I'm a feeler. Sometimes I feel like everything is broadcasted to me in high-definition, surround sound, and with a chair that bounces me around as I experience everything happen. Bright lights, loud sounds, and any kind of constant stimulation basically just jar my little soul.
Children...are all of those things. They're high def, surround sound, all up in your grill-touchy-feeling-needy for most of their waking hours. Or at least my two boys are. Some days are really hard.
I've felt so guilty for not enjoying the moment, for losing my patience, for wanting to retreat away from my children. I'm easily overwhelmed when my environment is chaotic and loud, which is a given when you're spending the day with a 2 and 4 year old. (I mean, I'm sure every parent out there, highly sensitive or not, can relate).
I've found, for me, a few things I can do from the moment I get up until the time I go to bed, that help keep me from feeling so overstimulated throughout the day and just make for a smoother day (i.e. a mommy-doesn't-lose-her-shizz day).
1. Peaceful mornings
I use the word "peaceful" lightly here, as we are dealing with children after all, I mean come on now! Let's be real. But I have found that the most peaceful of mornings for me start out with a positive attitude. Usually 9 mornings out of 10, it is forced. My kids wake up very early and I've just never been a morning person, so it's not easy waking up chipper before the sun has risen. If all I can think of that puts a smile on my soul is coffee, then I just think of coffee. Some days I'm able to muster more exciting thoughts, like accomplishing goals or doing something fun that day. But it just helps so much to wake up on the right side of the bed.
I find that if I drag my feet too long, our mornings turn chaotic. So getting the kids fed helps cut out a lot of the whining that can turn a day sour before it even begins. Positivity and food help everyone in the morning. And coffee.
2. Monitor phone use
Looking at my phone feels like a nice break at first, but before I even realize it, I start becoming overstimulated. The glare, the constant scrolling, seeing that parenting article a friend shared which condemns the very thing I'm doing, my kids vying for my attention in the background...it ain't a pretty picture.
My best days are the days I monitor my cell phone use.
3. Keep meals simple
One thing that helps me from feeling overwhelmed is having ingredients for simple meals. Preparing dinner while taking care of small children can make even the Mother Teresa of mothers lose her shizz, so I try to not make anything that requires 100 ingredients. I love to cook, but for the love of my sanity, simple is my middle name right now.
I also have go-to, easy to prepare food for my kids if I don't feel like cooking. I roll up sliced deli meat and add cheese and fruit to the plate. BOOM, done. My boys also love sandwiches and a few raw veggies, like carrots. Other easy meals are anything roasted and anything from the crockpot. Either one of those you can pretty much put whatever it is you want to eat in there and it comes out tasting amazing without hardly any effort on your part. That's my kind of dinner!
4. Quiet afternoons
I still have one child who naps, so while I'm putting him down and then afterwards while he's sleeping, I let my 4 year old play on his tablet. I look forward to this quiet time midday! If you don't have kids who nap, have them do a quiet activity for a certain amount of time or put on a movie, etc. But one thing I have let go of is thinking I need to constantly be stimulating my kids. They can be alone, doing their own thing while I do mine. Everyone needs down time.
If you have a baby and a young toddler, God bless your soul. Try to steal quiet time where you can.
5. Keep bright lighting and loud sounds in check
I try to do this all day long if I can. I don't live in a bat cave (although I would totally love that) but I don't like a ton of light all day long, so I open the blinds only partially and I keep the tv pretty low. At night, I turn off most of the lights and keep only a lamp on. This helps me unwind a bit since usually dinner time is chaotic.
6. Bedtime Routine
This is just as much for my kids as it is for me. Routines are comforting because we know what to expect. Part of our bedtime routine starts with me picking up the day's clutter (not all the time, to be honest. But on my good days, this happens and it helps). A clean kitchen and living room does wonders for my mood. The less chaos, the less overwhelmed I feel. My kids know after I've picked up that they're either going to get a bath or get their pajamas put on and have their snack before bed. (Do your kids also eat 300 times a day?)
7. Recharge with alone time
My favorite part of the day, can I get an amen? I like to be intentional with this time. Some nights, it may just be eating in peace while watching Grey's, but most nights I like to get my planner out (it's more of a spiritual/goal-oriented/self-growth type of planner) and just look at everything I have written for that week. I visualize my goals, write anything down that I'm thinking about or that I'm grateful for, etc. I usually do some kind of writing, either on my blog or my book (where I go into more detail about this nightly routine) after I'm done with my planner. Writing always balances me. Doing anything that you have a passion for or interest in helps you recharge in more ways than just physically. Which every mama needs.
So those are the 7 things I try to do every day so that I can be the best mom I can be while still taking care of myself too. Because I've found when I neglect myself, I either over-indulge in things that make me feel worse (and make me feel guilty because I'm not present) or I burn out.
What are things you do every day that help you from getting to that point where you feel overwhelmed by motherhood?