No offense to any dads out there reading this; many of the points made here are totally relevant to you and the overwhelm that you feel, as well. I’m simply writing this from the perspective of a mom.
After a very long Saturday, as the kids slumbered in their rooms, my husband and I gave each other a hug to appreciate the solitary silence for a brief moment.
But, I realized I couldn’t. My brain was too busy hopping from one thought to the next. I couldn’t slow it or stop it.
I think it’s one of the reasons that I have a hard time reading anymore. Yes, I’m a librarian, so that’s hard for me to admit, but it’s how I’ve been rewired since kids came along. It’s also a central factor as to why, I think, when the kids are all settled for the night, that I tend to sit and allow myself to veg out with my phone. I don’t need my full brain to check out social media (or scour the internet for things I’m researching to buy or do). Shameful, I know. It also, I’m positive, adds to my brain’s constant state of movement.
So, with this state tends to come the overwhelm of never fully feeling like things are “done.” For example, I’m researching a new SUV and between finding a big-but-not-too-big one and a 3-car seat option (that I can find in my area - who wants to get a sitter and drive 40 minutes just to test one that you may not end up with?), my head is spinning. Multiply this with about 20 other jobs ranging from small to large, and the spinning is constant.
Here are some ways that I’m hoping to hit the reset button to both regain my mental well-being and enjoy those around me more while finding the motivation to complete the tasks I need to accomplish. Hopefully they can help you if you’re experiencing a similar situation!
The act of writing can be soul soothing, but when you’re doing a brain dump, it can actually allow you to sleep at night - even without getting something accomplished. Having them written in words in front of you takes the tasks and to-do list from disorganized thoughts floating around in your brain that you’re constantly chasing, hoping you don’t forget, to real, tangible items that you can cross off as they’re accomplished. Lists work wonders.
Prioritize and use a planner.
Once you’ve made your list(s), look at the immediate “need to do” items; things like buying a gift for someone’s birthday or a deadline at work - anything that has a date set in stone. Fill those in on your planner (and pick a day/time to accomplish the task), then start to fill in other jobs to do per day.
I try to keep it to not TOO many extras per day. I generally try to put one “bigger” item from different areas per day. For example, aside from the usual daily cleaning tasks, I’ll add one job to help me get closer to having spring cleaning done (like going through a closet or wiping out drawers), and I’ll pick a larger task at job to chip away at rather than look at a huge, daunting list.
Pick a relaxation method and try it out (more than just once).
Whatever you pick, give it a solid effort. Use essential oils. Try a meditation app. Journal or write. Do yoga. Even just take a nap or go for a walk outside. Anything is better than nothing, and psychologically just knowing that you’re trying something with a sole purpose of calming yourself and DOING something for yourself gives it a deeper meaning.
Schedule family time, tech time, and relaxation time.
Just like scheduling your tasks in your planner or calendar, do the same for your positive moments. You can keep it more fluid by putting an asterisk and simple reminder for the day: “45 minutes of social media” and “Candyland day!” Then, stay true to it. If you’re relaxing, you’re not watching TV or scrolling through your Facebook feed; you’re doing whatever your selected relaxation activity for the day is.
Knowing that there IS time later for such things as social media or TV help you cut back without feeling totally deprived. It also helps you waste less time on it and be wiser in your overall use of time. It’s the direct link to being more present, as well.
Share the burden.
Look at your chore list and determine what you can “share” with your family. If your kids are old enough to do even simple things like carrying their plates to the sink, dusting, or putting scoops of food in your pet’s bowl, let them know that this is their responsibility. Even if your child is still a baby, talking with your partner about duties you each like or dislike can help you figure out who can do what.
Read something fun.
This could be categorized under relaxation techniques, but I think it deserves its own explanation. I think that we feel like there’s a book that everyone suggests or that we SHOULD read. But with how little time we have for ourselves, we shouldn’t let the obligations take over our choices.
So, read what you WANT to. A guilty pleasure romance or YA book. A reread of your all-time favorite. A short but funny or inspiring self-help book. Or even a magazine (I sometimes get as much out of a good magazine as I do a book, and the visuals and tips fill my bucket).
Just be sure to do it before bed to help you calm the craziness in your brain.
Equate the chores with something you relate to.
This is totally personal preference but by making a connection to the tasks you’re not a fan of, they may be less depressing and more (dare I say?) enjoyable.
For me, I think of old movies. I’m a nut for a good black and white film, especially if the “everyday” is shown. Or I imagine a different time in history (another thing I love). It’s probably why I make a pie or good old recipe every once in awhile.
For being a modern, pretty independent woman, I still like to relate to the strong women who came before me in my family. They swept the floors daily. They didn’t have all the easy tools that we have today (but, admittedly, most of them also didn’t work outside the home, so the “easiness” is split). But putting on big band music or an old movie helps me attack the cleaning with a bit of romanticism...and less dread! Is that weird??
Easier said than done, but by surrounding ourselves with less stuff, less responsibilities, and less obligations, I’m hoping to slow down the hamster wheel in my brain.
This could be as simple (pardon the pun) as cutting back on what social media you use (and using just your favorite) or buying some fun, gender neutral craft kits and games so you always have a birthday gift ready for your child’s classmate’s party. It could be as big as using a capsule wardrobe. Whatever you’re comfortable with!
So, do any of you struggle with trying to turn off the constant worry/planning/figuring going on in your brain? What’s your favorite way to slow down (and get on top of things)?