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How to deal with mental overload as a mum

And let your brain have a night off for once!

As women, we like to give others the impression that we have it all together – we work hard, we run a tight ship, we’re raising our kids to the best of our ability, and we post happy snaps on our socials. 

And hands up if you’ve ever added #mumlife to your happy pics - showing your world how much fun you’re having with your kids (yep - guilty!).

But if we’re totally honest with each other, it’s not always glamorous, is it?

In reality, #mumlife would be pictures of an exhausted mum lying on the couch at the end of a long day, before remembering something else she had to do and jumping up again. Or waking up in the middle of the night as she’s just remembered she was meant to bake something for the class party tomorrow and knowing she can’t buy honey joys from the local shop to pass off as homemade.

Sounding familiar?

It’s that constant noise in our mum heads that buzzes away at us like a dentist drill – a little bit annoying and awkward, but necessary.

Most mums will have a mental checklist buzzing through their mind

Most of us mums are suffering from mental overload.

Think about how many things you’re trying to deal with daily, especially at this busy time of the year (we asked some Mums and here are some of their thoughts):

  • Whose sports day is it at school or after school, do they have the right uniform, who’s on pick up/drop off duty for the game, and what happens if I forget one child – will they say I have favourites?
  • What costumes do I need to create for the end of year concert and what food am I providing for a class party – can I cheat and buy one or do I have to show I care by making them from scratch?
  • What do I need to get done at work before I head home for the night or am I going to be working from home after the kids are in bed again?
  • How will I balance the school holidays – are the grandparents available when I’m working, how many day trips will keep the kids amused (and where the hell should we go)?
  • What can I cook for Christmas that will cater to the carnivores, the herbivores, the intolerant and kids who only eat chicken nuggets (and are chicken nuggets ok for Christmas)?
  • Have I ordered the school books for the new year and paid all the right fees so my kids can return to school after the long break – when’s the deadline and when do I need to pick them up?
  • How will I get one kid to cricket and the other to swimming both at the same time and stop to get petrol somewhere in the middle of this?
  • Has all homework been completed, uniforms washed, lunches made, and bags packed for the next day – and is tomorrow also library day?
  • Have all the bills been paid, with enough money left to do the grocery shopping, pay child care and maybe even treat myself to a real coffee?
  • Is dinner on the go for the evening and how healthy is it looking – is it colourful enough to entice fussy kids and tasty enough to be eaten?
  • Can we afford to book a holiday, where should we go, are the kids catered for, have we packed enough, who will look after our fur babies?

And I’m sure there are so many more things you can add!

Our brain isn’t wired for this amount of overload

Many of us live with a feeling that we need to be doing something all the time. We’re wired to be ‘on’ to be available to help with every little thing that arises.

Honestly, it’s super tiring!

Our brains aren’t designed to store and manage all the information, deadlines and demands we force feed it. Seriously – as soon as you tell yourself that you ‘need’ to do something, your brain stores this information and won’t let it go until you’ve done it.

So, it’s in those moments when you’ve finally sat down to chill for the night, that this quietness triggers those memory cells and *bing* it chimes up – ‘remember you were going to do this too’. And up you jump again or you won’t rest.

Or you’re just about into that deep sleep when one of these ‘I must remember to do’ things pops into your mind and gives you a restless night’s sleep.

Here are my top 3 ways to overcome the mother mental overload

  1. Ask for help: Stop thinking you’ve got to do it all by yourself! Ask your partner, your family and your friends to carry some of the load for you. Take each day as it comes. Start by giving yourself a day off by asking your partner to deal with all the ‘things’ that need to be done on a certain day. Make it become their routine and your day for a little time out.
  2. Learn when to say no or take shortcuts: There are some days where you won’t be able to cope with all the demands or keep everyone happy. Be ok with saying, ‘no, we really can’t fit that in today’. Or rather than feeling like you need to handmake a costume or cookies, buy them from a shop (no one is going to judge you, and you’ll probably encourage others that’s it ok to take mum shortcuts).
  3. Get it out of your head: The best way to stop mental overload is to get it out of your head. Use a daily planner and write down everything you need to get done for that day. Assign people to the task and make them responsible for their own actions, so you’re not always the person who needs to remember. Sure, they may forget things while they’re getting used to the system, but soon they’ll get the hang of it, and you’ll find your head is a lot clearer.

Are you a mum suffering mental overload?

Join the club! It’s not overly exclusive though as most mums belong to this club at one stage in their life. Don't forget to reach out for help if you feel like it is all too much!

If you’ve got any further tips or tricks to help Mums overcome mental overload, please feel free to share them below. And if you’re looking for a wall planner you can use to get all of that 'stuff' out of your head, you can check out the Daily Orders wall planner range here.

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