Look, motherhood is hard. And if being a mother wasn’t enough, when you add in the housework, trying to keep up with bills, working, and maybe a hobby or two (if you’re lucky), it can drive anyone bonkers.
I’m not going to fool you. I may provide mothering tips, hacks, and advice now and then. But one thing you will never hear from me is that I have my whole life together.
Because I don’t.
I struggle every day, just like any other mom. Unless I have a specific writing assignment given to me on a given day with a clear deadline (usually that evening), each day I have trouble remembering what I need to be doing.
Do I write a blog post today? Work on my email marketing? Boost my social marketing? Play with my daughter? Work on one of my fiction stories? Get back to those poems and novels I’ve been neglecting? Look for freelance jobs to apply to? Apply to said freelance jobs? Relax? Play a game?
I have various to-do lists that sorta help me stay on track, but at the end of the day I’m winging it, just like any other mom.
That said, I’ve come up with a few things that help me to clear my head, or to get myself in the right headspace, and I want to share them with you.
If they can keep me from getting too stressed out, maybe they’ll help you.
Admit to yourself that you might never have it all figured out
I know. There are so many blogs and vlogs out there of moms with spotless houses and children dressed immaculately with clean hair, faces, and clothes. Kids that don’t scream or cry. Ever. Laundry is put neatly away, and there are no piles of, well, anything. Right?
They write or take a video about how they go through their planned out day and everything goes to plan. Always.
And they talk about their daily routine like life is super easy, everything is under control, the children never act up, the house is never dirty, blah bu blah bu blah.
You look at these women and then look at yourself and come to the only conclusion that you can come to: that you’re a shit mother.
I promise you. Behind those cameras and those blogs, those mommies feel like shit mommies, too. They show the unrealistic side because they too feel like the world needs to see them having it all together.
Not enough mom bloggers talk about the realness of being a mother. Whether you stay at home, work from home, or have a job that takes you away from the home, being a mother is really, really hard, and we need to support each other, and be able to share with each other both the good AND the bad.
Yes, it is definitely okay to feel like you need to improve. Maybe you want to eat better, or work on feeding your kids healthier meals. Perhaps you want to start taking a walk once a week so you can get out of the house more.
You could also decide to take an online course to learn something new so you can get a better job, or be better at your home job. Or you come up with a plan to clean one thing every day, even if it’s small.
All of that is fine and good. Excellent, even! But don’t ever feel like you have to be perfect. You already are perfect, even if you don’t have it all figured out.
Once you can admit that to yourself, even if you have to make it a constant reminder (use sticky notes or put a big poster of it on the wall by your desk), the stress won’t feel quite so stressful.
Make a to-do list. Even if you have to write something down you’ve already done just to cross it off
I mentioned to-do lists earlier. They help. They really do help.
For me, I try not to do daily to-do lists. They just stress me out. Some mornings I wake up and have no clue what I’m doing and end up winging it. If nothing gets cleaned today, fine. If nothing gets written today, fine. If nothing gets done on my blog today, fine. If nothing gets cooked today, fine (and yes, I’ve done that some days and simply told hubby he’s on his own that day).
The point of a to-do list, for me, is to guide myself on a weekly or monthly basis, or just whenever. If I can’t remember things that I needed to do, I’ll go to my list and pick something to do, even if it’s as small as “clean the litter box” or “outline a new blog post”.
If I did something really productive that wasn’t already on my list, you bet I’m adding it to the list, just to cross it off. See, when I’m making a list, I can’t remember everything right then that I need to do, so sometimes something comes up later and I’ll do it right then. Then I go back and retroactively add it to the list and mark it off.
Some moms may thrive on making to-do lists. I don’t. I am chaos, but sometimes that chaos needs to be controlled a little bit. Hence, to-do lists.
You can make your list by hand and go old-school. That’s what my mom used to do (though, that was before the days of apps and programs and fancy websites, haha), and it worked for her.
Or, you can embrace the digital age and use an app or some kind of tool. There are various smartphone apps for making to-do lists. Trello is a website that I know a lot of other mommy bloggers use in order to stay on task.
I’m a gamer and a nerd, so for me, my choice of lists and tasks is on Habitica.com.
You create yourself an RPG-like character, go on quests with friends, fight monsters and beasts, and you earn points and gold when you complete your tasks. It’s a lot of fun.
Take a break
I realize there is a lot that needs to be done, and though you may feel like you’re the only one to do it, and that it all has to be done NOW, it really doesn’t.
I promise. If you don’t get to the laundry today, it’ll still be there tomorrow. The same goes for the dishes, the mess in the living room, and the bathroom.
You don’t have to do everything in one day, and you don’t have to spend all day doing constant work.
Take a break. Just like breaks at a paid job are necessary, so they are for housework and motherhood.
My suggestion is that every now and then, just sit down on the couch and do nothing for thirty minutes. That’s right, turn the tv on, even if it’s a kid’s show, or some music you like, and just do nothing.
Rest your body. Eat a snack. Or maybe take a short nap! Whatever you need to do to recharge and keep going.
Play with your children
This is just as important as taking a break, or could be your break. Sometimes, especially if I have a lot of work to do that day, my break will be spending time with my daughter, whether we play or not.
From one mom to another who gets frustrated easily, don’t spend all day frustrated at your child. Make time to play with them and enjoy them.
If it’s nice outside, take them out and play hide and seek. If it’s a hot day, put them in their swimsuits and chase them with a hose! Watch their favorite cartoon with them, even if you’ve seen it a hundred times.
Break out the coloring books, paper, and crayons, and create with them. Build some lego towers. Or just enjoy a good old tickle fight!
Not only will you feel better, this will help to further establish and nurture your bond with your children, and it encourages them to be active and to play.
You don’t have to do it alone. Ask for help.
As a mother, it can sometimes feel like we have to know how to do it all, and that we should be able to get it done.
But honestly, who really put that burden on us? Society? Our spouses? Our families?
Maybe. But I believe that the main culprits are ourselves. Amiright?
And I speak for myself here. For some reason I have it ingrained in my head that I should be able to do it all, and when I can’t do it all, I feel like a failure.
Sound familiar? It does to me. So what do we do about it?
First, admit to yourself that you are not a failure.
You heard me. You are an amazing mother. Everything you do, you do for your children, even if it’s giving them goldfish for breakfast and cereal for dinner. Even if you buy them new clothes just because you’ve been too depressed to do the laundry. Or even if you give them a tablet or turn the tv on just to give yourself some peace.
Once you’ve admitted to yourself that you are not a failure and are only one person, ask someone for help.
Our family and friends aren’t mind readers, and neither is our spouse/significant other. If we don’t tell them that we need help, and where we need help, they won’t know how to help us.
I know. I know. You don’t know where to start or how to delegate. It’s okay. Start small. Make a list, if you have to, of where you need the most help. And from that list, think about who would be the best person to ask.
If you’re like me and you live away from most of your friends and family, finding help can be difficult. One thing you can still do, though, is to ask your spouse/significant other to help now and then.
Are there dishes in the sink that need washing, but you have to take the baby to the doctor, or you have to go grocery shopping? Ask your spouse to wash the dishes while you’re out.
I know, they probably won’t do them all (or do them right, according to our standards, haha), but the task will be done and you won’t have to worry about it.
The washer is done, but you’re busy in another room or trying to get some work done on the computer? Ask them to toss the load into the dryer.
Or how about you really need a nap, just half an hour to an hour. Hand your child over to your spouse or significant other, and go take that nap.
If you have older kids, this is the time to get their help with household chores as well, which can really help to lighten your load.
If you’re a single mom with no significant other, check with the neighbors and see if there’s anyone who would be willing to help now and then. If you live with a roommate, talk to them as well. Offer to trade favors or chores with them, if that will help, because if they have kids, they may also be in the same predicament you are.
Getting help can also mean seeking out treatment for any mental health issues. Postpartum depression and/or anxiety is real, and you need to take care of it just as you would an infection or disease of the body.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you feel that depression or anxiety may be an issue for you. Your life, and the lives of your family, may depend on you getting that help.
The bottom line is…
Take care of yourself, mama. You spend so much time taking care of the house, your kids, and your spouse/SO, and not enough time taking care of yourself. Make the time, and allow yourself to recharge.
I also highly recommend letting your spouse or SO do the same thing. Although they may not help as much as you wish they would around the house, they spend a lot of hours working hard in order to provide you with the very things you stress about every day. They need a break, too.
What are some ways that you get through the day without losing your mind? Share them in the comments below!
Hi, I’m Connie! I am a fiction author, mommy blogger, and freelance writer for hire. I love writing stories with an element of hope and writing about being a mommy, a wife, and a writer. Along with my fiction, poetry, and journey as an author, I write about motherhood, marriage, relationships, pregnancy loss, and any other relevant topics. If you’re looking to hire me as a freelance writer, please hop on over to C. Watson Writer for more information.