You need help NOW.
And let’s face it: You’ve probably been here before. You need a lifeline for this moment, but you ALSO need a better long-term self-care plan that will help you prevent mom overwhelm in the future.
Good news: This self-care checklist (or self-care worksheet, if you prefer) will help you do two things:
- reclaim your life today, AND
- help you avoid another episode of mom overwhelm down the road!
The Only Self Care Checklist that Exhausted and Overwhelmed Moms Need:
This ✅printable self care checklist is actually more like a self-care worksheet. It rests on a basic assumption:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a mama, there’s a reasonable chance you’ve got too much to do. And/or no time for yourself, BECAUSE you have too much to do.
Yes, the laundry and shopping and cooking all need to get done. And the appointments scheduled, the health insurance and taxes managed, the kids schlepped from point A to point B, etc.
And sure, somebody’s gotta be Homeroom Parent, PTO Secretary, Neighborhood Council President, Girl Scout Troop Cookie Mom, Cub Scout Den Leader, Church School Volunteer Coordinator, and Project Lead at work.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be all these things!
So how do I get off the parenting hamster wheel?
Both the short-term answer to your #momoverwhelm problem and the long-term solution to this mess involve the same tools. I’m going to call them the Three Ds.
Some of you may have heard of these Three Ds before, with a fourth one added. The fourth one is DO.
We’re leaving that one out on purpose. Your sense of exhaustion and overwhelm stem from trying to DO it all, when you’re only human. (Contrary to what your children may think, you’re not Supermom anymore than I am.)
So now it’s time to become reacquainted with the other three D’s, and how they can help you reclaim your life.
The Exhausted Moms’ 3D Self Care Plan: Delegate, Defer, Delete.
This exercise will be easiest if you download the ✅free printable self-care worksheet I put together to go with this post.
The first step is writing down ALL the things you need to do. Writing them by hand will help them get out of your working memory, which should help you feel a little less overwhelmed right away.
You can list all the to-do’s for just today, or for today and this week. Whatever timeframe has you the most stressed out is what you should worry about in this first step. If you can’t think beyond the end of this week, that’s fine. Just jot down all those things that have you stressed.
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time to put your self-care plan into action, by applying the Three Ds to your massive to-do list.
Ready to get started?
Delegating can be the hardest for some of us, but it’s critical. Many of us busy mamas (raises hand) are control freaks who like to think that only WE can do everything right, the way it should be done.
But if you consider all the ways in which running a family and a household are like running a business, you’ll realize this is ridiculous.
No successful business owner, or even manager, can do EVERYTHING themselves. Part of the key to their success is learning to delegate to others.
Same goes for you, Overwhelmed Mama. If you’re going to make this work, you have to learn to let go and DELEGATE:
a) Your kids.
Get them started on “helping” with chores from birth.
Yes, I’m serious; I wrote a whole post about it here, and another post here on which chores kids can help out with at different ages.
Yes, it will take longer to fold a basket of laundry with infants handing you things and toddlers “folding” washcloths and hand towels, but it will all still get folded. And you’ll start to instill valuable lessons about pitching in from birth.
Missed the window on that one? It’s never too late to start. Don’t believe me? Then check out this book I totally love, about how one overwhelmed mom got her five kids to start pitching in more around the house, from her teenagers down to her preschooler.
And it’s also never too late to get them in on helping with regular upkeep of the home they occupy along with you. Awhile back when I was tired of being the only one doing any regular cleaning, I instituted Sunday-after-church “cleaning power hour,” with a chore jar that the girls pulled labeled clothespins out of each week.
RELATED POST: How I Got My Kids To Help With Cleaning
RELATED POST: Get Your Child To Help Around The House: 21 Hacks
b) Your spouse/partner/village.
I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that there’s no reason for ME to run out to pick up prescriptions or grab some more milk, when Dear Hubby is off to work for the day. With a quick text message, he’s on it for on his way home – and depending on traffic, I’ve just saved myself a half-hour or more.
Sounds like a no-brainer, yes, but when you’re overwhelmed, those are some of the first things that might slip your mind.
But this skill is not just for the little errands, or for your significant other!
- When one of our girls had a long series of ongoing medical appointments last year that conflicted with the other one’s gymnastics classes, I said to Dear Husband, “These can’t both happen unless YOU pick up one of them.” He’s not used to doing the schlepping on weekdays due to his work schedule. But throughout fall semester, he rearranged things to make it happen – and I had one HUGE weekly to-do off my list.
- And not only did he take over the schlepping, he took over managing the appointments and interfacing with the care provider. That, right there, was a HUGE help. It’s the sort of work that mothers have too often done all of for their families, as just one source of overwhelmed exhausted moms.
- Every Thursday night in our family, someone has Girl Scouts; Brownies are first and third Thursdays of the month, Juniors meet 2nd and 4th. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to get some of the other girls in the neighborhood involved with the troop. We did this mainly because they go to school and hang out after school with our girls, but there’s an added bonus: We now have a whole neighborhood of carpooling options each week!
What else can YOU delegate to others?
Seriously, does everything on your to-do list HAVE to be done right now?
It may seem that way. But stop and ask yourself if this is realistic.
I always get things done when they truly need to get done. Sometimes I can get them done early.
And no, you don’t want to totally put off something like getting your taxes in order until the day before they’re due.
But does it ALL have to be done right now?
This may mean that your kids take a month or two off from sports or other extracurriculars, because you just can’t swing the carpools. Or it may mean that you have to step back for awhile from that committee at church whose weekly meetings you just can’t handle right now. Or you need to postpone taking on that new project you’re really excited about until some of your old projects are put to bed.
This is okay. Those activities, committees, and projects will still be waiting for you, if they’re meant to be.
And the things that truly NEED to get done WILL happen, eventually! So stop stressing about deadlines two months in the future until you’ve got a few more of this week’s fires put out, OK?
This is my favorite one of all.
Delete those time-suckers from your life. A time-sucker is anything that you really don’t have the heart to keep doing, whose original purpose for doing no longer exists, or something that someone else can just as easily take care of.
RELATED POST: Five Smart Ideas for Mindful Downsizing
There are so many little time-suckers that eat away at your days without even knowing it:
- Those e-newsletters from groups you no longer belong to, or mailing lists you no longer care about.
- Those friendships that have become toxic, or people who drain your energy instead of replenishing it.
- Those committees you can’t remember why you joined, whose meetings you dread attending.
- Those volunteer commitments that no longer spark joy in your life.
If there are things on your to-do list that you keep putting off, or hate doing, ask yourself why those commitments still exist. Then get out of them as quickly and gracefully as you can.
Think of it as saying “no” so someone else can say “yes.”
When I made a list of to-do’s recently for work, family, and volunteer commitments, I realized I was on a committee with monthly phone meetings I had come to dread. Moreover, the committee’s workload was about to enter a more intense phase – and my heart just wasn’t in it.
I reached out to the chairs and explained that my time priorities had shifted, and I could no longer honor my commitment to the group. They were grateful that I bowed out, rather than taking on assignments I could not fulfill.If there are things on your to-do list that you keep putting off, or dread doing, ask yourself why those commitments still exist. Then eliminate them from your schedule. Think of it as saying 'no' so someone else can say 'yes.'Click To Tweet
Banishing Mom Overwhelm For Good: Maintaining Your 3D Lifestyle
Now that you’ve gotten yourself out of your current exhausted mom crisis (or at least found a path to the exit door!), it’s important to avoid getting into that overwhelmed mom state again!
There are several steps you can take to AVOID future Mom Overwhelm:
Learn to Say No.
This is the most important skill ANY busy, tired, overwhelmed mom can develop. You CANNOT be everything to everybody. Committees, activities, volunteer projects, community events, etc. will happen without you. Your saying “no” will NOT, in most cases, cause them to fall apart. (And if it does, then maybe they were too much for any one person to handle anyway!)
Plan Farther Out.
Yes, this from the same person who just told you NOT to worry too much about deadlines that were months away! But hear me out:
- I know that every year, I’ll spend a chunk of the spring and fall turning our unused kids’ stuff into cash at children’s resale events.
- And every January to April, I’ll spend a chunk of time being Co-Troop Cookie Mama for the girls’ Girl Scout troop.
As I looked back over my January overwhelm, I realized that my overwhelm began when a big church commitment ramped up at the same time these other two things were gearing up.
- Because I am the coordinator of this particular program at our church, and it’s important to me, deleting it from my schedule is not an option.
- Nor am I about to stop participating in kids’ consignment sales, or being Co-Troop Cookie Mom.
- This means that for next year, I’ll need to coordinate the other program participants farther in advance, so we can avoid this sudden surge of program work in January.
I hate pulling together the numbers for tax season. Every year it seems to take time I don’t have to spare.
Thank goodness I already have a system for compiling the numbers we need each year. I enter everything into a spreadsheet that adds up each category for me automatically. This system makes it so much easier for me to track expenses and NOT miss anything.
But doing it all at once after each new year still takes longer than I’d like. So this year, I’m going to start setting aside a Saturday morning each month to update our tax numbers.
I can’t delete this task. Nor can I delegate it to my husband; yes, he teaches math for a living, but I’m the one who manages our charitable donations as well as the Super Mom Hacks financial records the rest of the year. And my current strategy, deferring until right before tax time, is too stressful.
But I CAN delegate responsibility for the girls to my husband one Saturday morning a month, so I can do that month’s accounting. That way, it should be a lot faster and easier to compile things for the accountant come this time next year!
And by doing a little each month, I’ll save time in the end, AND make the actual work a little less stressful.
Are you already a pro at delegating, deferring, and/or deleting tasks from your life? Do you think the 3D strategy on my self-care worksheet can help YOU avoid mom overwhelm? Let us know in the comments!
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