Tips on Parenting: Overcoming Chaos and Overwhelm

Without the abrasion of sand, there would be no pearl!

If you are experiencing overwhelm, chaos and battling mood issues such as anger, depression and anxiety, it can seem completely hopeless. You may feel that although you love your children deeply, the parenting thing just isn’t working out like you planned. You may even have days where you wonder if it is even worth it because your life feels so out of control. In this article as part of my series of tips on parenting, I’ll share from my personal and professional experience of moving from chaos and overwhelm to joy and happiness.

I completely and entirely empathize with your feeling. When my kids were little, I found myself in a full on battle with chaos and overwhelm. I had anger issues and was twice clinically depressed. My house was a mess and my husband and I were often fighting. I wish I’d known then that those challenges would eventually lead to me having a much better life than before I had kids!

So my message to you, based on my personal experience, is one of hope. Although right now it may seem hopeless, even without major change, life will improve. Your children will get older and less messy. You will learn little tricks that will help you get through the day. You also can learn to make some mental adjustments that will make you a happier mom, more able to meet your children’s needs, as well as more able to seize the day for all the good that it has. Today I’m going to share the one major attitude adjustment you can make that will dramatically change improve your family life.

The Best Present You Can Give Yourself!

Although I fully believe that you don’t have to do everything yourself, and you do deserve to be pampered by others, this present you have to give yourself. Lower your expectations for yourself. Many mothers are full of perfectionistic thoughts about how you “should” be as a mother. Those thoughts cause most women to feel hopeless and overwhelmed because you can’t be everything to everyone.

Prior to having kids, I had no idea that I had too high standards! One of the many gifts that our children offer is the chance to become more self-aware. Knowledge is power, and knowing that I have a tendency to expect to much of myself and those I love has been a powerful gift.

As Eckhart Tolle, the author of A New Earth, who did a course with Oprah, says, parenting is the perfect place to reach enlightenment. You are in the perfect place to find joy and enlightenment, although I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it! Just knowing that you can find happiness and that there is a way out of your stress can be reduce your stress dramatically. Wishing that you could escape or drastically change your situation causes you to fight your reality and adds to your stress.

Learning to let go of my excessively high standards was one an incredibly life giving gift. Many of my childless girlfriends have not gone through the same journey of self-discovery because they weren’t forced to find a way to cope. Without the painful motivator to change, they have kept their unrealistically high standards, and their relationships and happiness suffer as a result. I am eternally grateful to be in a more relaxed and joyful place.

So the four points I want to leave you with today are

Lower your expectations dramatically! Take a longer term view of things, and look for small baby steps towards where you want to go. As you become more patient and more convinced that you’ll get where you want to be, change will come quicker. I’ll blog more on this next week.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Read this blog post for more on this crucial parenting skill.
Stay in the present. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth is one of many great books that teaches how to stay in the present. Our obsessing over the past or projecting into the future causes a lot of our overwhelm.
Get help! For each area of my life that I’ve changed, I’ve sought and found fantastic help. I wish when I was so redlined with stress that I knew that help is out there on every conceivable problem. Again though sometimes it takes patience to find the right help for your situation. I have many suggestions that I share elsewhere in this blog, and I’d be happy to point you in the direction that I found helpful.
No matter how stressed and out of control you feel, I know from personal experience that you can find help. At my lowest I even had suicidal thoughts, which in hindsight seems unbelievable. My life is fantastic and my ability to create what I want in life continues to grow. I am a great parent, and have few areas of my life that need major work now, despite feeling close to hopeless in most areas of my life after having kids. If I can do it, you can too!

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