I chat with a lot of moms and the one common theme I always hear about is that we are stressed out, overworked, exhausted and at times, hanging on by a thread.
It’s also been on my mind a lot c/o the popular song, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. My kids and I love it and it always seems to be playing, reminding me that the good old days are gone and “now we’re stressed out”, as if I need a reminder.
Why is that? Why are we not getting our to-do list checked off, yet always managing to add to it? Can we have it all? What can we eliminate? Is it our own fault? So many questions…so little time.
I used to consider myself the “yes” woman, always agreeing to whatever came my way. Whether it was birthday parties, volunteering, doing a favor, work projects, etc., I said, “Yes”, completely ignoring the amount of hours we are given in a day. I never wanted to be the “no” person because I love helping others and seeing the smiles on people’s faces, including my children’s of course.
A friend of mine once said to me, “Ellie, you have to learn how to say, “no”…and so I did. I realized that being part of the “no” club didn’t mean I didn’t like to offer my time and help people but that I needed to be realistic with what was already on my plate. Life was simpler and became doable for a while and but as my kids were getting older, saying “no” wasn’t always an option.
I always thought having little ones was the hard part but I now realize that as they get older, it gets more complicated for different reasons. Another friend said to me years ago, “trust me…you’ll see in a few years. You will be pulled in ten different directions and have to figure out how to make it all work”. Boy, was she right!
While I have learned to do what’s best for myself and my family instead of making everyone else happy, life has gotten quite hectic with three boys, especially as the wife of a traveling husband. What do you do when two kids have different activities on the same night in opposite directions, while your husband is out of town with no family to help, and oh, your third is cranky, tired and sick? I am still asking myself this question but figuring it out as I go. I shuttle back and forth, rely on coaches and friends and still try to manage healthy dinners in between. Some days I want to collapse and wonder if it’s all worth it, while others, I feel like superwoman, getting everyone where they need to be and doing what they want to be doing.
Did I mention Mondays are my favorite day of the week? Yes, Monday. Think about it…the kids are all back in school, I can put my house back in order from the weekend’s craziness, can get work done in a quiet house, catch up on laundry and run errands, kid free. Who ever thought doing dishes and folding laundry in peace was going to be the highlight of my existence? I do need to remind myself though that this doesn’t all have to be done in one day. I am so programmed to be busy, I need to re-train myself to slow down. I have to tell myself that the world is not going to explode if every second of my day is not utilized with doing something. Sounds scary but I think I can get there.
Why do we feel we have to fill our day up to be productive. I don’t know about you but I think “me time” should be on our to-do list. Are we worried it signifies being lazy or not a good mom? There is laundry, cleaning the house, cooking, homework, bills, grocery shopping, work, exercise, errands…it never ends. Are we realistic to think we can have and do it all? Some days yes, some days no. Just because I may have 30 minutes free, does it mean I am in the mood to organize my playroom? NO. Does it mean I want to fold laundry? NO. What if I just want to read a magazine or actually sit down to eat a meal in peace?
I often think back to the days when my kids went to bed at 6:45. Seems early but they were babies and it worked. Now I can’t seem to breathe a sigh of relief until 9PM, when all is quiet in my house. I want my kids to be happy and active and try new things…so I make it work. My rule is one sport per child, but one sport can be multiple times a week and when you multiply that by three, wow…things get crazy.
I now cherish the nights, which is usually “one night”, where we get home from school and have no commitments, accept homework, dinner and bath time. As I approach 40, my goal is to become more relaxed and not be a slave to ten different schedules. Not sure that will happen anytime soon but it’s a goal. Maybe I should rethink that one and save it until my 50th.
I was never a parent that minded driving my kids around, watching them play sports or helping them practice in the backyard. Lucky because if I was, we would have major problems. It upsets me though that so many moms are stressed out, including this one. Life is going by SO fast, why can’t we slow down and not be in “rush” mode every day. “Hurry up, we’re going to be late for school”. “Hurry up, we are late for practice”. Hurry up, we are going to be late for the party”. Clearly we are all thinking and experiencing the same hardships, so what can we do about it?
Although our kids think we are superhuman, we are not. We have limits. We simply cannot do everything for everyone although isn’t that kind of what a mom is…doing everything for everyone else and being completely selfless?
I want to give my kids everything in the world and more. I love to cook for them, take pride in keeping a tidy house and love seeing them thrive at a new activity, but sometimes…I just want to sit down with them and play an old school game of Monopoly, which we do, but not often enough. (Side note: I just stopped writing this article to play a game of Monopoly with my three year old and it felt good…as challenging as playing Monopoly is with a three year old).
I don’t wish this stage in my parenting journey away because I know in the blink of an eye, I will be wishing it back. I think with a few deep breaths, sharing our stress with other moms and doing the best we can do is what is going to make this mom gig successful. At least I hope so!
As I finish this article, my house is quiet and all I hear are the birds chirping…oh and my dog barking at the mailman, but I’ll take it. I savor these moments to take that deep breath and brace myself for the tornado that is headed my way in a few hours.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™