6 Tips for Surviving When You Feel Like You’re Drowning in Motherhood

Motherhood | 2 comments

Exhausted, brain not thinking clearly, no time or energy to do much of anything so you’re overwhelmed and behind. Parenting is sometimes like that, isnt it? Sometimes it is because of a round of sickness, sometimes it is a season of busyness, maybe it is cabin fever after a bout of bad weather. For me right now it is a newborn.
Those on my email newsletter or who follow me on Twitter may have read my announcement that our fourth son entered the world just over a week ago. As I type this out, he is sleeping in my arms as I sit on my couch. Other than getting up to change a diaper or get a cup of milk for the 3 year old, I have been doing next to nothing since he was born. By noon my brain has turned to mush and having a complete intelligent thought is nearly impossible. (I don’t think I was ever this bad with the others!)  I felt like I was in a similar position after a round of a stomach virus hit us last winter.

By noon my brain has turned to mush and having a complete intelligent thought is nearly impossible.

Here are some tips for surviving when you feel like you’re drowning in motherhood:

Stay hydrated

We all know the benefit of drinking enough water yet many of us still have a hard time doing it. Find ways to make it easier on yourself. Set a timer to remind yourself to have a cup every couple of hours, have a big cup first thing in the morning with breakfast and have your regular coffee afterwards, use mason jars or water bottles and commit to when you want to finish them, remember you don’t have to drink just water. (I have fallen in love with the Takeya ThermoFlask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. We found it at Costco a few weeks ago and it is everything the description says it is. My husband fills his with ice water every evening when he games and he was totally surprised and impressed when he filled it for the second evening and there was still ice in it from the night before! I try to drink 2 of the 40oz bottles each day, in addition to a coffee, milk, and sometimes tea. Sometimes I throw a lemon wedge in there too.


Go to bed early. Nap. It is critical to health and sanity and we all know it. Yet so many moms refuse to do it. I understand you want to have some kid free quiet time in the evening but you’ll find that it doesn’t compare to the sanity gained by an adequate amount of sleep. Napping gets a bit tricky when kids get older and no longer nap but lock the doors, throw on a show or pull out the playdough, and doze on the couch, within earshot. (One of my most popular posts has some more tips on how to survive on interrupted sleep.) Even 20 min of resting your body and mind can be very rejuvenating. My current bedtime is around 9:30pm. Sometimes I go to bed earlier but never later. I sacrifice time with my husband (he does bedtime routines for our older 3 at 8pm and comes back downstairs around 8:20 on non gaming nights) but he and I have been through this stage before and know it is only temporary. Even when I am through the exhausting newborn phase, I still rarely go to bed after 10:30 and set an alarm on my cell phone if I find I’m making excuses to stay up later. And the older boys have learned they are to stay in bed until 7am. The 3 year old sometimes wakes up at 6 but he is still in the side-carred crib, next to my husband, so they snuggle until 7am. Teach them how to read a clock young.

Easy Food

Hit up the frozen meals aisle. I normally prefer to cook from scratch (or mostly scratch anyway) but during this season I’m relying on frozen lasagnas, frozen pizza, canned soup, and easy prep foods and snacks like toast, cereal, yogurt, grilled cheese, noodles, precut veggies, and bananas. Even my 3 year old can prepare himself a simple breakfast and my older two can start the oven and pop a meal in. I’ve also been blessed with an amazing church family and friends who have dropped meals for us.

Maintain Peace

Sometimes this means allowing your 3 year old to have a chocolate chip cookie during breakfast. This may mean using technology more than normal. Or using it less, as it goes in my house. Sending kid to separate rooms for a portion of the day when squabbles get heated. Part of my peace comes in the boys clearing all the toys out of the living room before supper. I have barely looked in the playroom but I breathe a little easier when my main room has some semblance of order after they go to bed.


Ignore the mess. Truly. Yes, you’ll get behind and yes you’ll feel overwhelmed when you are finally able to catch up but you will catch up, step by step. The only one putting pressure on you is you. All you really need is moderately clean dishes (there are no housekeeping police saying you can use breakfast’s toast dishes for lunch’s grilled cheese and a veggies and dip snack) and moderately clean clothes (no housekeeping police here either so wear the same jeans all week and make your kids do the same and don’t worry about folding and putting away for the time being).

Enlist help

More often than not, our spouses are willing to help out. They just aren’t always good at seeing how much we need or what they can do about it. Let him know you feel like you’re drowning and that you need him to rescue you. And give him bite sized and practical solutions. Don’t say the housework is overwhelming, can you clean the house? Tell him the dishes are stressing you out and can he please fill and run the dishwasher. Or the laundry needs to be switched over, or gathered from bedroom floors and tossed in. And be honest with him (and yourself) about what is most important. If the toilet isn’t bothering you, don’t ask him to clean it. If you still have clean clothes, don’t ask him to do laundry. Kids can do the same. They are often more capable than you give them credit for. Be honest with them about the need to come together as a team to keep the household running.

Some seasons of parenting are harder than others.  There is no way around that. But you also don’t have to drown. So take care of yourself, let go of the housework, and focus on relationships and teamwork within your family. I know that I will get through the newborn hazy days, and I know that you will get through the tough seasons too.

Do you have any other tips to get through the tough seasons? I’d love to add them to my list. I’m sure that there will come a time when all 4 of the boys will get sick at the same time and I’m not looking forward to that!

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