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Resisting Parent Overwhelm – One Drawer at a Time

I am having one of those parenting overwhelm days. The kind of day when you know you have a hundred or more things on your ‘to-do’ list and you have no idea where to start so you do nothing. I call this parenting paralysis.

This feeling of overwhelm starts in my head and I keep thinking about everything I have to do, and then it works its way into my body…I just want to curl up under my comforter, watch Netfix, and wish the day away.

My desk is covered in projects to finish, bills to pay, clients to get back to, and teacher thank you cards to fill out…

My sink is full of breakfast dishes that I can’t put into the dishwasher until I empty the clean dishes out…

The bathroom/laundry room floor is covered in a pile of dirty laundry…

The dog needs to be walked….

The grass needs to be cut….

The dining room table is covered in board games that I promised I wouldn’t move 3 days ago so the kids can finish their game…

I have to get groceries and the kids will be home from school soon…

And I really should be replying to all these client emails.

Ever have one of these days?

You are definitely not alone…we all have these days.

The overwhelm leads to stress, the stress leads to illness, the illness leads to an inability to get things done and you become more overwhelmed.

I have a technique that has helped me over the years and even though I still have these days, they are fewer and farther between.

It is a combination of advice from my mom and my father-in-law.

My mom was an angel, the kindest and most giving person I have ever known. She helped with the kids when they were younger so I could build my business. Mom’s advice seldom came in words, but always action. She lived her life setting the best example for us to follow. As the kids got older I noticed a trend when she would come and help out at our home…she would always have one drawer or cupboard cleaned out and organized by the end of her visit. Just one each visit…but over the years, it was her signature gift to us…one drawer, one task, one item. One step at a time.

I think about this a lot now that she is not with us anymore. Her gift to us was showing us that we can be stronger than overwhelm if we take it one drawer/step at a time.

I don’t much enjoy cleaning out drawers, so I clean the floors every time I have a deadline, and I thank my mom for this. Once the floors are clean, I feel like I can tackle anything and I always meet my deadlines. Less overwhelm for me is a clean floor.

My father-in-law gave me some great advice a long time ago when I was first starting a business at home and raising my kids. I mentioned how I always had three piles on my desk, “Urgent”, “It can wait until tomorrow”, and “I will get to it when I can.”

He thought this was a crazy way to keep up and told me to put all the piles together on a table beside my desk…then take only one thing at a time and finish it. Don’t go onto the next until one is finished. And don’t put anything else on my desk until the one task it done. Brilliant! Now, my piles became one pile of tasks that would get finished, not moved to another pile.

So, on days like today, I know exactly what to do.

I will walk the dog to clear my head.

Then I will do the dishes and throw in a load of laundry.

I will answer emails while dinner is cooking in the crock-pot.

I will clear my desk and choose one item to finish before the kids get home.

I will write thank –you’s when the kids go to bed.

And…I do have deadlines coming up, so I will probably wash the floors tooJ

Start at the beginning. Take care of yourself and only tackle one thing at a time.

You don’t have to do it all at once…baby steps to reducing overwhelm and getting back your stress-free home.

One drawer/step/task, at a time.


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