Fellow moms, are you feeling burned out, spread too thin, over-committed, and exhausted all the time? If this sounds familiar then you are likely doing too much and something has to give. I often myself in that place, feeling burnt out, exhausted, and basically like a “mom-zombie” just going through the motions. It’s in those moments when I need to take a step back and examine the big picture. I closely analyze what I am doing and how I’m spending my time and then I make some changes.
It’s no secret that mom’s are some of the busiest human beings on the planet. Period. Mothers are also some of the most capable human beings on the planet as well, and therein lies the heart of the over-commitment problem. As mother’s we want to be the best moms we can be, keep our houses in order, and so much more. We become the “soccer mom,” serve on the PTA, are the classroom parent, and always find ourselves saying yes when the teachers and/or school administrators call in need of volunteers or help. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the things we do as mothers.
Despite our willingness to help, we can’t do it all — nor should we. Here are four strategies to help you continue to be the best mom you can be and to avoid over-commitment and chronic exhaustion.
1. Learn the Power of Saying No! Saying no is vitally important, not only as a mother but in life in general –I know this from experience. Too often I have found myself doing things and volunteering for things I didn’t have the time to do and that I didn’t really want to do. Learning to say no is your friend and savior in terms of guarding your time and protecting your energy and well-being. While not always easy to do, saying no to more demands on your time, to opportunities that don’t really fit into your schedule, and to things that don’t benefit you and your family is crucial. So, before you say yes and add another item to your already full schedule, ask yourself if you have the time, is it a priority, does it help enrich you and/or your family’s lives. If the answer is no then your answer should also be no!
2. Identify Your Priorities. As I said earlier, take a step back and look at all the things you are doing and look at the things you are adding. Consider what is most important to you and your family. You only have 24 hrs in a day and 7 days in a week, so pinpointing those activities that are of most value to your family and the activities that benefit your family the most is important. Take a few minutes in a quiet moment to evaluate all of the activities in your life and assess them honestly. Do they add value or not? Do you enjoy doing it or not? Is it obligatory or optional? How much time are you investing in it? Is it worth that amount of time? Answering these questions through this clarifying process will help you determine which activities you’ll want to devote your time to, which you can drop, and what future activities you can say yes or no to.
3. Set Boundaries. Set boundaries and stick to them. For example, consider only allowing one or two extra activities per child and/or for yourself, dedicating one night/week for family dinners, volunteering for only one parental role at your children’s school per year instead of multiple, designating a few days per week as your days to dedicate to children’s activities meaning on other days you are not giving your time to these activities and instead to something else. The bottom line here is, for you to decide what’s most important to you and your family to be engaged in, then conscientiously setting and keeping boundaries to help keep you on track and protecting you further from over-commitment.
4. Make Room for Downtime. As I’ve said mothers are constantly busy, so it important that you make time for downtime. Downtime is critically important to you, in terms of managing your health, well-being, and peace of mind and it is important for a positive family dynamic that typically centers around mom. Making time each week to enjoy some downtime even if only for a few minutes makes a world of difference. Instead of committing to another thankless unnecessary activity, give that time to yourself, get a massage, take a nap, read a book, meditate, stretch, do what makes you feel good and do it often. Even go so far as to put it in your calendar and treat it as you would any other important activity. Make this time sacred, non-negotiable, and constant.
These steps can help you find a balance between the commitments that are important to fulfill while avoiding the over-committed exhaustion trap. Only saying yes to the things that you enjoy and that benefit your family and no to the many unnecessary or excessive demands on your time is the key. Finding this balance will make you happier, more capable of showing up for the people and activities you have committed to, and in being able to care for yourself.