Last week when I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s recent podcast on overwhelm, I found myself with tears running down my cheeks while putting away laundry. She pierced my soul in all the places that I know so many women can resonate.
Decision fatigue and mental load are very real, and they overwhelm women at a disproportionate ratio to men.
Over the last few years I have done extremely well simplifying my life, so there are very few mundane decisions to make on a daily basis. However, a month ago, it felt like the rug was wiped out from underneath me, and I was drowning in overwhelm. I want to spend more time talking about how we manage this than writing a novel about all the shit that hit the fan at the same time, so here’s the brief summary:
In a four week period of time I had two out of town trips with small children (note, these are not vacations. Traveling with children requires more demands than staying home, parents…feel me on this one). One of those trips was for my seven year old to undergo some intense brain scans at the Amen Clinic. Following that, they placed her on five new supplements to take three times a day (all of which she hates the taste of), placed her on the elimination diet and eliminated about 20 things she can’t have in her diet for a month, and prescribed daily breathing exercises and 30 minutes of daily exercise. All of this while my husband, who normally does all of our grocery shopping, cooking and a majority of the chores, took on several temporary large work projects and was working 80 hours a week, unable to help me with anything around the house or the kids. As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel stressed, we were thrown two stomach viruses, a UTI, the Hand, Foot and Mouth virus, swimmers ear and both pets needed vet ER visits. At one point I went to an urgent care clinic 4 times in 8 days, each for a different human/pet.
A week into the start of this, as I could feel the pressure rising, I decided I couldn’t produce content for a hot minute. I didn’t know how long the season would last, but the brain power it requires was too much. After 18 straight months of producing a weekly blog, I had to press pause.
It felt like one of those movie scenes where someone walks into the room with a large map in their hand. They walk over to the desk, use one arm to push everything off the surface in one fail swoop and then drop the map on the table and demand, “Here. This is where we are going. Let’s determine the path.”
On that seven hour drive home from Atlanta at the beginning of June, when I was processing all that had to be managed (and didn’t even know the additional bombs that would be dropped), I made the decision that all I could handle for a quick season would be showing up for the clients who have already booked me, and making sure that each day myself and the two kids were taken care of and the house stayed relatively clean.
This week, on Monday, I finally came up for air when, for the first time in 4 weeks, both children were dropped off to child care, and Brandon was home. I came back to a quiet house and for the first time since the middle of May I was able to ask “what does my business need from me today?”
I decided to delve into the weeds with you this week because I know you have all felt this before, and I am here to tell you this:
It’s okay to drop a ball.
In case you need to hear it in different words: if you need to neglect something in your life for a hot minute to take care of an urgent priority, you can.
I once heard a working mom on a podcast say, “Balance looks like a juggling act where I am always figuring out which balls I can drop now and pick up later. The thing I am always trying to watch for is that I don’t let a glass ball fall.”
I know that people love to look at moms and say we are “superwoman,” but can I just say the opposite? What if we actually aren’t? What if we just own our humanity and our limitations and stop believing that we have to achieve perfection in every category.
As I mentioned at the beginning, decision fatigue is real. Mental load is real. We can only process so much information in one day.
Sometimes a work project may dominate all we had to give that day, so we just order pizza and tell the kids they can skip bath and sleep in their clothes as long as they brush their teeth before they get in bed. Yes. I’ve done that. Many times.
Sometimes it looks like running from one commitment to the next for so many days in a row that the house looks like a tornado came through and it takes you two weeks before you finally have a chance to put everything back in order.
Sometimes it looks like admitting you need help. Maybe you are in a financial position to hire the help and you can pay someone to take over the laundry, come clean weekly and/or prepare all your meals for you. Maybe you aren’t and you have to admit you’re at the end of your rope and ask someone to just take the kids for a chunk of hours because you need time alone at the house.
Letting a ball drop is part of the process.
Obviously there was a little voice on my shoulder saying things like “you can’t afford to stop producing content. That’s how you grow your business. You won’t attract any new followers or clients if you aren’t putting yourself out there.”
But I chose to ignore her. I listened to the voice that said,
“Or maybe it’s really important for you to go dark right now. Actions speak louder than words and you need to practice what you preach. You can’t preach priorities, rest and self-care if you don’t insert your own boundaries when you need to.”
I would have been no good to my children or my clients if I was over-extended. I chose to let something go so I could maintain high levels of energy and a clear mindset.
I’m not gonna lie…it was hard. I had flashbacks to 2015 when I tried staying home and being the predominant caretaker. My husband told me it was the hardest period of our marriage to be around me. I am a fish out of water spending all day cooking meals and cleaning the mountain of dishes from the cooking and starting over, but I chose to choose joy. I chose to make it an act of love, and I CONSTANTLY reminded myself that it was temporary.
As I write this post, Brandon is currently folding a week’s worth of laundry. He’s back, and the children have returned to full time daycare. All the humans and pets are healthy again. It feels good to be back.
*Side note, I am deeply aware that many women do not have a husband that carries half the load, nor can take step backwards in business knowing their spouse can pick up the income needs. If you are a single mother trying to wear every hat and may not have a strong support system around you, please don’t get trapped in comparison. Each of our paths are unique. The message I would hope that would resonate with you would be that if you have that many more balls to juggle, then give yourself more grace when the balls fall, because they will. You are allowed to be human, not superwoman.
Sophia Hyde is a certified life coach who helps individuals accomplish their goals by identifying behaviors and mindsets that need to change, releasing guilt, and stepping into their potential. If you would like help achieving your goals and getting “unstuck” click here to schedule a free strategy session with Sophia and discover if coaching may be a good fit for you.