Are you a mom overwhelmed by your life? Stressed out by your to-do list and all you have to manage every day? Would you like to feel better right now?
First off, you’re so not alone in this. We’ve all been there. Mom life is overwhelming at times….in some seasons of motherhood, it’s overwhelming every single day.
It’s okay to feel this way, but you also don’t have to stay stuck with these feelings. You actually have much more control over the overwhelm in your life than you might realize.
In this post, I’ll explain why you may be feeling so overwhelmed, including two major sources of mom overwhelm, and a quick 5-minute exercise you can do to lighten your load today…yes, right now!
Is it normal for a mom to feel overwhelmed?
Yes of course! As a busy mom, it is so totally normal to feel overwhelmed at times.
But before we dive into it all, let’s discuss the first thing to do the moment those feelings of stress and anxiety from overwhelm creep up on you-
And that is to acknowledge them for what they are. They’re simply feelings and it’s okay to have them.
No matter how great your life might seem from the outside, sometimes you just want to escape and it’s okay to feel that way. You don’t need anyone’s permission, only your own.
So the first thing to do when you feel your stress levels rising is to acknowledge your feelings of overwhelm, give yourself permission to feel them, and accept them without shame.
Seriously mama, take the shame out of the equation! Feeling overwhelmed as a mom is such a common struggle in motherhood. There is nothing to be ashamed of…at all.
“Mommy Burnout” vs. “Mom Overwhelm”
One important thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between your typical feelings of mom overwhelm and mommy burnout.
Although it’s perfectly normal to be overwhelmed by motherhood at times, if you’re having feelings of intense exhaustion or depletion, like your stress levels are through the roof every day and you’re constantly at your breaking point, then it’s possible you’re more than just a mom overwhelmed.
You may be experiencing what is called “mom burnout”, which can be a dangerous position to find yourself in, as it could impede your ability to properly care for yourself—and your family.
What does mom burnout look like?
Moms experiencing burnout often feel empty inside, disengaged from their kids, and ineffective in their role as a parent. While the signs will look different from mother to mother, the common symptoms to be aware of are as follows (source: parents.com).
- Withdrawing from others
- Losing interest in things you once loved
- Sleep problems
- Changes in appetite
- Exhaustion or low energy
- Having trouble controlling your worries
- Feeling less hope
- Feeling emotional—sadness, irritability, or anxiety
- Feeling like you need a break (more than just wanting a break)
- Shorter temper and more frequent yelling
- Feeling as though any new task puts you over the edge
- Needing to not be touched or needing to be alone
- Waking up not wanting to do the day
- Feelings of resentment (toward your children, partner, and/or everyone else)
- Guilt for wanting or needing a break
There are some steps you can take to recover from mom burnout and if you think you may be experiencing it, I encourage you to learn more in my post linked here and to seek out the support you may need.
Why do moms become overwhelmed?
Let me guess – if you’re a typical mom overwhelmed by her life, you probably feel like you’re in a losing battle with a never-ending to-do list, right? You cross one thing off the list and 10 more items magically appear!
You likely never get any time to yourself because someone else always needs something from you and there literally aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
Plus, putting yourself first doesn’t exactly come naturally, does it?
As devoted mothers used to taking care of everyone, we have the tendency to put ourselves last on the list because we feel that our families should come first, even if that means totally foregoing our own personal needs…which it typically does!
But then we find ourselves constantly exhausted with little patience for our kids or partner, feeling like we can never catch up!
There’s always more to do and even when we find a little pocket of time that we could possibly use to relax, our brains offer us a laundry list of things we could or should be doing instead…tasks we could be crossing off our never-ending to-do lists.
No matter how much we do or give, it never feels like quite enough.
All that said, there are two reasons that are typically the source of mom overwhelm.
2 Common Reasons Why Moms Feel Overwhelmed:
1.) You’re doing too much
One common reason why you may be overwhelmed is that there are simply too many commitments on your calendar. You’re saying “yes” to too many things and your calendar is all over the place.
In this case, it’s important to get clear on your values, or what’s most important to you, so you know how to prioritize what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. This will allow you to get a better handle on how you’re choosing to spend your time and take control of your calendar.
Once you know how to better prioritize based on your values and what truly matters, you’ll feel way less overwhelmed by having an overabundance of commitments that really aren’t all that important to you.
2.) You’re doing the wrong things
Now it’s also possible that your calendar may not be overflowing with commitments, but you still feel overwhelmed by your life. This could be because you’re spending all your time and energy on the wrong things, which is another common source of overwhelm.
When I say the wrong things, I’m talking about things that drain you, rather than fill you up inside. This could be spending all day at a job that doesn’t fulfill you and then coming home to mundane household tasks that bore you day in and day out.
We all have our responsibilities and things that we have to do in life, but when there’s not a mix of what you have to do versus what you want to do, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and unhappy in your day-to-day life.
You fill up your schedule with all the wrong things, i.e. tasks and responsibilities that drain you, and neglect to make time for those things that bring you joy and light you up inside.
If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to explore what things make you happy and give you the energy you need to manage everything that’s expected of you as a mom and then figure out how to work these elements into your life on a regular basis.
This will allow you to have a healthy balance of things you have to do in life and things you want to do in order to feel happier and less overwhelmed.
If you need help uncovering those things that make you happy, check out my post – How to Create a ‘What Makes You Happy List.
What to do when feeling overwhelmed as a mom
Now I know what you’re thinking right now and it’s something along the lines of “that all sounds great, but I’m already overwhelmed with all I have to do…I don’t have time for the things I want to do.”
I totally hear that, but think about if that statement is actually true.
It may seem like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to fit it all in, but is there a way to reorganize your schedule to create more time for the things you want to do?
Consider what exactly is on your to-do list. What are the specific tasks or responsibilities (things you have to do) that seem to take precedence over the things you want to do?
Why do these tasks feel so urgent or essential and what would happen if you put off some of them? Perhaps there are things you can delegate to other family members or even paid help if that’s an option for you?
Are there tasks you might be able to minimize or even eliminate because you realize they’re actually not that important after all?
I promise you, leaving the dishes in the sink or the laundry basket full of clothes and doing something that you want to do instead is not going to harm anyone. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
By making time for the things you want to do, you become a happier, more fulfilled person and a better mother. This benefits not only you, but everyone around you.
*If you feel you could use some personalized support in dealing with mom overwhelm, click here to learn more about my one-on-one coaching services and how I can help.
5-Minute Fix for Mom Overwhelm
If you’ve gotten this far, you must be ready for the quick and easy exercise I promised to lighten your load when feeling overwhelmed as a mom. It should only take about 5 minutes and will help you unload some of the things that may be making you feel overwhelmed.
Follow the steps below to create a Life/Energy chart, which is a tool you can use to help identify what in your life gives you energy vs what drains you.
1.) Set up your Life/Energy chart
Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the center to create two columns. Title the left hand column “Life Giving” and the right hand column “Energy Draining”.
2.) Review your schedule
Think about how you normally spend your time. If it helps, go through your calendar and review your commitments from the past few weeks to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
- What activities do you do on a daily basis?
- What commitments do you have?
- Who do you spend your time with?
3.) Determine “Life Giving” vs. “Energy Draining”
As you assess how you spend your time, try to determine if a particular activity, commitment, or person is “Life Giving” or “Energy Draining” and put it in the appropriate column of the Life/Energy chart by considering the questions below.
- Does the task/activity/person make you feel energized or exhausted?
- Is it something that is filling your cup or is it depleting you?
- Does this task/activity/person excite you or bore you?
- How do you feel afterwards?
4.) Examine the “Energy Draining”
Next, go item by item in the “Energy Draining” column and ask yourself if you really need to keep doing whatever it is.
I’m willing to bet that about half the things on your list that are draining your energy aren’t actually necessary in your life and can be delegated to someone else, minimized, or eliminated from your schedule completely.
Cross these items off the list as you see fit and give yourself permission to take them off your plate. This should make you feel a bit lighter!
For those items where the answer is ‘yes, you do need to keeping doing it’, try to dig deeper into why or what about it is draining your energy.
Could you do it in a different way? How could you possibly make this task or activity feel better and less overwhelming? What could you change? Jot down your ideas and take it from there.
Add this 5-minute fix to your toolbox as an exercise you can repeat whenever you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. It can instantly help dissipate your stress and lighten your load!
How to Feel Better as an Overwhelmed Mom
I hope after reading this post you are already feeling less overwhelmed. Remember, it’s totally normal to feel this way, but you don’t have to stay stuck in this state of overwhelm.
There are tools, practices, and mindset shifts you can use to help you feel better.
Remember, it’s important to prioritize your mental health and take care of yourself so you can avoid burnout and continue to take care of those you love.
*If you need some additional support, check out my coaching program for moms. Feel free to reach out to me at Carly@littlevoicebigmatter.com or click here to schedule a call and let’s see if coaching together is right for you.
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.