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Fighting One Fire At A Time - For Moms Managing Anxiety

There have been many moments in motherhood where I have been completely frazzled to the point of tears. For me, it has often been when I needed to physically do more than one thing at once, multiple times a day. I mean, we all know the chaos that occurs frequently with small children. Everyone needs mom at the same time. There are a lot of messes that occur at the same time. I remember one specific moment years ago, where I thought I was going to lose my mind! I had just started feeding my newborn and my potty-training toddler was standing over a pee-puddle on the floor. (I don't recall what my 5 year old was doing, but it wasn't helping the situation.) Other times, I just had too many serious concerns on my mind at one time. Do you ever feel you are just being torn in too many directions at one time? Maybe you are concerned about someone in your family's health, while one child is having an issue with someone at school and maybe there is a hard financial decision that has to be made. If you allow yourself to get too caught up in every problem simultaneously...nothing is going to be adequately solved and your mental health will probably suffer. One piece of advice my husband gave me years ago, was fight one fire at a time. This doesn't mean never multi-task. Often we can do everyday tasks simultaneously, but that is not what I'm addressing here. Here I am addressing things that give us stress or anxiety.

Sometimes this seems impossible; but you really have to think, "what needs my attention most at this very moment?" Now, what's also going to make you crazy is thinking about the other problem while you are solving the other. Don't think about the spilled milk on the kitchen floor and the groceries waiting at the door while you wash gum out of your child's hair. Try to focus on that issue while you are doing it. This can be hard right because its not just that the other crisis is waiting there for you, but it might also be a toddler LOUDLY waiting for their turn. As you practice remaining calm in these situations, it will be easier and easier to keep your mind focused, so you can move on to the next problem. One thing that may also help is grounding. Grounding is generally physical techniques that may help you "refocus on the present moment to distract yourself from anxious feelings." Healthline has a great list of grounding exercises. One is recite something. For me, I might tell myself. Fight one fire at a time.

This applies to what needs your physical attention as well as what needs your mental attention, even thought the physical seems more straightforward. For example, the dog pooped on the floor, and one of your kids is throwing up because he smelled poop and another is crying because they are now going to be late for school. You can't physically help the child while physically cleaning up the dog mess. So, you have to pick a fire, which is going to be the sick child. But, worries can circle your brain simultaneously. Here's what you can do. Allot a time for worry.

As Amy Morin in Psychology Today explains, "There are several cognitive behavioral strategies that can reduce worrying. . . one of the most effective solutions is to schedule time to worry." So, maybe I'm worried about an issue I want to bring up at parent teacher conferences, I'm also concerned about the check engine light on my car, and I'm also thinking about all the things have to get done as a team mom. If I have these circling my brain all day, its less productive and will negatively affect my mood. As Morin claims and I have found to be true, "Limiting your time to worry can also help you make your worrying time productive. Rather than ruminating (which involves dwelling on the problem), you'll be more likely to look for a solution when you know there's a clear limit to how much time you can spend thinking about an issue." For example, I can decide, I am going to take 20-30 minutes to write out what I want to talk to the teacher about and then I am not going to think about it until the day of the conference. And, another time, I may make a list of my sports duties and plan out when I can do them. This doesn't mean the thought won't enter your mind at other times but you can tell yourself...I have already addressed this issue, or I have a time I will address this issue and move on. What if you have issues that aren't going fit within an allotted worry time. For example, if I am worried about an ongoing health issue. How do I stop worrying when the time is up for the day? Sunja Gupta, a health write for, suggests planning "a transitional activity to engage in when the worry timer is up. You could cook, call a friend, watch your favorite television show, read a book, take a walk, or go for a run."

Of course, these are just a few little tips and tricks I have learned to manage anxiety while being the chaos coordinator while having small children. I hope something in here helped you. For more tips on dealing with anxious situations, read, Why-is-someone-is-always-pooping? If you have more tips, please share in the comments!

The Dragon Mama

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