If you’re an exhausted mom, I’m about to walk you through the steps you can take for a much-needed break.
Sometimes I am so utterly bone-tired that I feel like I don’t even have the energy to walk around my home.
My eyelids feel so heavy that it’s as if I could fall asleep on my feet.
I begin to get overwhelmed that all of the responsibilities of homemaking and motherhood rest on my shoulders, and I’m too tired to keep up with everything.
Have you been feeling this way, too?
If you’re dying for a breather–a chance to spend less time on everyone else and a little more time on yourself–hang with me.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to rearrange your life for one week to reduce some of your stress and overwhelm.
If that sounds like something you need, whether now or in the future, read on.
Overview: How You’re Going to Get a Break
Okay, Mama, here’s how this is going to work.
- You’re going to evaluate everything you do on a daily basis;
- You’re going to simplify your responsibilities as much as you can;
- For one-week, you’re going to do as little as possible for others, and
- You’re going to do as much as you can for yourself.
Please don’t feel like you’re being selfish by focusing on yourself a little extra!
For one thing, it’s NOT selfish.
For another, you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
Your family wants a happy mama.
When you feel the stress and overwhelm taking over and making you less than the mom you aim to be, then it’s time to refill your OWN cup for a change.
Sorry, I didn’t buy you plane tickets…
We’re assuming for this post that your kids aren’t getting mailed to your in-laws so that you can go on a two week vacation to a tropical island.
In fact, we’ll even assume–worst case scenario–that no one is able to give you any extra help during this “break.”
So how on earth are you supposed to get any kind of a break when your responsibilities are the same and your kids are still underfoot?
Well, first of all, I want to make sure you understand that the break we’re working toward in this post is more of a breather than a vacation.
I’m going to help you simplify three main areas of your life to the maximum extent possible to lift some of that overwhelm off of your shoulders and free up some of the time you normally spend taking care of others.
Our goal will be to lessen the duties on your plate so that you can focus on doing a few extra little things for yourself.
I’m really sorry if you were hoping I was sending you on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.
In reality, though, I think this will be more helpful because you’re going to learn how to make life easier, at least temporarily, so that when you feel the overwhelm creeping in, you already know how to take a step back and send the stress packing.
3 Areas to Simplify
Here are the three areas in your life that we’re going to simplify:
Your goal in evaluating these three areas is to determine the bare minimum “must do” tasks required to keep your home functioning (and you from losing your mind).
Everything else is getting scrapped.
Don’t worry, it’s just temporary!
On top of that, though, we want to simplify the “must do” things so that they require as little effort as possible.
Worried You’ll Get Behind On Things?
You need a break for sure, but obviously, you don’t want your house to fall to pieces in the meantime.
With a little advance planning and strategy, we’re going to find that balance.
The last thing we want is for your overwhelm to double at the end of the week when you have to catch up on all of the things you let slide.
For the most part, you shouldn’t have any catching up to do!
Let’s look at each category in depth so that we can start figuring out what to simplify.
Obviously, your family still has to eat, so feeding them is an essential task we can’t cut out of the picture.
However, there are several things we can do to make the whole process much quicker and easier.
The first thing you should simplify is your meal plan.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Spend less time searching for new recipes
- Cook one-skillet/one-pot/sheet-pan meals
- Make simple dishes without a recipe
- Mostly buy ingredients you don’t have to prep
- Get frozen/pre-made meals or meal kits
- Try out a meal delivery service’s trial with a discount
- Choose meals that cook themselves (e.g. don’t require constant stirring)
Save the gourmet meals for after you’ve been recharged.
For now, make it easy on yourself.
Plan meals with minimal prep that don’t use a lot of dishes.
Think sandwiches, frozen lasagna, whole roasted chicken with a toasty baguette… I even give you permission to serve oatmeal for dinner.
I have a cheat-sheet of simple, no-recipe meal ideas included in the corresponding printable, so make sure you grab that before you close the page!
I am someone who enjoys grocery shopping, but once I had a baby, it became a very different experience.
Between the distraction of a child and the clout of mom brain, a trip to the grocery store takes way longer than it needs to and without fail, I always forget at least one thing I REALLY needed.
I finally bit the bullet and started using the free grocery pickup service at my Walmart and seriously, it shook my world.
If you haven’t tried grocery pickup before (outside of a pandemic) YOU NEED TO.
Not only does it save me time, but also saves me money!
I don’t spend extra time browsing or searching for things I can’t find, or making trips back and forth across the superstore for things I forgot, AND
I don’t have to make a shopping list, because as I meal plan, I just put the ingredients straight into my online cart, AND
I can stay on budget much more easily because I can see the total as a I shop.
Even if you never do it again, try it for this week.
Use the time you save to do something for you.
Like I said in the meal planning section, your menu should consist of meals that require little to no prep and don’t dirty a lot of dishes to cook.
Throughout the process of cooking dinner, clean as you go.
Since you have to be in the kitchen anyway, you might as well save yourself a little time later.
- Wash up your cooking dishes (or load them in the dishwasher),
- Put ingredients back,
- Clear off the counters,
- And if your dishwasher is full of clean dishes, get those put away so it’s ready to load again after dinner.
For this week, you might even want to consider using disposable dishes, at least for a meal or two a day.
If you have a dishwasher, then eating off of real plates might not set you back that much, but if dishes are something that normally cause you a lot of headache, then take a break from them!
If you don’t have a dishwasher (like me), and you don’t plan to use disposable dishes, I’m going to let you in on a couple of efficiency tricks that help me get through dishes faster:
- Sort your dishes before you start washing: stack plates together, bowls, cups, silverware, etc.
- Any skillets or pans with burned on bits or stuff you’d need to soak off, fill with water and cook on high heat… it’ll come off like magic.
- Wash the dishes in the order you load your drainer (e.g. big plates, then small plates, then bowls, etc…).
- Don’t waste time scrubbing dishes you don’t have to; if something needs to soak for a minute, move on to the next dish.
- Save the dirtiest dishes for last.
- Do silverware just before you do the dirtiest dishes.
Our calendars are another thing that can become overwhelming.
When you’re pulled in too many directions, you don’t get any time to slow down and process or even to be present in the moment.
For the coming week, comb through your calendar and examine the following:
- External commitments
- Other activities
Postpone, reschedule, or cancel anything that you can.
Yes, there are some commitments you should definitely follow through on and appointments that can’t be moved.
But, people DO understand that mamas need breaks.
If you take outings this week other than those which are absolutely necessary, they should be outings you enjoy, like a nice walk, or a date with a friend, or trip to the park to tucker out some kiddos.
DON’T feel guilty about reclaiming some of this time for yourself. I have zero doubt that you’ve earned it, and other people will get it, too.
Ultimately, you’re taking this week to do what’s best for your family… which is give them a happy, destressed mama!
This coming week, you’ll still need to do a little bit of cleaning.
After all, you don’t want your home to fall to pieces and only exacerbate your overwhelm when you’re back in play.
For strategies on how to clean as efficiently as possible.
In this post, though, I’m going to show you how to figure out which tasks to keep up with and which to let slide.
The main cleaning you’ll do this week will be a daily speed clean.
For your speed clean, you’ll want to include only essential tasks.
List out the chores that require the LEAST amount of effort but yield the BIGGEST impact in your home.
For me, these would be things like wiping down the bathroom sink and toilet, vacuuming all of the floors, making the beds, and tidying the living spaces.
I personally don’t include the kitchen in my speed clean because the whole point of a speed clean is to be… speedy.
The kitchen slows me down and so it’s a separate task for me.
Ditch the detail work and the deep cleaning for this one week.
The good thing about deep-cleaning type tasks is that one week shouldn’t make much difference… They require a good bit more effort anyway, so it shouldn’t set you back too much.
Laundry is something I would recommend keeping up with, BUT with some modifications.
Only do enough laundry that you don’t get hopelessly behind.
When the laundry comes out of the dryer, pull out the things that need to be hung up right away.
Then, only fold the things you have to.
- Kids clothes
- T-shirts (like the ones your husband wears to mow the yard)
- Pajamas and lounge-wear
Want to make some permanent changes to your laundry system? Check out this video from The Minimal Mom:
Steps to Simplify Life When You Need a Break
Now that I’ve shown you several ways you can simplify the responsibilities you still have to keep up with, here are the last few steps to taking a break to breathe.
#1. Decide the length of time
I’ve been talking throughout this post in terms of a week, but you could absolutely go longer or shorter.
In fact, a lot of the changes I’ve suggested on a temporary basis, you could use to modify your long-term lifestyle!
Decide how much time you’d like for your break, and commit to it.
#2. Determine everything you can step back from temporarily
You need to physically note down everything you’re putting on hold so that you don’t get sucked back into doing it.
We mamas don’t realize just HOW MUCH we do on a daily (even hourly) basis because we have so many days where we feel like we haven’t accomplished anything.
If you sit down and think through each day of your week and make a list of every single thing you do for other people, you’d probably be shocked.
For this week, you’re committing to taking care of you FIRST.
Which brings me to the last step…
#3. Talk to your husband about your needs and your plan
Bring your husband in on what you’re doing.
Towards the beginning of this post, I had us assume that we wouldn’t be getting any extra help from anyone in order to show you that getting a break on your own IS POSSIBLE.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a rule!
You should let your husband know very honestly what is overwhelming you and why you need to let some things slide for a while.
If he is able, you can even let him know some things he could do to help you pick up a little slack.
Asking for Help When You’re Overwhelmed
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time asking for help.
I think moms are programmed to feel like we have to be able to do it all on our own, and if we ask for help, it must mean we’re failing.
There’s kind of this whole stay-at-home-mom stigma where people assume our job is easy and we just get to sit around munching donuts and watching Friends.
Because of that perception, we’re afraid to let anyone know we think it’s not so easy.
Unfortunately, this carries over into even our own homes.
Many of us struggle to even ask our husbands for help.
After my husband has been at work all day earning a living, why should he have to put in a load of laundry that I (feel like I) should have been able to take care of myself?
But the truth is…
You don’t ask for help because you can’t do it all. You ask for help because you shouldn’t do it all.
Personally, I find it easier to ask for help with a written system than a spoken one.
I included a printable page in your bundle where you can list the top things you need the most from your husband, whether that’s a back rub, or help with laundry, or just a little time to yourself undisturbed.