5 Simple Ways to Beat Overwhelm as a Stay-at-Home Mom

It might be the single most rewarding job in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that that being a stay at home mom is hard 

And, I was told once, that being a stay at home mom is hard ESPECIALLY if you are an intelligent person. (If you worked a brain-power-required job, in your previous pre-kid life, for example. You might find that being a stay at home mom is boring.)

Now, I always had sort of crappy shift work jobs before I became a stay at home mom, but I still consider myself intelligent.

And I CERTAINLY still struggle with stay at home mom overwhelm.

Some days it feels like your brain is turning to mush. You crave some adult conversation, or just maybe the opportunity to do something that interests you. I know you’re invested in the long term well being of your children, and that alone does interest you, but you know what I mean. A brain engaging project that goes a little deeper than the Octonauts Creature Reports  (- cute as they may be.).

You are absolutely not alone, momma.

overwhelmed stay at home mom tips

I am literally living my dream, and I still struggle with feeling overwhelmed as a stay at home mom

I’m doing a major revamp on my mom life right now, but before I get to the tiny changes or “quick wins” I’ve started with making, here’s a summary of what my day has generally looked like for the past year ish:

Some days the overwhelmed feeling starts as soon as I get up. (It’s far worse in the winter when we just can’t get outside. Outside makes allllll the difference sometimes.)

The day starts like this:

I’ve just spent a mostly sleepless night with baby #2, and my eyelids weigh about a thousand pounds, when kiddo #1 wanders in – wide awake for the day. I get him out of the room ASAP – before he wakes baby #2, and we go to the kitchen where we collect our banana (“breakfast”), and then we park ourselves in front of the TV for a “show, show!” (Generally, Little Baby Bum nursery rhymes, and NOTHING ELSE will do.)

We stay this way until I feel like I can function, which takes up to half an hour if not longer. By the time we are half hour into the “show, show!” I already feel guilty about the TV and lack of real breakfast, and swear I’ll do better tomorrow. I’ve never been a morning person, and getting little to no sleep doesn’t help this at all.

Then I get dressed in yesterday’s clothes. They’re on the bathroom floor and easily accessible. I don’t see anyone all day anyhow. I’d like to shower, but it’s too risky. Kiddo #1 isn’t even 2 yet, and this week alone he’s soaped the bathroom once, lotion-ed it once and climbed up to a knife drawer once.

So I just make a pony tale and promise myself a shower when daddy gets home – which is a solid 9 hours from now. My husband works 12 hour days, and these days can feel pretty long.

Then kiddo #1 and I fight over changing his poopy bum, I’m pretty sure this is a sign that he needs potty training and out of diapers, but he’s not verbal enough to move forward with that yet. At least, I tell myself that, because I can’t even fathom how to move forward.

I work from home, at a job I freaking love, so I start to feel ansy that I haven’t had a chance to check my emails.

Baby #2 wakes up and she eats while we watch more TV, because I can’t entertain Kiddo #1 while I’m nursing. My eyes keep closing.

Then we either color or play blocks. Or both, for shorter times. I have no creative ideas, and these are the things I’ve been able to come up with that keep kiddo #1 entertained for more than 10 minute stretches.

When I go to the kitchen to find some lunch, I realize there is NOTHING in the house that would pass as an acceptable lunch, so we eat some raspberries, an apple sauce and a bag of crackers. The kitchen is a full on disaster zone and just looking around at the mess makes me feel like a complete failure. And I swear, I cleaned it last night. Or maybe the night before.

I’d like to unset the dishwasher so I can reset the dishwasher, but Kiddo #1 wants to either be “uppy” the entire time we are in the kitchen, or else he wants to take everything from the kitchen and spread it around the house.

Baby #2 is not that happy if she can’t see us, and I hate to just leave her in the other room to cry…but she’s not safe in the kitchen with kiddo #1 wandering around, if I’m distracted trying to put things away, so I leave the kitchen the way it is.

Nap time arrives and unless I miraculously get baby #1 down first, all hell breaks loose.

I put baby #2 down somewhere safe, while I try to get kiddo #1 to sleep, but I can hear her crying, and he can hear her crying, and I feel like crying – and no one is going to sleep.

Either eventually I win – 45 minutes later – and everyone is asleep, or I call my grandma and she comes to rescue me…  or we go for a drive. Most days, I do end up with one hour of alone time at nap.

Instead of tackling my to-do list around the house, I tackle my work-to-do list, and accomplish exactly nothing.

My brain is tired and the list is so long I don’t even know where to start. My heart sinks when the first baby wakes up, and I give up all together when the second one wanders out of his room – even tho that sleepy little face truly is a highlight in my day.

The hours between nap and daddy arriving home are the hardest, because at this point we no longer have a clean room to spend time in – the living room, kitchen, and dining room are all completely destroyed. We’ve already colored. We’ve already played blocks, we’ve already watched a show… my unfinished work is breathing down my neck, and there are crumbs sticking to my feet.

And I feel terribly terribly guilty for not being more grateful for every minute of it, because I actually do love it. I feel confused about how I can say I love it, when I can feel the pressure of the mess, the un-answered emails, and the unwashed hair. It sort of feels like the house is getting smaller.

So we drive to the dollar store. Or the grocery store. Or the bank.

It used to feel like such a chore to get both kids into car seats, and then out of car seats and into a cart, and then into the store, and then back out of the store, and into car seats, and out of car seats, and into the house WITH whatever we’ve bought.

Now, some times, it feels like a tiny little vacation – a change of scenery.

We come home and watch more TV.

My husband gets home and I throw both kids at him and escape to my work at the computer, only now, the weight of all the work I didn’t get done today feels less like an escape and more like an incredible weight. I tell myself I’ll just do a half hour, and then I’ll clean the house up quickly.

So I work frantically.

And then I realize it’s 8:30, and we all still need to eat before we can bath and get into bed, and start the whole thing over again. And the house is STILL a mess.

Because I’ve let it get so late, we have sort of instant type (unhealthy) supper that the kids scream through, because let’s face it, now it’s 9 and they SHOULD be getting ready for bed. They’re tired, we’re tired, everyone’s tired.

We finally get them to sleep – we tackle this as a team, hubby takes one and I take the other. It’s 10:30 and we figure we’ll watch 1/2 hour of TV together – even though I know I need to shower.

And then the baby starts to cry.

Girl, I know you can relate, the stay at home mom burnout is real

Recently, I’ve decided things need to CHANGE, if I’m ever going to escape stay at home mom overwhelm. And I’m the one that needs to change them.

Because I DO actually LOVE being a stay at home mom, and I just need to adjust a few things in my life to allow myself to feel JOY in it.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what things needed to be addressed, if I’m honest.

I just spent a few minutes thinking about what stresses me out THE MOST.

For me it was the mess in the house, the boredom/guilt over not knowing how to “entertain” my kids, the pressure of my stay at home work (and having no time to DO the work), the monotony of our days, and – shocker – my bad attitude.

So I’m in the middle of a MAJOR overhaul on my life.

Big, crazy changes.

But you can’t just jump into big crazy changes – you need to start small – especially when you’re already overwhelmed

These are the first 5 little tiny changes I made to my life as a stay at home mom – just tweaks – that made me feel better INSTANTLY:

  1. Be up just 15 minutes before Kiddo #1. Just 15 minutes. That’s enough to wash my face, put on clothes, and feel awake -ish.
  2. Every morning, choose one thing I LOVE about being a stay at home mom, write it down.  Focus hard on that thing – all day.
  3. Find an adult to have a conversation with every day. Bonus points if that conversation is in person.
  4. Plan something for supper before noon.
  5. Practice being PRESENT. It’s crazy, I’ve always thought my phone was “distracting” me from boredom, but really, my phone is contributing to the mess in my home, to the inability to be present with my children, and it makes me feel bad. Putting my phone down makes a HUGE difference!

These little changes have already made a huge difference in my life.

But the big changes I’m working on are starting to have an impact too. It’s slower, because big change takes longer. I’ll have A LOT more to say about these big changes soon!

how to beat stay at home mom overwhelm

15 thoughts on “5 Simple Ways to Beat Overwhelm as a Stay-at-Home Mom”

  1. I feel like you extracted parts of this out of my head! My third kid is just barely two and her hobbies include blocks, coloring, YouTube, and unexpected acts of terror. I am on maternity leave with my fourth. Sometimes I dread going back to work and others I am just so ready to get out of here! Especially when my baby was super tiny and I had trouble even remembering to eat, I kept it to-do list on the whiteboard in the kitchen. It stared me in the face and I was able to check tiny little things off my list all day. I think seeing the checked-off items can be empowering too! Hang in there mama! You’re doing great.

    Reply
    • – unexpected acts of terror. LOL. Thank you for that!! I don’t ever want to have to work out of the house, but I can relate in that sometimes I just want to GET out of the house haha. This is a season, and it will pass <3

      Reply
  2. It must be quite difficult with babies and toddlers. I feel the overwhelm with my 2 teenagers and a 10-year-old. I used to wake up earlier to do some work, then continue in the afternoon when they are done with their schoolwork (we’re homeschoolers). I try to squeeze in the housework while they are busy with school. I also expect them to help out around the house now – so I’m hoping that things will get better.

    Hang in there mom, it does get easier (rather, you do learn to navigate around it all).

    Reply
    • Thank you!! I have a dream of homeschooling too which does make me sound crazy after this post- I know! But I hope you’re right and I can learn to navigate around it all…

      Reply
  3. This was my life too when my boys were younger. Now I only have my almost 3 year old daughter at home and the boys are at school, but those days aren’t far in the past and I still remember the feeling of total overwhelm and despair I felt in the midst of the chaos. Thank you for being so HONEST in this post. I felt like everyone else had it down when I read other mum-blogs, and it just used to make me feel even worse. There were more days than I would like to admit where I sat crying in the middle of the chaos wondering how the hell to make it easier! (I just threw away most of our stuff in the end, lol!). You’ve got this – hang in there. It really does get easier.

    Reply
    • <3 Thank you!! I'm 99% sure I'll miss it some day, but there are days when it gets pretty rough. I think most of us must experience this at some point or another!

      Reply
  4. Guess what–bananas and raspberries are the BEST thing you can feed your kids (and yourself), just ask Medical Medium!! Great job, mama! xo

    Reply
  5. I just need to say I really needed this right now! Makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one feeling frazzled on the regular! I hate venting about the stresses of staying home cause I always feel like people think we chose this so we shouldn’t feel this way but just like any “job” it’s not all easy and pleasant all the time. Thank you for being so honest!

    Reply
    • I also needed this right now. This is exactly how I feel!

      Reply
  6. I want to cry! Beacause I am there I’m here stuck with my two beautiful baby’s and no motivation this made me feel a little more normal and reading the comments made me see the light at the end of the tunnel there, I have to remind my self this is just temporary 😩♥️

    Reply
  7. Listen, this did so much for me. I can relate 100% some days are indeed way better than others and with three little ones I realized I had to get out of my head and understand everyday will not be perfect and it’s okay for the house to be a mess some days, and it’s okay to take care of yourself. But even so I still have many days when I have no idea where the time went or the food in the kitchen 😩 now you have inspired me to share my journey if I ever get the real energy to.

    Reply

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