Feeling overwhelmed as a mom is a given; it happens to me often! What makes it even worse is the thought that my kids might suffer because I don’t have enough time, energy or mental capacity to give them everything they need. But lately I’ve realized that having a busy mom can often be a GREAT thing for kids. Read on to find out why and how I feel kids thrive when mom is overwhelmed.
It seems that motherhood can, at times, evoke all KINDS of unpleasant feelings from even the best moms: frustration, anger, anxiety, insecurity and most of all, overwhelm.
And it’s no wonder we often feel like there’s just too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Running a household is enough to make anyone crazy (laundry, meals, toy clean up, toilet scrubbing). Also, not to mention, the idea that you (and your spouse) are solely responsible for teaching your children how to be kind, upstanding, contributing members of society. Sometimes that last part makes me cry just thinking about it!
But before we succumb to the worry-demons, let me just say that I believe that having an overwhelmed mother can be one of the BEST things for a child.
First of all, let me specify that I’m not talking about the kind of mom who’s so overwhelmed she becomes a crazy person. I am passionate about helping every mother know her limits and take great care of herself regularly. We also need to make sure we’re making time to connect one on one with our kids. This is usually one of my biggest challenges!
What I mean by “overwhelmed”, in this context, is that I think it’s good for our kids to see that mom is busy. They need to see our work load, understand our stresses and know that we have much more on our plates than being their entertainment coordinator and finding them their favorite T-shirt.
Specifically, I have FIVE reasons why kids need a mom whose life is full.
Kids become independent very quickly when mom isn’t always available to help them with every little thing. When our twins were born, Juliet was barely 2 and I was constantly amazed at how quickly she learned new skills when I was lying in bed trying to sleep off a terrible night of cranky babies. She learned how to make toast, pour cereal, get dressed and (most importantly) turn on her favorite movie, Tangled.
Part of me felt horrible that I couldn’t be more lucid for her at that young age but in retrospect, I know that all it did was help her develop crucial life skills very early on! Even if we don’t have infant twins or a billion kids or a career to keep us busy, it can be really beneficial to allow our kids to accomplish tasks on their own, even if we ARE in a place to help them. They learn to deal with the curve balls of life and develop a resiliency that will last into adulthood.
Kids learn to serve others when mom is unable to do everything. Sickness, work deadlines, pregnancy and other stresses in a mom’s life mean that kids get the opportunity to give service to their siblings, parents and the community because mom can’t.
I have been floored by my children’s empathy and understanding when I’m facing struggles and their willingness to step up and fill in the gaps. It’s difficult for a child to serve his family if mom automatically takes care of everyone’s needs. Even if we’re not experiencing an overwhelming period of life, I believe that if we step back and allow our children the opportunity to pitch in, they’ll thrive at the chance.
Being aware of the needs around them is kind of essential if we want our children to be service-minded. There’s nothing more irritating and calloused than an adult who fails to help out those around him because he’s so focused on filling his own needs. I’ve realized that if I want to raise children who are sensitive to those who require assistance, I need to exemplify that.
As moms, we naturally serve others before ourselves because usually we’re surrounded by helpless children 🙂 But I try to help my older children gain awareness of others’ needs by pointing them out regularly. For example, “Liam, before you make yourself another sandwich, can you make sure everyone else has had one?” or “Toby, the baby’s out of clean clothes, can you go start a load of laundry?”
By giving my kids a chance to look up and see what tasks need to be done, I hope that they learn to make serving others a way of life.
I used to just hate when my children whined “I’m boooooored!” I realize now that my dislike of that phrase stemmed from the (erroneous) thought that I was responsible for my children’s entertainment and happiness.
That’s just not true! We could spend hours of time and thousands of dollars trying to satiate our children’s desire for the latest and greatest entertainment when in all honesty, I believe that the best thing we can do to entertain them is…nothing. Now, when I hear “I’m bored!” around our house, I make mental note that that child has had either too much screen time or not enough chores.
When we get out of our children’s way during play time (and stop scheduling endless play dates, park trips, extracurricular activities and lessons), our children learn to dig deep and use their fabulous minds and imaginations to play and create. If you’d like to read more about why (and how) to give kids more unscheduled free time, read this post.
5. Value of Parenting
When my kids see me trying to put my family first, even while busy with church, work and community obligations, I hope they learn, above all, that family is the most important thing. I want my kids to become parents who work for a healthy balance between raising children, loving a spouse, contributing to the world and serving God.
But here’s the trickiest part: if we fail to make our children and families our own top priorities, we run the risk of teaching our kids the exact opposite. I hope my children remember me as a mom who had unique interests and talents, her own personality and sense of self-worth, but who still chose to spend the most time with her family.
I’d love to hear what you think about being an overwhelmed mom! Do you feel that filling your life with good things benefits your children? Or does it make you feel too fractured to care for your family?