A Simple Solution For Moms To Feel Less Overwhelmed
Photo Credit: Ann Visser
When Being A Mom Is Overwhelming
The most important job that I’ve done and will ever do was to raise my kids. I value moms and the work that you do, loving on your kids, so much.
And yet, being a mom can be overwhelming at times…
My father-in-law used to have a motorboat that we would often take boating trips on. On this particular day, many years ago, we were going from Victoria to Charlottetown. It was a full boat: my father-in-law, our whole family, plus a sailor and his girlfriend with her four children. Nine kids in this boat!
We had barely left the harbour when the wind picked up and the water grew rough. Waves were crashing over the front of the boat, soaking the people sitting in the front. I grew terrified, even though we all had lifejackets on, and felt the full weight of responsibility not only for my five children but also for the other four kids.
None of the men were concerned, especially the sailor, who was used to rough conditions.
Nonetheless, the guys kindly took us to shore and we walked to a friend’s house to see if they could drive us home. Nine children and two women walking down the road, all with lifejackets on… we must have looked like quite the sight.
How Moms Can Feel Less Overwhelmed
Even though everything turned out fine, that day stands out to me because of the weight of responsibility I felt for the nine children and it left me feeling quite overwhelmed.
So on days like that, how do we as moms deal with feeling overwhelmed?
A simple solution that has worked for me is to create systems.
Before I get in to the specifics, however, I want to acknowledge that each mom, each child and each family is unique. So what worked for me may not work for you and that’s okay. Every mom will find her own way of doing things that work for her family.
The Kinds Of Systems Moms Can Create
Here are some systems that I found helpful:
When I first got married, I didn’t have a system for cleaning the house. (Let’s be clear that I’m not a systems person… it doesn’t come naturally to me.) As a result, it took my niece coming over and explaining how my mother-in-law did things, which then helped me to create my own.
- Mondays and Saturdays were laundry days.
- Tuesday was vacuum day.
- Wednesday was grocery day… and so on.
Every Saturday morning, everyone in the house had a chore to complete (ie; empty the garbage cans, clean the bathrooms, clean the car, etc). We would do the same chore for maybe 3 months or so. Each child had something that was within their capability. We wouldn’t play until all the chores were completed and then we had the rest of the day to play.
This is often a big one and the system will depend so much on your budget and your time. Some people cook on specific days or do a lot of food prep on the weekends to make weekdays easier.
For each meal, everyone had a chore to do (ie; set the table, clean up the table, empty the dishwasher, etc). On top of that, everyone knew that we didn’t leave the kitchen until everyone did their chore. This made meals a bit easier because with everyone pitching in, I wasn’t left with a big mess to clean up.
On the days when I didn’t want to be a mom, I would walk up the stairs in my house to the second floor and I would say to myself with each step: “I don’t want to be a mom today. I don’t want to be a mom today. I don’t want to be a mom today.” However, by the time I reached the top of the stairs, I was finished and I would get on with my day and be a mom. This little exercise allowed me a brief time to acknowledge my feelings that I wasn’t having a good day but I still need to carry on. It was one way I managed to cope having five little ones within six years.
These are just some examples. There are many other systems that moms could create. You are only limited by your creativity and need!
How Moms Can Figure Out What Systems To Create
I do believe in creating structure for kids. However, there is such a thing as too many systems.
Systems are meant to make things easier, more efficient – in a nutshell, to solve a problem.
So, if you’re not sure what systems to create, you could try asking yourself these two questions:
1. What challenge or bottleneck do we have that happens over and over again?
For example, getting out the door can sometimes be a big deal… especially in a cold country like Canada where kids are bundled up in their snowsuits like fluffy marshmallows (makes me think of Robert Munsch’s story I Have To Go Pee). My daughter has a bin by the front door for each child where all their mitts, hats, and scarves go, so when the kids come in, they dump everything in their bin, making it easy to find their stuff the next time they’re rushing out the door to go somewhere.
2. What values do I want to teach my children?
Systems can be challenging to put in place, especially when your days and weeks are already full, but the most important systems to implement are the ones that teach children life skills.
Think about something like bedtime… if it’s a system, it doesn’t have to be miserable. You could read to your kids before bed and have cuddles, and then it’s something that your kids look forward to. And if you don’t have enough time for a bedtime story, try getting ready for bedtime earlier.
This system helps make bedtime fun instead of stressful for kids and parents while at the same time teaching kids the value of getting a good night sleep, ending the day well, and the value of quality time through reading and cuddles.
There Are No “Right” Systems
Another important lesson that I’m learning as a grandmother is that we’re never too old to learn a new system. We can learn from other moms, our own mothers, or our grandparents to figure out what systems we like, what values we want to teach our children and what systems work for us as moms with our personalities, our commitments and our kids.
I want to encourage moms not to feel like a failure if you think you don’t have the “right” systems.
There are no “right” systems.
Every family is different and the systems you create need to work for you.
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