I talk to mothers every, every day who are just plain overwhelmed. They are single or their partners travel, they don’t have a community to lean on, their children are small, they are juggling so many things.
And when you are overwhelmed, you constantly feel scattered. Disorganized. Like there is not enough time. Perhaps you feel enmeshed with one particular child and out of balance in dealing with the needs of all of your multiple children.
I can only write these things as I have lived these things. Life is not perfect, and parenting small children is not for the faint of heart.
The place to start, is yourself. You are the key to your own overwhelm! I read a list the other day, and it was kind of funny to me. It was talking about the keys to a happy home, and I can’t remember the exact order, but “economically stable” was something like fourth or fifth on the list. That amazed me.
If you don’t have enough money to make your bills each month, to buy good food, how are you going to have enough time or energy to focus on your own health and the “extra” things in family life? A roof over the head and a full belly of nourishing food is the most basic and important step to taming overwhelm, don’t you think?
Most of the homeschooling families I know are on one income,and sometimes on one income that is not very steady or very high. Economics do count, and most of the mothers I know are already frugal and saving every which way they can. I don’t have an answer for all this, but just to say I really thought fourth or fifth on the list meant that list was written by someone who felt financially stable!
Aside from economics and those most basic needs of food and housing, I often ask mothers about their physical health. Again, this seems basic, but I know so many mothers who haven’t been to a doctor or dentist in years. Some mothers feel overwhelmed because they have physical issues that are not being diagnosed or dealt with, and they are under immense stress which exacerbates their physical challenges.
Outside of these two things, I think about:
- Mom, how many hours of sleep are you getting? Seriously, what time are you going to bed and what time are you getting up?
- What are you eating and how? Are you eating standing up after everyone is served because you are up and down so many times and then someone is done and running around? I talk to many mothers who end up eating standing up almost every meal, especially if they are alone with multiple children at meals. That sounds awful, but I know from talking to mothers, it is true.
- Do you ever get to exercise? No, not the toddler walks where a cute toddler meanders and stops to look at interesting insects every ten feet or so, but a real time of exercise and sweating. If you live in a safe neighborhood, walking is free and good exercise. At least it is a place to start.
- What kind of order is in your home? An home that has an order, a simplicity to where things live, reduces stress in the whole family. I know this can be challenging if you live in a small space, but also gratifying.
- What kind of order comes to you from your rhythm of the day, of the week and of the month?
- Do you do any artistic work to nourish yourself? Any at all? How much in the last month? If you value Waldorf Education, and can see the importance of teaching this way for our children, we must also admit that it is important for ourselves as adults.
- Finally, but not least, what are your spiritual practices? How does this nourish your soul and fortify you? Where is your community in your spiritual practices? A community can carry many things, that you as an individual,cannot carry alone.
I would love to hear from you: put forth your very best tips for dealing with overwhelm. How do you budget? How do you work out exercising? How did you tame the stuff in your house once and for all so it all has a place? How did you find a community to love? Help other mothers who could really use your tips!