I just survived Valentine’s Day, which while a fun holiday, requires the epitome of everything I am not: crafty and organized. As my kids get older, the simple perforated valentines won’t do. They want something that requires a level of artistry not natural to me. Also, gone are the days you just write their name on each one. Now we are addressing them individually for four kids in different classes, each brimming with children. Keeping it organized and “fun” just requires so much of my brain space.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that TEN DAYS before Valentine’s the Target shelves were completely bare in the holiday section. TEN DAYS. I thought I was actually being proactive and on top of it going that early.
Why rant about an innocent fun little holiday? Because this sugar bomb day was the cherry on top that weighed so much it smashed the entire sundae. It felt like one more thing to manage. I don’t know about you, but my managing list is full and has been for some time. I don’t need more to manage, especially something with high emotional stakes (for my children) like Valentine’s Day. I went into this holiday with crumbs of energy and mere ounces of brainspace to give, and as we dumped out the cards to begin decorating and addressing last Wednesday afternoon I was smothered in overwhelm.
It hit me hard, like that proverbial sundae cherry was sitting heavy, and then overwhelm came in like a thick caramel syrup and sealed it all on, rendering me useless and not much fun. I didn’t have the calmness and patience to help Annabelle (why did we make her name so long?!) painstakingly attempting to write her name 21 (21!!) times. Or carefully punch out 23 doggy faces that needed sticks glued to them. Or respond appropriately when we spelled Cora’s (not the real name, just trying to protect the innocent) name wrong for the third time and ran out of envelopes. What should be a fun thing, turned into a mom in a heap on the bed at 4:45 (why is 4:30-5:30 pm the worst time of day?!) on a Wednesday questioning all life decisions.
Jokes aside, overwhelm is a very real thing. It can creep in slowly or hit you across the face like a hard slap. I’ve been there so many times. Either frozen in my ability to do anything because where do I even begin or giving up on everything because I’ve got nothing left to give.
Overwhelm doesn’t have to be an all or nothing emotion. It may knock you over, but you don’t have to remain lying down. You can move from complete overwhelm to a fully engaged reset by practicing some simple mindful exercises and choosing the path you want.
See, the valentines weren’t in and of themselves what caused the overwhelm, it was the pile up of other items in my head that tipped me over. By calming my nervous system (a very simple and practical practice), I could choose to focus on just the valentines in that moment.
If you are worried about forgetting the other items rolling around in your head, make a quick list. It will help free up brain space and energy. If you have concerns about when the other items will get done, that is okay. Consciously make a choice to set them aside and come back to them at a designated time. For example, mentally picture setting them aside and then decide to revisit at 8 p.m. when kids are in bed. Once they are in bed make a long list. Then pick 1 EASY thing to tackle or chip away at. It’s often the total that overwhelms us, so a small win will help you feel better and like you are making progress.
Do you need this like I do? Great! I made a free printable or screensaver you can use with four simple steps to help you overcome overwhelm in the moment.