The ability to power through is an internal switch that flips when you become a mom (along with the maternal instinct). But the word “power” implies strength and stamina. All of which have been declining for a while now, at least for this mom.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore?!”
How many times have you heard these words come out of your mouth? And the incredulity that you are doing what you thought was impossible only grows as you get older.
Over the years, I have also discovered that very often, it’s the resiliency and the life experiences that really power us through, not the energy.
Youth is usually on your side when the children are babies, so naturally, you are a bit more energetic. Sleep deprivation is a problem, but taking care of a newborn is your focal point, and it’s a new experience, so you embrace it all. You make the best of it until suddenly, you are putting your “baby” on the school bus heading for the first day of kindergarten one day. You’ve never felt so proud….so far!
Inevitably, our babies grow up, life happens, and the mothership starts to navigate in troubled waters. And mom chooses a path, then starts to follow a pattern without ever planning to cope at least semi-successfully with all the tasks in front of her. She tries so hard not to miss a beat and keeps her family happy. It’s called resiliency and experience. My few coping mechanisms have made me feel productive and less overwhelmed in my journey as a mom and grandma.
Prioritize daily and improvise when possible.
The dirty dinner dishes can wait until morning, but helping your daughter with an essay can’t. So put up your aching feet and get a little chat in with your teen while sparking up some thoughts for her writing. The same night, making tacos and forgetting the cheese because somehow that item on the grocery list never got added on from your big shopping trip over the weekend. Run out to the nearest pharmacy with a fridge section, grab whatever is available and shred yourself. Most likely, it’s more efficient than starting up another meal or ordering take-out!
Own your limitations and predispositions.
If dusting at 10:00 p.m. is your thing, go for it. Keep doing what works for you. Listen to your internal cues. Very often, you can tell how the day will go the minute you get out of bed. If feeling under the weather, try to get through the workday, cancel plans if possible for anything more, order take out, and remember, tomorrow is another day. Hosting and planning family events can be consuming. So try to set aside some downtime after feeling so rundown. It’s not productive but completely necessary.
Welcome distractions when trying so fervently to get things done.
Permit yourself to take a break, even if you don’t feel it’s needed because becoming overwhelmed is bound to happen pretty quickly when you are running on empty. It could be just a ten-minute walk or a short phone chat with a friend while doing a mindless task like loading the dishwasher. In the end, it won’t cut into your productive time and might even provide a boost of energy.
Energize with a power nap, if you can.
Twenty minutes does it for me. Even so, you might still not have enough energy or time to complete what’s on the to-do list, and this is after struggling all week working and caregiving. Do part of a task instead. Wash and dry a few loads of clothes, don’t fold. Let everyone hunt and pick what they need. You don’t need to obsess about starting another load before finishing a task.
Don’t do tasks in the same usual order. Maybe shower at night instead of the morning. If it relieves a tiny bit of stress, it’s worth it. Pick and choose what to open up if it looks important from the two weeks’ pile of mail, don’t waste time going through it all. Pay important bills, if possible by phone or computer. And if that’s too much, do it tomorrow, and add it to the chore list on the notes section of your phone. I have been doing that for years, and something important is never missed.
Redirect your life.
It’s not about all that you can get done before the day is out! Take a minute and text a friend in between all the madness. It’s reassuring to connect with someone who’s most likely in the same boat. And surround yourself with friends and acquaintances of all ages because there’s always some helpful tidbit of advice to gain from each other. This always helps me boost my confidence and cranking out that last bit of energy for one more task.
Eventually, most of the important things we do for our families get done. Remember to live for the enjoyment of the weekend. And fitting in your own favorite activity sometime in between. And when all else fails, go to bed: recharge and refresh.