10 Hacks to Be Less OverwhelmedCreate a family vision on a yearly basis. It helps you feel much less overwhelmed because you have deep, meaningful answers to those big life questions.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
Do you feel overwhelmed by your life at home with young children? I’m a mother of 5, I run my own business, I homeschool part-time… I have a lot on my plate (and I know you do too). It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed!
But we’re not helpless. There are things within our control that can make a big difference and reduce the overwhelm in our lives.
Today, I’ll give you 10 hacks to help you reduce the overwhelm:
You’ve heard me say this a million times before if you watch my channel, but less is more. I am not a hardcore minimalist. We have lots of stuff. But I do routinely declutter and it helps me be less overwhelmed. Clutter is physically and emotionally overwhelming. Anything you can declutter — one drawer, one closet — is going to snowball you into feeling better and less overwhelmed. I dedicate several hours a week simply to decluttering and going through my closets. This ongoing upkeep actually makes me feel less overwhelmed. When you have little kids, it’s totally worth it. That’s why in my Present Play membership, we revisit the theme of creating space every single year.
- Storage Systems
You can create a storage system even in the tiniest of spaces. I’ve done it myself, living in a small, two-bedroom apartment. We dedicated an entire wall just to my storage system. It wasn’t pretty, but it made our lives less overwhelming. When you have a good storage system in place, you can rotate toys in and out. You can have capsule wardrobe collections that fit the season. Having a functional storage system is absolutely crucial and I spend a fair amount of energy maintaining my own. But I do it because it makes the rest of my life streamlined and less overwhelming.
- Clean As You Go
Personally, I get very overwhelmed when I see things piling up — the kitchen counter getting out of control, the sink piling up with dishes, the laundry piling up throughout the week. What works for me is more of a day-to-day, ongoing maintenance — doing several rounds of laundry throughout the week rather than waiting to do it all at once, or loading the dishwasher after every meal rather than just at the end of the day. I get overwhelmed by the feeling that my home looks like such a crazy, chaotic mess, and if someone were to come over, I would probably be embarrassed. But most of all, I want to live in a home that has a good atmosphere. By doing small things as you go along, like making your bed when you first get up, picking up the toys after your child is done playing, washing the dishes after each meal, then you’ll never get that overwhelming sensation that the task is too big and you don’t have time to do it.
- Batch Your Cooking
Now we all like a fresh meal straight out of the oven for dinner. However, if you are busy and overwhelmed, then getting stuff done first thing in the morning can be really helpful. In a way, this is the opposite tip from the previous tip, which was to do cleanup in an ongoing maintenance kind of way — but when you’re doing prep, I like to do batching. For example, if I’m getting up and cooking breakfast, I could cook or prep some things for dinner. If something needs marinating or defrosting, put it out in the morning. Most of us have a big energy dip in the afternoon hours. At 4 o’clock, I’m exhausted and don’t feel like making anything. That is probably the time where I’ll make the worst decisions about what to make for dinner. I’ll suddenly just opt for a frozen or less healthy option, whereas in the morning I have more energy because I’m not exhausted from the day. So this is a way of foreseeing your future needs and taking care of them in the morning.
- Consistency & Routine
We all have very different lifestyles. Maybe you have already got a very clear routine in place because you take your kids to school at a certain time, or you start work at a certain time. Or maybe you’re unschooling and have a completely wide open schedule and things are not consistent. Maybe some things are consistent and some things aren’t. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if there’s some point you could create more consistency in your day — a set mealtime, or a fixed wake time or bedtime, for example. Big fluctuations in our routines and schedules often overwhelm us because humans are creatures of habit and we’re used to circadian rhythms and repetitive rituals. Young children especially love recurring predictability. Find the elements of your routine and schedule that are unreliable and reflect on ways to eliminate some of that decision fatigue and overwhelm by setting things up in a more consistent and routine way. Creating consistency takes a certain level of sacrifice and commitment, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, I think it’s worth it.
- Buy in Sets
When you feel overwhelmed physically by the stuff in your home or by making consumer choices, there is something very liberating about buying things that are basically a set or all the same. For example, all our towels, kids’ coats and kiddie bowls are basically the same. We don’t argue over who gets the red bowl or the blue bowl. We don’t have to have comparison-itis or arguments or competition over which coat someone’s buying. Even with holiday gifts, we often buy basically all the same, just maybe different colors or sizes for the children. A few years ago, I found boots that I really loved for my kids, and because I have several kids, I bought the next sizes. So it was one decision that I researched and spent time on, but then it served me for years to come.
- Store Things in Groups
Many people have several places for the same things — like several areas to store toys or several places where you might find the shoes or linens. If you can try to locate things physically all in the same place, it can really help. You find things quicker, they get lost less easily and things are just less overwhelming. For example, where does all your incoming mail go? Where do all the socks go? I like to store all the socks right next to the shoes. Another example is swim gear or summer stuff like hats and sunglasses and sunscreen. If you can store all of those things together, then when you need to grab them, you know where to find them. In other words, store things in a way that makes sense to you and that doesn’t have you searching for things and getting overwhelmed by missing pieces or lost items when you need them most.
- Have a Family Color Palette
This is a design tip with a lifestyle hack, all rolled into one. For example, perhaps you buy clothes, shoes, gear, furniture and even kitchen utensils all in neutral tones, or all grays and cool tones, or you love all the warm and earthy tones. It really helps with the visual clutter and overwhelm to have a streamlined palette around you. It also helps you with decision fatigue and choice paralysis. When you go to pick out a new salad bowl or a new pair of boots, you know what kind of colors fit into your world. Everything is easily recognizable as something that is for you or is not for you. I find this really helps when I’m shopping for clothes for my kids. I know that I look for more muted, neutral color tones. So if you are drawn to certain colors, then you might let yourself commit to that even when you’re buying a vase or a cushion or clothes for yourself. You’re always going with those colors and you’re letting them kind of define and contain you.
- Get Clear On Your Vision
Every December in Present Play, we work on creating a vision for our family. It’s something that changes and evolves with time, but it is so liberating because when you know who you are and what you stand for, what your goals are, what your bucket list is, then you’re not so easily overwhelmed. You have less choice paralysis and comparison-itis because you get clear on who you are. You’re not constantly wondering, “Should we do this? Should we live there? Should we educate like this? Should I sleep train? Should I breastfeed?” It all becomes clearer to you as you’ve already done the work to establish what your goal is with your family, where you’re headed, what your vibe is, what your values are. So get really clear and create a vision on a yearly basis. It keeps you on track and helps you feel much less overwhelmed because you have deep, meaningful answers to those big life questions.
- Put Systems in Place
If you were running a business, I bet you would care about having good systems for time management, diaries, calendars, schedules, systems, routines, and all sorts of checklists and to do’s that would help to keep you and your team on track. Well, my friends, you are running your own team, which is your family. You’re the CEO, you’re the co-founder. You have really created this hub, and you want to run it smoothly. So if you’re not putting systems in place that empower you to be more productive and effective, then you’re missing out on an entire chunk of tools that could really help you. Think calendar syncing, Google spreadsheets, meal planning, running shopping lists that get shared between family members. All of that type of thing is going to help you be less overwhelmed when you have little kids. In Present Play, we dedicate another whole month to creating flow and time management so that we can be productive in our days and live our days in accordance to our vision for what we’re creating with our family life.
I hope these 10 hacks will help you create a little more family bliss, and a little more space to simply be present and enjoy your children. Did you find these tips helpful, and if so, which one do you most want to implement? Leave a comment below and join me over on Instagram @parentingjunkie!