6 Tips to Conquer Feeling Overwhelmed

You’ve had them. I’ve had them. We’ve all had them. Them? Those hard, the kids are dumping out all the color-coded toy boxes, the phone is ringing, the dog is barking, my inbox is full, we can’t find the math answer book, the baby is crying, and there’s no coffee type of days. You know, those homeschool days where things don’t seem to go right? When it’s 9:05 in the morning and you’re ready for it to be 9:05 at night?

Simply put: days when you are overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed can kind of creep into the day. It starts with one thing, maybe. But with each new piece of chaos, that overwhelmed feeling can grow until the day just feels defeated. But, here’s the deal – it doesn’t need to last.  However, in order to kick overwhelm to the door there needs to be a plan — an exit route — so that the day can be reclaimed.  Here are 6 tips to conquer feeling overwhelmed.

1 –  Pray for Peace.

And, maybe just a little bit of wisdom, because who doesn’t need wisdom? I often pray that “the overwhelm” that fills me would be replaced with peace {and that oh so needed wisdom}. More often than not, those little prayers are uttered throughout the day and in crazy spots throughout the house: while folding the laundry, or explaining how to find the predicate nominative {again}, or as I’m picking up all the books that I had just put away. It’s a constant, and it’s incredibly necessary.

2 – Let it Go.

Let go of what hasn’t gone your way up to this point in the day. It’s easy to start defining the day as “a bad day,” isn’t it? But, here’s the deal: if we start thinking about it as a “bad/hard/overwhelming/throw-in-the-towel day,” then that’s just where it will stay. This is when it becomes really important to let go of focusing on the bad and to find positive moments. So what that you didn’t get all the math done — what did you do instead? Did you read? Or listen as your seven year old tells you about his Lego creation? Those things matter, too. When you starting thinking about the positive and let go of the “bad day” label, the day can totally turn around. (I’m sorry if this point got “Let it Go,” stuck in your head.)

3 – Don’t Compare.

Maybe you read about how this homeschooling family decided to recreate the Pilgrim feast along with incredible hand-dyed textiles and an authentic outdoor setting and just thinking of trying to attempt that makes you sweat uncomfortably. Or you think about how your third grader is struggling with multiplication facts while her best friend is starting long division. All the comparison only produces discontent. And discontent can create anxiety. And, yep, you guessed it: all of this leads to getting overwhelmed.  Don’t let comparison taint your day. Your family is unique — embrace it. In fact, the ability to do things your own way and let your child learn at his or her own pace is one of the reasons we love homeschooling so much to begin with!

4 – Do One Thing.

This is my motto. I’ve got a to-do list that can easily fill several pages. I cannot look at the list all it once. So I choose to do one thing. When your homeschool morning crumbles into chaos, it simply cannot be fixed by grabbing the entire to-do list and tackling it all at once. I know. I’ve tried. Instead, do one thing. Only one thing, and do it well. If the milk spilled, grab the towel, wipe the milk, and shine that section of the floor. If your six year old is running around in circles pull out a craft, get him busy, and then move onto the next thing. One thing. One thing. You can do one thing.

5 – Be the Change.

If I’m stressed, then the family’s stressed. If I want peace in my home, then it has to start with me. Which is why I have to remember not to let the sense of being overwhelmed infect my home. When things start heading that way, I have to be the change. How? If the kids are loud, then I whisper. If the kitchen needs to be cleaned, then I start and help out. If there’s too much excessive energy in the home, then it’s time for me to go out back and do a little PE time. Most of all, sometimes it is just time to do something fun, to start laughing, to remember to enjoy those moments with those kids at home.

6 – Know your Target.

No, not the store Target (because I’ve already got that one aced!)  I’m talking about your family’s target as in, what are you aiming for? What are your biggest, most prioritized goals? Now, do not attempt to define your target while in the midst of one of those crazy and completely overwhelming days. This is a project for those quiet moments of life. Which, if you’re like me, either happen late at night or very early in the morning. When we define our family’s target – or mission statement – it helps redirect our days that veer off course.  Here are some questions to ask as you figure out your own mission statement:

  • What’re the priorities and goals of our family and our homeschool?
  • What matters most/ what are our top values as a family?
  • What does our family agree to do when we hit these overwhelming moments?

Figuring out answers before the overwhelming days strike will help you face them with greater determination and strength.

I’ve homeschooled for eleven years. Let me tell you, there will be crazy, overwhelming, chaotic days — they’re inevitable. What matters is not that these days exist, but what you do with them when they come.  So breathe deep, grab that history reader or novel, go outside, gather up the kids, restart, refocus.

You can do it. I know it.

You can read more from Rachel at Finding Joy as well as on facebook.

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  1. Beautifully written, insightful blog. I think I have been having those days consistently for the last two weeks. :o) Homeschooling is hard work but I have been amazed at how much I enjoy it (not all the time but most). This is my first year homeschooling my 5 year old and I couldn’t be happier at my decision. I am truly inspried by your bio too. If you can do it anyone can!

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for your super sweet words. I remember those early years of homeschooling very well. It is hard work, but very rewarding . It’s so good to hear about how you enjoy it! Remember those moments and look back on them when the days get hard — they’re inspiring.

      Blessings to you.


    1. You’re welcome Wendy. A friend of mine reminds me that the Lord knew that I was to be the mother to my kids and to rest in that truth. It really helps me when I’m feeling discouraged to know that I’m the exact mother those beautiful kids of mine need.


  2. This is awesome. I am reading it to my kids. We sometimes get off track and forget what all we have accomplished. Thank you so much for this great article.

    1. I think it’s so easy to look at everything left to do on our list and forget what we’ve done. I’ve seen my older kids implement some of these ideas on their own. So I think it would be great to read it to your kids — it’s the first part in making “the plan” for those type of days, you know?

      Blessings to you!

  3. Rachel, so so true! I think it’s a hard line to walk, encouraging others in the midst of chaos sometimes…seeing that other people seem to have it all together because that is all they share, or they tell you how to do something. I like your encouraging words…and appreciate them. I’m still new…and on those days, I truly have to NOT listen to the ‘voice’ telling me my kids will never learn and who am I to think I can do this…and instead, turn to the one who can…through prayer, who has this in mind for us and brought us here….Thank you!!

  4. Such calming, grounded advice. Thanks, Rachel. Moms of many obviously are tested to the limits so that they MUST learn these lessons for dealing with OVERWHELM. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Love that prayer is first.

  5. Great tips to help when we get overwhelmed or maybe even see it coming and not get so overwhelmed. With our 3 special needs girls it helps me to have a to-do list. I can check things off and see we are getting things done. Thanks for the reminders.

  6. Tomorrow is a new day. Starting off with a Mission Statement for our family. Right now this is the direction we need to succeed. Can’t wait to begin.

  7. I have found myself really struggling with comparison for a while now. I worried that not doing things like other homeschoolers I know meant my kids weren’t where they needed to be. My 13 year old isn’t ready to go to college already? Well, they must be behind! My kids aren’t enrolled in 3 different co-ops? Their social needs aren’t being met! It was all making me feel like a failure as a mother, and robbing me of all my joy in homeschooling. Then I remembered that I’m not doing this to prove anything to anyone! I’m doing this because it’s what God has called me to do for my children, and as long as I’m pleasing him, that’s what counts. And never in my adult life has it mattered at what age I learned to read, or multiply, or any of those other things. If my kids know all those things by the time I send them out into the world on their own, then it won’t matter what year of school they learned them in. Realizing all that has enabled me to relax, and hopefully this will be our best year yet!

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