Being a mother is the greatest job in the world...but it’s also one of the toughest, demanding and exhausting!
Overwhelm is a common experience for many mothers, and a topic that comes up frequently in conversations - both professionally and personally.
Survey’s highlight this reality: a Motherly survey found that 57% of mothers felt overwhelmed by their daily responsibilities, while the Working Mother Institute, they found that 74% of mothers working outside of the home also feel overwhelmed.
Why is this? And what can we do about this common experience of overwhelm?
1. Unrealistic Societal Expectations:
A lot of overwhelm comes from society placing immense pressure on mothers to be perfect in every aspect of their lives. From maintaining a spotless home to preparing Pinterest worthy meals, maintaining a career, monetizing a side hustle, staying fit, nurturing relationships with friends, family and your spouse…while also raising healthy and emotionally supported children.
It makes sense so many of us feel overwhelmed.
But here's the truth: those expectations are often unrealistic and unattainable. This isn’t a reflection on you as a person, this doesn’t mean you’re failing and this isn’t a moral issue - feeling overwhelmed is a sign that there is too much responsibility for you to handle right now.
Research, such as a study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, supports this perspective. The pressure to meet these idealized standards of motherhood contributes to the feeling of overwhelm that so many experience.
What to think about:
Pause and reflect: What can be simplified? Delegated? Shared?
Taking some load off is an essential step toward balance.
There was a study done in 2018 that found that mothers spend on average 98 hours per week working - whether they are working outside of the home or caring for their children full time.
That’s equivalent to 2.5 full time jobs.
The mental and practical workload is statistically not evenly distributed in many households. Studies still show that mothers perform the majority of household and child-rearing tasks.
This also correlates with a survey that found that mothers are more likely than fathers to report feeling stressed and tired.
What to think about?
Are mental and practical tasks shared evenly with other adults in your home? How can you better share these tasks?
Does validation and acknowledging the amount of work you’re doing change how you see your struggle?
3. Nutrient insufficiencies
The World Health Organization confirms the link between diet and mental health disorders. Research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry emphasizes the significance of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium for mental well-being.
Research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggests that deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, may contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health conditions. In fact there’s a whole area of study looking at the link between nutrition and mental health called nutritional psychiatry!
The issue is that because of the immense workload of caring for young children, it’s easy to put our own nutritional needs on the back burner.
But not eating well can lead to fatigue, mood swings, decreased resilience to stress (i.e. overwhelm), sleep issues, hormonal imbalances, and other disorders and disease.
What to think about?
How can you add more nourishing food to your meals? How can you start eating more intentionally?
Overwhelm is complex - there are no quick fixes. But feeling overwhelmed is an invitation to take a look at what’s going on in your life right now and find solutions to support yourself better.
There are many factors at play - societal pressure, workload and nutrient insufficiency are just three that I’ve highlighted in this article. By embracing more realistic expectations with compassion, shifting workload where possible and nourishing our bodies, we can find more balance and joy in our motherhood journey.
You aren’t alone! If you need support, reach out and we can talk about how I can help.
Your Dietitian Doula