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Ok, moms, whether we work as a stay-at-home-mom or a go-to-work-mom, we all have more on our to-do list than can ever be done. I feel it. The women I support in my office feel it. The women of the internet who comment, blog, and video feel it.

Women describe feeling angry, not good-enough, and that what we are able to get done, we’re doing none of it well.  The constant stress of always overwhelmed and never caught up can be crushing and we lose ourselves.

There are many reasons for this stress.

Is it because of an economic system that doesn’t value families and children?

Is it because of that, and a system of patriarchy that teaches women from birth to strongly associate skilled motherhood and homemaking with our worth as women while men have no such association and therefore are often oblivious to the work and attention to detail required to run a family smoothly?

Of course the answer is yes, but on any given day, it’s the reality we have to navigate, and for many women, the added burden of trying to change these systems is just beyond.

Usually, we just look at our list and try to pack in as much as we can and feel just as stressed and overwhelmed as when we started. Angry and frustrated we feel ineffective and deficient, certain that “everyone else” has it all together. (They don’t. I know. I hear the truth in my office.)

So what’s a girl to do?

Just turn it around. Look at the reality of the time you have and then look at what needs to be done. It’s simple, seemingly too simple, but trust me, it works.

Now, there’s one more thing that’s also simple, but super important: Look for the item or items on your list that are stressing you out the most.

Take the time to check in with yourself and get curious about what it is about this task that is so stressful. Try to dig underneath the stress and worry to the underlying fear, like the deeper underlying fear.

The TL;DR version is: people will think ____________ about me if I don’t _____________.

Now that we recognize this underlying fear, we can ask a couple questions:

  1. Do I really need to care about what other people think about this?
  2. If I do, then I need to do this first.

Always do the thing that is stressing you out the most first. The rest of the list will feel lighter, easier, less urgent.

You will have triggered your nervous system to relax because you’ve removed the threat.  The better you get at this, the easier it will be to prioritize your list for less stress and even start to recognize things you really can let go of.

Maybe there will even be a little energy left for smashing the patriarchy.