Question of the Day – “I feel so overwhelmed with the “end of school year” craziness. I’ve got 3 little kids and their 3 teachers are asking so many things of me: bring $5 for a field trip, send brownies for a party, send in a baby picture for kinder-graduation, black pants for the performance, flower and card for teacher appreciation, and on and on. Not to mention end of year gifts for the teacher, my son’s birthday, my niece’s high school graduation AND requests for my TIME! I’m supposed to volunteer at the festival, watch the end of year performance, and chaperone the field trip?!?! My brain is ready to explode! This is all fun stuff so I feel guilty complaining, but how the heck do people manage the May crazies without getting overwhelmed?” – Lindsay
Parent Educator Answer:
I remember feeling exactly the same way when my kids were little. I was out walking my dog one December feeling totally overwhelmed with trying to remember all the things I had to do. I ran into my neighbor who had 5 KIDS, was homeschooling 3 of them, and was very involved with church activities. Surely, she could relate to my struggle of feeling overwhelmed trying to manage the details of many lives. I said, “You must be going crazy, too, trying to remember all the details, celebrations, gifts and events with 5 kids! How are you not overwhelmed?” She looked at me contemplatively and calmly replied, “Well, I have a lot of lists.”
The most common cause of overwhelm during busy months like May and December is trying to hold too many things in your head at one time. Writing everything down gets it all out of your head so you don’t have to “try to remember.” If you trust yourself to check your lists and follow through, this (theoretically) frees up your brain so you don’t have to hold too many things in your head at one time.
It’s like having too many browser tabs open on your computer at one time. Sometimes the computer can’t process it all and it slows down and starts taking forever to load. It needs extra time to process everything. When we have too many thoughts in our head, we also begin to slow down and become less productive.
Writing things down is like closing some of those browser windows so there are fewer things to think about it.
If you do have a lot of lists and you still feel overwhelmed, take it three steps further:
- Break things into categories. Everything you need to buy can be compiled into one list rather than making multiple trips. All phone calls get done at one time.
- Write how long you think each task will take. Sometimes we procrastinate on things we really don’t want to do, but when you realize that one email you don’t want to write will only take 5 minutes, it makes it seem less daunting and you get it done with more easily.
- Choose a date and time on your calendar to complete it. Putting it on the calendar will help you see your schedule and how much time you actually have.
The list looks like this:
- Buy 13 toys for the preschool summer fun basket. (40 min. Tuesday @ 7:00pm)
- Have Sophie make a card for her teacher. (10 min. Sunday @ 2:00pm)
- Buy fruit and make a fruit platter for end of year party. (60 min. Thursday @ 8:00pm)
All you need to do is check your calendar and obey it. If someone asks, “Can you drive kids to the park for field day?” You will know if you can or cannot by looking at your calendar.
Life Coaching answer:
What gets in the way from implementing this tried and true method for reducing overwhelm? Perfectionism.
I have not encountered an overwhelmed mom yet who did not have some sort of perfectionism (myself included). Inside our heads it sounds something like this:
- “I have to do everything right.”
- “I should do everything they are asking me to do.”
- “I need to contribute and do my part.”
- “I need to be there for my kids.”
- “I can’t forget anything.”
Everything that make us such reliable, responsible Supermoms overwhelms us when too many external expectations are put upon us. It all seems equally urgent and important!
Why can’t we be one of those moms who just “phones it in” and doesn’t stress?
Because we are not kind to ourselves if we drop the ball.
“Oh my gosh, I’m such an idiot, I can’t believe I forgot the coach’s gift!”
“Every other kid had their baby picture. I’m such a terrible mother!”
“What is wrong with me? How could I forget the baseball banquet? I’m such a loser.”
Other moms can drop the ball occasionally because they are quick to forgive themselves when they do.
What keeps us feeling crazy and overwhelmed? The fear of WHAT we are going to say to OURSELVES, about ourselves, when we screw up.
To feel more calm and more in control, you’ve got to commit to being nice to yourself no matter what. Practice saying things like this:
- “Oh well, no big deal.”
- “I’ve contributed plenty this year already.”
- “I give myself permission to drop the ball”
Not only will you feel calmer and more clear headed, but you will be modeling for your kids how to let go of perfectionism and forgive yourself for being an ordinary human.
No doubt about it, you are a Supermom; but trying to be perfect in May and December can be too much. Sometimes you just need to hang up the cape.
Trying not to drop any balls. Picture a juggler with 5 balls in the air. He is focused; whole body tense. He might smile and talk, but he can’t really relax. Most of his attention has to stay on juggling those 5 balls. Now imagine he is juggling these balls for 12 hours a day. EXHAUSTING.
Give yourself permission to drop some balls. Decide ahead of time which balls to drop or just commit to being kind to yourself when the inevitable ball drops.
You are not perfect, you are human, and human beings forget things, flake, and make mistakes.
When we are exhausted, overwhelmed, and crazy, we just need to be with people who understand us. The Holderness Family does a great job of laughing at the craziness that comes with modern day parenting. They are famous youtubers who make funny videos that make us crazy Supermoms feel seen, heard, and felt. Their recent Maycember video is today’s Supermom Powerboost. Watch the video, have a laugh, and know that you are not alone. I’ll include a link in the show notes and my Facebook Page, Life Coaching for Parents.
Quote of the Day:
“Imperfections are not inadequacies. They are a reminder that we are all in this together.” Brene Brown