The weight of the mental load in motherhood can often feel overwhelming. It encompasses the myriad responsibilities associated with parenting and household management, which, when combined with work, relationship, and self-care obligations, can become burdens too heavy to bear. While numerous factors contribute to this mental load, there are also numerous strategies and systems at our disposal to alleviate some of the stressors that lead to mental overwhelm. In this blog, we'll explore four such systems that can be swiftly and easily implemented, offering much-needed relief without adding to the already full plates moms carry.
Morning and Evening Routines:
Establishing a structured and predictable morning and evening routine is a simple yet effective way to streamline your day. By automating certain aspects of your daily life, you can reduce the mental load that comes from constantly deciding what to do next. Moreover, involving your kids in these routines, if they're old enough to understand, can be a game-changer. It not only lightens your load but also imparts valuable life skills. Encourage them to take part in creating the routine, allowing them to have a say in the order and tasks, and even creating visual reminders like a pictorial chart or age-appropriate written instructions. This way, they can follow the routine independently, giving you some well-deserved breathing space.
Recent research has highlighted that mothers from diverse backgrounds, regardless of income, race, or culture, often find themselves stretched thin, juggling work, extracurricular activities, and various responsibilities. Planning and preparing nutritious and satisfying meals for the family can compound their stress levels. Meal planning, not to be confused with meal prepping, can be a lifesaver in this situation. It involves understanding in advance what items are needed from the store, estimating preparation times, and having the flexibility to cook at a more relaxed moment in the day, rather than during the chaotic 5 o'clock rush. Maintaining a "master list" of go-to meals with readily available ingredients or quick prep options is a strategic approach to streamline this process. Even on those time-crunched days, you can effortlessly whip up healthy, speedy, and family-favorite meals without the added stress.
Declutter and Organize:
Did you know that clutter can have tangible effects on both our bodies and minds? Studies have shown that clutter has the potential to trigger anxiety, disrupt our sleep, and hinder our ability to concentrate and process information, among other things. With this knowledge, we can take steps to prevent or mitigate these negative consequences by decluttering and organizing our living spaces.
This doesn't mean you should embark on a complete home overhaul all at once. It's more effective to start with one area at a time and perhaps use a timer, creating a "15-minute kitchen declutter challenge," for instance. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a short time when there's a sense of urgency and when there’s a definite end in sight.
Whenever possible, assign specific "homes" for the items you're organizing. This way, when life's inevitable chaos starts to accumulate clutter once again, you won't need to undertake a massive reorganization. Instead, all you'll have to do is "put things away" where they already belong. This approach simplifies the ongoing maintenance of an organized space and thereby reduces your mental load.
As much as we'd all love to embody the image of the "superhero mom" who can effortlessly meet every standard and expectation, the reality is that as humans, we can't possibly live up to every ideal, whether imposed by society or ourselves. Chasing unrealistic or unnecessary expectations is a direct route to burnout and can blind us to the beauty and joy life has to offer. To discover more joy and fulfillment in our busy lives, the key is to simplify and focus on fewer things (even though this may feel counter-intuitive).
While the saying goes, "less is more," it holds true in practice. Narrowing our focus not only increases our chances of achieving our goals and meeting expectations, but also encourages us to adopt an abundance mindset, recognizing the many reasons we have to be grateful.When life becomes overwhelming, try listing your priorities in the areas causing you the most stress. While there may be numerous important factors, determine what matters most in this particular season of your life and aim to let go of the less crucial elements as much as possible. This relieves the weight on your shoulders and lightens your mental load. It doesn't mean you can't revisit and adjust your priorities in the future, but it gives your mind permission to shed unnecessary burdens.