Picture this: It’s the holiday season, and while the world is brimming with festive cheer, your schedule is spiraling into a whirlwind of commitments. You’re a working mom, and as much as you love the idea of holiday gatherings and creating magical memories, the reality is starting to feel more like a logistical nightmare.
You’re juggling your job, ensuring the family’s holiday traditions stay intact, hosting gatherings, and trying to find a moment to breathe in the midst of it all. The question looms: How can you strike a balance between creating special moments and not becoming the holiday host who’s perpetually frazzled?
But that’s not all. When the holiday season ends and the New Year begins, there’s a sense of déjà vu, isn’t there? The overscheduling and relentless pace continues, leaving you in a perpetual state of high alert.
Does this sound all too familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. As working moms, our life is an intricate dance, especially during the holidays, when the boundaries between work, family, and personal time blur.
From the everyday chaos of managing your family’s schedules to the added pressure of creating the perfect holiday experience, we’ve all been there. Have you ever felt like the holidays are more about stress than celebration, and wondered if there’s a way to make them more manageable?
Believe me, I get it. When my kids were younger, I jumped through so many hoops to make their lives as fun and fulfilling as possible, especially around the holidays.
I didn’t let a minute pass without thinking of some way to educate or entertain them. If they weren’t involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, I took them strawberry picking, apple picking, wreath making, sea turtle watching, and baking, to name just a few.
I didn’t want them to look back on their childhood and think that I did a horrible job raising them. I also didn’t want friends and family to think I wasn’t a good mom.
But now, having the gift of perspective, I can see that overscheduling myself and them wasn’t the kindest thing I could have done for any of us, especially me. While I wish I could go back and give my past self some advice, instead, I’m going to give it to you!
This week I’m going to discuss the overwhelming juggling act, understanding what’s behind overscheduling, and how to stop overscheduling.
The overwhelming juggling act
In the life of a working mom, overscheduling can often be compared to trying to fit a hundred puzzle pieces into a fifty-piece puzzle. It’s an everyday dilemma that leaves many of us feeling stretched to the limit.
For example, let’s say you start your day early, rushing to get your kids ready for school, grabbing a quick breakfast, and heading out to your job. The workday is a flurry of meetings, emails, and deadlines, and by the time you’re back home, it’s time to shuttle the kids to after-school activities.
And then there’s the laundry, groceries, and a list of errands that seem to grow longer each day. Your partner, if you have one, has their schedule filled to the brim as well, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the family’s logistics.
The holidays are no different. In an attempt to create the perfect holiday experience for your family, you find yourself not only planning festive gatherings but also participating in countless holiday events, from school plays to neighborhood potlucks. It’s a beautiful time of the year, but it can be overwhelming.
The truth is that overscheduling becomes evident when there’s hardly a moment to catch your breath, let alone savor the precious time with your loved ones. The result? Stress, exhaustion, and a sense that life is slipping away while you’re frantically trying to keep up.
If you resonate with overscheduling, here are of few of the consequences you may want to pay attention to:
Physical and Mental Burnout: When every day is a relentless sprint, it’s no surprise that you might experience physical exhaustion and mental burnout. This can affect your overall well-being, from sleep quality to your ability to handle stress.
Reduced Quality Time: Overscheduling often means sacrificing the quality of the time you spend with your family. Instead of cherishing moments together, you might find yourself constantly checking the clock, worrying about the next appointment.
Decline in Efficiency: Counterintuitively, overscheduling can lead to a decline in your overall efficiency. When you’re stretched too thin, the quality of your work may suffer, impacting both your career and family life.
Impact on Health: Over time, chronic overscheduling can take a toll on your physical health. It might lead to a weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to illness, and heightened stress levels.
Missing Out on Self-Care: The pressure to maintain this hectic pace often results in neglecting self-care, leaving you with little time for personal growth, relaxation, and pursuing activities that bring you joy.
Thankfully, recognizing the problem is the first step toward finding a solution.
Understanding what’s behind overscheduling
Overscheduling, particularly among working moms, is a complex issue rooted in societal pressures and individual psychology. Let’s delve into why we often find ourselves in this cycle of busyness:
Societal Expectations: One significant factor behind overscheduling is the pressure to meet societal expectations. There’s a prevailing notion that the ideal working mom should seamlessly balance a successful career with being a perfect parent. This unrealistic ideal can lead us to overcommit in an attempt to prove our competence in both areas. Societal norms and peer comparisons can amplify the need to constantly fill our schedules.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): The fear of missing out is a powerful psychological motivator. Moms often want to ensure that our children have every opportunity to excel in various activities. We don’t want our kids to miss out on the chance to learn an instrument, join a sports team, or participate in other enriching experiences. This fear, combined with societal pressure, drives us to overschedule to give our children every possible advantage.
Guilt and Perfectionism: Many of us working moms experience guilt if we feel we’re not doing enough for our families. We may strive for perfection in our roles as both parents and professionals. This perfectionist mindset can lead to overscheduling as we attempt to meet impossibly high standards and minimize the guilt associated with perceived shortcomings.
Dopamine and the Brain: The brain’s reward system plays a significant role in overscheduling. Accomplishing tasks and meeting goals trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation. The satisfaction of ticking items off a to-do list can become addictive, pushing us to take on more tasks, as each completion provides a dopamine “reward.” This cycle can create a sense of accomplishment but also perpetuate the overscheduling pattern.
Time Perception: The brain’s perception of time can also contribute to overscheduling. We may underestimate the time required for various activities, believing we can fit more into our schedules than is realistically possible. This cognitive bias can lead to overcommitment as we strive to optimize our time.
Understanding the psychology behind overscheduling is a crucial step in addressing this issue. It’s essential for us to recognize the external pressures, internal motivators, and the brain’s role in perpetuating this behavior.
By acknowledging these factors, we can begin to make conscious decisions about our priorities and set realistic boundaries to avoid falling into the trap of overscheduling.
How to stop overscheduling
Breaking free from the cycle of overscheduling as a working mom is not only possible but essential for your well-being and the happiness of your family. Let’s explore practical strategies and steps to help you regain control over your schedule and create a healthier, more balanced life.
Prioritize Your Values: Take a moment to reflect on your core values. What truly matters to you and your family? Identify your top priorities, whether it’s quality time with your kids, advancing your career, or personal self-care. Knowing your values helps you make decisions that align with what’s most important to you.
Set Clear Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work, family, and personal time. Communicate these boundaries with your partner, family members, and colleagues to ensure they’re respected. Setting boundaries allows you to protect your personal space and recharge when needed.
Embrace Time Management Techniques: Begin scheduling specific blocks of time for work, family, and self-care. Stick to these time slots to maintain a structured routine. Identify tasks that are important and those that can be delegated or postponed. When possible, enlist help from your partner, family members, or consider outsourcing certain responsibilities.
Learn the Art of Saying ‘No’: It’s okay to decline additional commitments, even if they seem appealing. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t make you less capable; it allows you to focus on your existing commitments and maintain a balanced life.
Self-Care is Non-Negotiable: Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and rejuvenate. Whether it’s reading, meditation, exercise, or simply taking a quiet walk, allocate time for self-care regularly.
Seek Support and Assistance: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your support network. Whether it’s friends, family, or support groups, sharing your experiences and seeking assistance can alleviate the burden of overscheduling.
Reevaluate Your Commitments: Periodically assess your commitments and eliminate those that no longer align with your values and priorities. This keeps your schedule in check and ensures your time is well-spent.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can help you stay present and fully engaged in each activity. This can lead to a sense of satisfaction and reduce the need to overschedule.
Seek Professional Help if Needed: If you find it challenging to break free from the habit of overscheduling, consider consulting a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support.
Give Yourself Grace: Understand that it’s okay to have days when things don’t go as planned. Life is unpredictable, and perfection is an elusive goal. Give yourself grace, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go according to your schedule.
Remember, stopping overscheduling is a journey, not a destination. It requires conscious effort, patience, and a commitment to your well-being and the well-being of your family.
By implementing these strategies and making gradual changes to your lifestyle, you can regain control of your schedule, find balance, and enjoy a more fulfilling life as a working mom. It’s a journey worth taking, and you’re not alone in this pursuit.
In the life of a working mom, overscheduling can often be compared to trying to fit a hundred puzzle pieces into a fifty-piece puzzle.
The truth is that overscheduling becomes evident when there’s hardly a moment to catch your breath, let alone savor the precious time with your loved ones.