The New Normal

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As a mom who works 40 hours a week, then comes home and cares (cooks, cleans, interacts, snuggles, etc) for my family, I’m all too well acquainted with the feeling of being overwhelmed. Like I have a million things to do and not enough time to do them all, let alone do them well. Even when I’ve marked everything off my list, I’m overwhelmed with the feeling that I failed as a mother, wife, housekeeper, cook, dog owner, because I didn’t have the time to do everything just how I would have liked to and may have rushed through things, completely missing the chance to interact with my kids and husband.

Often, I feel alone in this land of the overwhelmed, like I’m the only one who is hanging on by a thread (or a glass or two of wine). Apparently, according to a new survey by Care.com, 80% of working moms feel stressed about getting everything done. They actually found that 1 in 4 moms cries at least once a weak because they’re so overwhelmed! That is crazy (not like ‘it’s crazy that you cry’, but it’s crazy that it’s so common).

Reading this really made me think about the challenges of being a working mom (or a stay at home mom, or really any kind of mom). I found myself relating to all of the concerns that were mentioned, like not spending enough quality time with your family and worrying that if you ask for help it makes you a failure.  As a mom, you try so hard to wear all these hats and you end up feeling like you’re really doing a terrible job at pulling them all off. There is guilt when you’re at work, guilt when you’re at home, guilt when you’re out with friends or with your husband. It’s just a never ending guilt-fest!

The great thing this survey did was make me realize that I’m not alone in the land of the overwhelmed. Most moms share the same concerns and insecurities that I do. So is this state of being perpetually overwhelmed the new norm for moms? I guess we’re all just inhabitants of the land of the overwhelmed (let’s just hope there is a drive through Starbucks and a Trader Joes there).

So now what? How do we break this cycle of being overwhelmed and really focus on being present as mom and wives? Well, I’m no expert, but here are the things I’m trying to do to help get it all done without being a frazzled mess and help myself enjoy the moments I have instead of constantly worrying about my to do list.

  • Enlist your partner. Ask your partner to take on tasks to help you out (in a non-naggy way). Most the time, they don’t even know you need help with things unless you ask. I’m sure they’d much rather help you get the kids ready for bed or clean the bathroom than deal with a resentful partner.
  • Get the kids involved. We created a chore chart for my kids. Not only does this help with my to do list, but it helps give them a bit of structure for what is expected of them (and relieves some major tantrum drama).
  • Try a routine. I’m a routine freak. It’s what helps me get through the day, knowing what comes next and saves time by being more efficient. Try scheduling a few hours on the weekend to meal prep for the week. Schedule time each evening to do a quick (I’m talking 5 minutes) clean up of the living spaces in your house. Schedule alone time for you partner.
  • Find time for yourself. Don’t make excuses, don’t cancel on yourself. I personally like to go running. It clears my mind, burns off stress and makes me feel good about myself. Don’t like running? Cool, just find something that works for you, even if it’s just 15 minutes sitting in your room reading US weekly or cyber stalking people on Facebook. Do it!
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Ok this one sounds dumb but really, it’s not the end of the world if your house has dust bunnies in the corners or your children don’t look like they stepped out of a Gap ad. Spending time with your kids before they go to bed is more important than having a spotless kitchen. If they want to wear the same Ariel dress three days in a row, so be it. It’s not going to hurt anyone.

What are your tips for keeping it together (or at least making it look that way)?

I guess the moral to the story here is you’re not alone. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have (and some days are better than others). Some wise person once said “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” So next time you see a mom at the store wearing yoga pants and a messy bun with kids in the cart in mismatched superhero/princess costumes, don’t judge. Just smile and give her a mental high five.

And just for some laughs (it burns extra calories), check out this fab mom parody of ‘All About The Bass’ over on My Life Suckers.

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