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working mom

How I Lose the Mom Guilt and Being Stretched Too Thin

January 26, 2020, Author: Tamra Cater

My beautiful daughter is almost 4, yet I still suffer from working mom guilt and being stretched too thin. For example, I still have trouble leaving my daughter overnight anywhere, even if it’s just one night. I do realize, however, that if I do take breaks on occasion, I am much more refreshed! It’s a paradox though- I feel terribly guilty for leaving my daughter with someone overnight, but I also feel better and have more energy.

I also found that I don’t take care of myself like I always should. I hold a huge mental load, as I clean, cook, and pay the bills, while also managing everyone’s doctor’s appointments. It’s exhausting, and I’d be lying if I didn’t feel like I was drowning at times. My husband helps when he can, but I probably need to delegate more tasks to him.

It has become quite overwhelming that I felt the need to seek out a book for help and ideas on how to reduce this feeling of drowning. I also know that there are a lot of working moms out there that could potentially benefit from the same solutions to reducing their feelings of being stretched too thin!

stretched too thin

Solutions for Being Stretched Too Thin

1.Examine your present. 

What are your current circumstances? What does your life look like? Are there too many activities that you are doing that you even dread some of them?

Consider the main areas of your life- your kids, your work, marriage, and self-care. How much have you invested in each of these? Are you not spending enough time investing in one of those areas? I know, for me, self-care has dropped on my list, and it’s something I need to invest more of my time on.

How is your mental load? Are you managing all aspects of your household? If so, you may consider delegating some of these activities to your spouse or someone else in the household.

2. Determine what values are most important.

If you can determine what your values are, you can figure out where you would like to invest your time and energy. Values refer to things that are very important to you. For instance, I highly value my family, so it’s important I spend a lot of time with them.

Thus, it’s important to determine things that you need to do versus things that are nice to do. For example, spending time with my family every day is what I feel like I need to do, while cleaning every day would be something nice to do. It’s not as important that I clean up my house every day.

3. Create Goals

When we are stretched too thin and are overwhelmed, we often have little clarity on what is most valuable and important to us. Thus, this leaves us trying to everything, which is impossible. When we create goals for ourselves, it’s easier to let go of things that are not related to these goals.

For example, it’s important to take care of my body, so I try to work out at least 3 days a week.

4. Track your time

When you keep track of your time, you have more clarity on where your time is going and then you can make choices on what activities and tasks are most important to you. When you track your time, write down everything you do each day for seven days. Do this in 15-minute increments.

Figure out where time may be wasted and if any activities could be streamlined. For example, it often saves me time to figure out some easy crock pot recipes so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking.

Tracking your time can also help you figure out if it would make sense to hire someone for help. For example, if it’s important to you to have a clean house, but there are other things that are more important to you in terms of how you spend your time, consider hiring someone to come once a week.

5. Give Yourself Permission to Be You

Allow yourself to be your truest you. Follow your passions and your career if this is what you so desire. Give yourself that freedom. Drop the unrealistic expectations. For instance, you may not always be able to attend every event that your child participates in. Yes, as parents, we’d love to be there for everything, but sometimes this is impossible. If we hold these expectations that we have to be at every event, we become overwhelmed when we have a million other things to consider.

6. Consider the impact of financial stress

Financial stress can play a big role in feeling overwhelmed. I know it does for me, as I’ve been in this boat for a while. I’ve been fighting and fighting, and we have had our ups and downs with this for years. We are currently exploring other avenues on how to best save money. For example, we recently found out that our town has a discount grocery store that has had some excellent deals on food items!

7. Be careful about too many “shoulds”.

As a mom, I know that I saw “I should clean the house more.” Or “I should take my daughter to the park more.” Let go of this, as this doesn’t serve anyone well.

8. Align yourself with the oxygen mask philosophy.

In the book I read, it used an oxygen mask philosophy. Essentially we need to put on our own oxygen masks and take care of ourselves first before we take care of others around us.

Self-care is difficult for a lot of working moms, as I know it is for me. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we suffer, as well as those around us.

When we take care of ourselves, we are saying that we are worthy individuals and that we matter. It’s so important we keep our own sense of identity and who we are, so we can also teach our children to have their own identities as well.

Thus, model for your children how to negotiate your responsibilities, while also taking care of yourself and keeping your identity. In doing so, it will make you a better wife, mother, friend, co-worker, etc.

9. Take care of your physical needs.

Do your best to get enough rest and eat well. Sleep is a huge priority for me, as this is not something I skimp on. I also try to drink enough water and eat healthy foods. This allows me to be the best version of myself, as I know I’m entirely grumpy at those around me if I don’t take care of these needs.

Final Thoughts on Being Stretched Too Thin

Working moms may experience this feeling of overextending oneself by taking on too much and having a large mental load. However, it’s important to reduce these feelings, so we can be content with our life and be the best version of ourselves. I hope these solutions help reduce your feelings of being stretched too thin and allow you to live a better life!

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being stretched too thin


Turner, J. N. (2018). Stretched too thin: How working moms can lose the guilt, work smarter, and thrive. Revell: Grand Rapids, MI.



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comments (1)

  • avatar image
    VERY good job, Tammy! Still praying for both of you to find that peace. Your recognition of these needs is so important... and mature thinking. You are GREAT!!!! I love you!


    February 3, 2020 Reply