Hey there, and welcome to this episode of Parenting in the First Three Years. I am really happy to talk with my guest about this topic of finding balance in the chaos of parenting. And I have just gotten back from a week in out of state with my, both of my daughters, and they are both in the thick of parenting and different stages of parenting. And chaos can come on pretty quickly. 

I’m really happy to invite my guest to join me. This is Lori Oberbroeckling, and she is the founder of secrets of super mom, and she’s got her own podcast. She’s got a book. She has tons of wisdom for all of you today. And I’m so happy to have you. Thanks for joining me, Lori.

So glad to be here. So I know that in your work, you work with a group of moms of young children, and, you know, we’re talking about this finding balance in this chaos. And I know that’s really one of your most important things that you do with your with your group. Can you share from your own experiences, both personally and also with some of the moms, what are some factors that lead to this feeling of overwhelm?

Like you just can’t do this anymore. Yeah, I think so from my own experience, it was not wanting to ask for help. And also wanting to quote, do it all. Right. So I always say I help moms do it all without doing it all, but I actually was trying to do it all. Right. I wasn’t asking for help. I wasn’t hiring out. 

I wasn’t relying on family or or friends or neighbors or anybody. I wasn’t asking for help. And it just gets to a point, life gets to a point where if you keep saying yes, and keep adding to your plate, and then never ask for help, or never take things off your plate, it will get too full, right? Some of us have a much larger capacity, right?

Some of us could carry around a platter and some of us maybe can only carry around a saucer, but our plates all will get full at some point. And so even though I see myself as a platter holder, right. And some of our clients are anywhere in between, right? Some of them got a dinner plate. Some of them a saucer, some of them a platter bigger than mine.

And we all get to have the plate that we have, but at some point it will get too full.  When it does, that is when we start not enjoying even the things that we love. We start feeling out of balance, right? We know that feeling of it feels like too much. And for me, I feel it in my body, right? I can feel the pressure in my chest. 

I can feel that sort of pit in my stomach. Some of my clients will say, I feel tension in my neck or my shoulders. I kind of feel like I’m going to throw up, right? They just feel, they’ll feel pressure in their head or their eyes. And you just start to feel that in your body and you know.

This isn’t it, right? This, I am not where I want to be and sometimes, right, if we’ve been there before, we might know how to get out, but so often we haven’t been there before and we don’t know how to get out. Right, right. That really is a really neat analogy. And as you were talking about your plate being too full. 

I was thinking about Thanksgiving dinner  pictures the other day, and last year at Thanksgiving, my daughter took a picture of everyone’s plate and then send them to somebody to judge and see who had the best plate. But I was just looking at my own plate that I had made for myself to eat. It was just piled high with all of this stuff that I could never eat. And if I did eat it all, I would feel so bad. That’s why we feel so bad on Thanksgiving day or anytime we overeat. And it’s a really, it’s a really neat analogy and a word picture of what it feels like to have your platter so full up to your neck and work and kids and all of the stuff that you kind of make yourself sick. 

Yeah, there’s nothing else that fits. You make yourself sick. And then the things that fall off, you have no control of now, right? The mashed potatoes are like oozing off one side, and you’ve got a piece, like a chicken bone, just falls off, right? Or a turkey bone, I mean, things just start to fall off without any control because you’ve piled it so high. 

Now, you know, and like people will call it like dropping the balls, right? Your ball, you just start dropping balls and without decision, the feeling of balance is having that control. You might have to drop a ball, but you get to decide what ball you drop. You get to decide what you take off the plate versus it just happening to you. 

Right. Yeah. And also if that plate is so full, you don’t really enjoy your dessert at all. Not any of it. You don’t get to enjoy any of the things, right? It’s all mixed up in a mess. And I mean, I don’t like my food to be touching actually. So I do not like a full Thanksgiving plate. So like everything tastes like the same thing and it all is kind of terrible, right?

 None of it is filling you up with just so much joy, right? You’re not getting to totally enjoy your stuffing. You’re just having it covered in all the other stuff. Right. Yeah. That’s so funny. You know, I remember as a young mom, I was an early childhood teacher. I took care of infants and toddlers, like groups of them,  anywhere from four to 12 babies all day, every day.

I thought there’s nothing about this mothering thing. That’s going to stress me out. I know what to do. Right. I know what to do. Nothing surprised me about the kids. But what surprised me was my own response. Response to the kids, you know, and to me, that was probably  what made me feel so overwhelmed was just the emotional response that I had when this kid would not stop crying  when they would do things that were, you know, triggering for me, you know? 

That’s it. And we get so overwhelmed by it. And then we don’t know what to do with that. Right? So some of us will shut it in. And so we feel like it’s going to explode, but it doesn’t actually explode. So you feel like you’re constantly on edge because it’s just stored in there. Right? It’s like, you feel like a ticking time bomb. 

And then some of us let it out. So you might scream at a child. You might scream at your spouse. You might throw something that you didn’t really intend to throw, right? You might actually let it out, but either way you feel terrible because those that let it out feel terrible about how they reacted. And there’s that don’t let it out, feel terrible about how they feel. 

Right. So no matter what, we’re not in a good spot. Yeah. So, you know, we’re talking about this whole thing of finding balance in this state of mind.

How do you suggest that parents distinguish between what’s just ordinary fatigue? Because, you know, it’s kind of like running a marathon. You just have to pace yourself with parenting. 

But the difference between ordinary fatigue and busyness versus I got to do something here. I am overwhelmed above next level. Yeah. So we asked the question, am I getting all the things that I need in my life right now? If you’re nursing a baby and that baby is waking up every hour to eat and you are barely sleeping for maybe 30 minutes in a row. And your total count of hours is like three and a half. And when you’re up with your other kids, you feel like you’re going to throw up and you feel really exhausted. Yeah, because you really are exhausted, right? There is no way around that level of exhaustion.

And of course you will feel overwhelmed because everything at that point becomes overwhelming, right? So, it’s really, those things are the first thing. If none of that’s happening, right, if you’re not eating, sleeping, moving, then you already, Are going to feel overwhelmed with anything now, if you are getting some sleep, maybe your kids are a little older. 

Maybe they sleep through the night right now, or maybe they just wake you up occasionally or sometimes, right? Maybe you’re getting a little bit better. Your kids are a little older and you are getting some sleep and you are getting to eat meals. They might not be hot, but you’re getting them right.

You’re getting to eat some meals. You’re starting to move your feeling, but you still feel overwhelmed. Then that’s when I would start to ask some more questions, right? Because now. I am taking care of my actual physical needs. But I still feel overwhelmed now, something I might need to take some actions.

I might need to ask myself some additional questions, right? Right. And so what would be some symptoms that people would look for? What would you say? So my biggest, well, I have two, two of my biggest personal ones are, first, I don’t like the things I normally like. 

So for example, if I love going on dates with my spouse, but I’m totally dreading every time we have to go out because it just feels like too much, or I love happy hour with my friend, or I love getting to read, or I love book club, or I love, right, any of the things that you have been Infused into your life to bring it joy. 

If you are dreading the things that normally bring you joy, that’s symptom number one, right? If I don’t want to do the things I always loved, I know that something is wrong. My other one for me personally is I lose all creativity. So all of my creativity and I find myself to be a really good problem solver, right?

If something happens, I could think of a bunch of solutions and I can get creative with them and I can start making, taking action. If all of that sort of feels like dead space in my brain. I know that I am overwhelmed. I know that it’s too much. Something is wrong and I’ve got to take a step back and start to pause and ask myself those questions. 

So those are two things for me, but I mentioned before, and this is where a lot of us can feel it very first is the feelings in your body, those sensations in your body that feel like pressure or feel like stress or feel like nausea or tension or whatever you want to call it. Because everyone’s body is different, right? We all have those different feelings inside. When you start to feel that, then you know that it’s not just the normal, Oh, I’m tired because I did get woken up a bunch of times last night. I’m actually on a path where this could get really bad.  I can really resonate with what you said, because for me personally, I notice whenever I like to cook mostly all things, but I really like to bake and I like to just make breads and cookies and all those kinds of things. 

And I can always tell when I’m doing well, it’s because I want to bake.  And then when I have absolutely no interest in doing that sort of thing, I know something’s up. Inside me that maybe I haven’t identified yet. That’s it. Yes. It’s just those little things. And when we start to learn about ourselves, right, we start to understand ourselves, then we’ll start to see that we’ll start to recognize it. 

And then the whole goal here is to recognize it early so that we can take action before we are crying on the bathroom floor. Right. Or throwing keys at our spouse and walking out the door and saying, I need time, right? Yeah. So being able to really identify that early. So you don’t get to the spot that you don’t want to be.

Right. Yeah, that’s good.  I think that with parenting, especially with a little bitty parenting, like 0 to 3 years, how we’re what we’re talking to here. You may have never felt this thing before. And so I’m kind of thick in my head. Sometimes it takes me a little while to identify. What it is that I’m feeling or experiencing, I think I just kind of get numbed out and, and don’t pay attention, but I remember, you know, uh, about a year and a half ago, I was walking and, and I just thought, I think what I’m feeling is anxiety.  

I hadn’t really felt it before, but I thought, I think that this, this is not, it’s beyond worry. It’s beyond. Feelings of depression or whatever, but it was something in my being that just wasn’t right. And I really hadn’t felt it before and it was anxiety and I had to figure it out. You know,  it was because I was taking some gummies to help me sleep and that was a side effect.

Good grief. You know, that can be a new feeling for some of us, right? Some of us didn’t have that before. Some of us felt like, you know, we were on our own. We didn’t have any other responsibilities. And so maybe we were never in a position where. We had so much stress, pressure, et cetera, right? That caused this extra plus, of course, then we have all the hormonal changes and all those other things that could mean that maybe you even need more professional help because there’s something really going on.

But even with just a baseline level of overwhelm, some of us have never felt that type of overwhelm before, right? Most of us have not previously been in charge of like the life of a human and that just takes it to the next level. Okay. Thank you.  That’s true.  And I think that our anticipation is that it will be so wonderful, especially if you have anticipated this child.

And most of us. Do you know, we look forward to being a parent  and then you’re like, oh, this is surprising. I didn’t expect to feel this way about it.  I think there’s some, there’s the, we didn’t expect to feel this way in the good, right? Like I had my second child and my entire pregnancy, I kept thinking, but how will I love this one as much as I love the first, because the first blew my mind. 

And then that second baby comes out and you’re like, I have two hearts. This is amazing, right? Like you love them both so much. You can’t even imagine how like amazing you could feel. And then I have to flip that, right? Because I also never imagined how frustrated, irritated, anxious and overwhelmed I could feel on the flip side  being in charge of human life.

Yeah,  that’s good. You know, as we talk about this, finding balance in this chaos, what would be some strategies, some go to’s for folks who are listening, who are beginning to feel this way,  just some practical ideas. Yeah. Yeah. If you are walking into a situation and you feel like, oh my goodness, this is just so overwhelming for me.

My first step is just pause. I need you to just pause and take a really deep breath and blow that out. So I want especially parents of littles to hear this. Almost nothing is urgent for now. If child is going to touch a hot burner urgent yes, but almost everything else is not urgent for now.

And if you’re feeling that level of overwhelm. Take a minute. Take a one minute. Take 10 minutes. Take 20 minutes. Take as long as you need to be able to bring that down. And then that’s once I’m past that, because if you’re there, you are already in that feeling of fight or flight. Your brain’s not thinking and making good decisions, right? 

So you getting to a more calm state is number one goal. That’s what goal one, pause, get to a calm state. Nothing else matters right now. Then you get to decide, did I have this reaction because I’m not taking care of myself, i. e. not doing my energy management. And I, in our group, we have four parts of energy management.

That is, you are moving, you are sleeping, you are eating food that makes your body feel good, and you are connecting with humans that you like in your life. So, if you have those things, then you’re taking care of your energy management. If you were shaking your head for every single one of those, then that’s first step, right?

Those are the things we address first. I don’t want you to go start a journaling practice. If you’re not even getting healthy food in your body when you are moving around all day, taking care of people. Right? If you’re not getting enough sleep, that’s key number one, not to go start a gratitude journal. 

So we pause first. We then ask, am I getting things that I need for energy management? And then we get to take action, then we get to start to decide, how am I going to approach this? How am I going to make sure I can get some healthy food? Right? Who do I need to have, get some help from? What meal group can I hire for the next couple of weeks? 

Whatever it is, you get to then decide how to get those things into place so that you can feel as good as you can possibly feel. Because, wow, do we have to take so much better care of ourselves in order to show up in. Parenthood than we did before we could show up, right? You could show up in a whole lot of ways back in the day, right?

You might’ve stayed out till three in the morning and you’re up at six and you brush your dirty hair and you went to work and you were just fine. That just doesn’t work, right? You will not feel good in that way. So taking care of yourself, doing all the things, and then you get to see that you get to reap the benefits of that, right? By being able to take those actions.

And I think it’s worth mentioning that so many of the things that we think of in getting help involve money, right? And for me, that just wasn’t an option. We didn’t have money for me to get help with cleaning or any of those kinds of things.

And so I do think that there’s some really creative ways to make that happen. Do you have any ideas about that? So sometimes it’s about just getting started. So you have a friend that also hates cleaning her house or his house, and y’all can get on the phone together and say, okay, here we go. 

We’re cleaning together, right? And you can do that at the same time. You can make things that you need to do happier by adding a podcast, adding an audio book, adding some really loud, amazing music you can dance to, right? We can make things a little more fun. We can do trades with people. People like our neighbors. 

It is far easier for you to make double of a dish you’re already making than it is for you to make a brand new meal every single night. But maybe your family doesn’t like to eat things two nights in a row. Well, neighbor number one could make a meal and neighbor number two could make a meal and you could make a meal and you could split it into three and you all trade. 

And now you each spent. time making one dinner, and you got three. And that’s free, right? Because you each are contributing to each other’s household.

So I think there are lots and lots of ways to do this in a community way that doesn’t require actual funds to do it. I also, absolutely think there are set points. 

So you might love to have a spick and span house that doesn’t have a speck of dust anywhere in any room in any closet in any deep back of a drawer, but what’s the real set point there? Because sometimes the things that are on our list, the things that we’re working on are things that. Our best case when really we might be able to for the next couple of months when we have a newborn, just stick with the set point, right?

Stick with the basic things that are necessary to have a healthy house, not the best house I could ever imagine having. And by giving ourself a little bit of grace, we get to give ourself a little bit of time back and a little less overwhelmed.  It’s great. You know, there’s just not a really a reason in the world to fold  newborn clothes. 

Right?  Throw them in, toss them into a drawer, toss them into a basket. I mean, any, any of those things are good options, right? There are other people that probably want to help you as they sit and chat with you. I’m sure they would  be happy to fold towels while you nurture baby, right? And these are things that we can ask for help for.

And we think, oh, but how dare I do that? And you have to remember if you went to someone’s house and they had a newborn and they said, come talk to me and fold my towels and sit on my couch, you would be like, of course I would do that for you. I love you. I would love to come talk to you and fold your towels.

And so remember that people want to do this. They just don’t always know how to help you. So let them help you. 

You know, one of my best friends, when we were raising our babies, folding laundry was the thing that we would do. You know, we would just have a mountain of it when the other came over to the house and we just sit and fold and it was fine.

The kids played. It was just so much more pleasant, you know? Yes, because it’s just there. I mean, there are things that are just yeah. Painful, right there at what I call energy bleeds. They just suck all of your energy away. So doing laundry by myself in my room is probably going to be an energy bleed for me, but if I get to do it with my best friend and chat the whole time, well, maybe I even turned it into an energy, energy boost. 

And now I’m all excited. Yeah, I love you’ve ticked off two things. That’s it. Yeah.

And I also think a really important one to, to consider if you’re listening to this and you have little ones is swapping  babysitting, you know, watching each other’s kids and figuring out a system for that, just so that you can get away and, and be kidless for a couple of hours a week. 

And that’s, again, free, right? You could hire a babysitter if you have the financial means. Awesome. Please do that. But you trading with a neighbor, I know plenty of moms that trade all the time so that everybody gets their alone time. And then the kids come over and play with the other kids and it’s great. And no one feels put out and everyone feels like they win. 

And the icing on the cake for that idea is that we don’t invite kids over to play in our house that much anymore. I think COVID just kind of crossed that one off the list. And there is a real skill set that happens when another child comes in your room and plays with your stuff, and you have to manage this emotion of it and the whole social stuff of it.

And so I think it’s a really beautiful way to allow your child  to understand how to play with other kids and how to go to their house and play with them. And there’s just there’s so many great things that happen with that. So many skill sets, right? The sharing, the negotiating, clean up the right, the communication, all of those things.

Yeah, and even understanding how another grown up manages their house and their rules and all of those things that are really good for a child cognitively to figure out.

This is really great information. I hope that people will are getting some new and fresh ideas. 

So as we  wrap this up, I just wonder if you have a word of encouragement that you haven’t already said for those who might be listening who are just in the thick of it.

Yeah. I think we so often tie our worth to all the things that we get done. You know, we want to keep the baby alive and the toddler happy but we also want to get the house perfect and we want to make all the meals.

And we also want to do the side hustle and work the job. And right. We want to do all of these things. And we think if I do all of that, then I am worthy and amazing. And if I don’t, if I have a day where I still am in a top knot and I still am in the same clothes I was wearing, or I didn’t do a lick of laundry, thennI am not worthy, right? And I think if we could just let go of all of that, if we could know that both days you are an amazing mom and totally worthy of all the good things that come with that, then, you know, if we could make every woman feel that way We would be on the top of the world and then the truth.

Thank you so much. That is just really encouraging. So how can people find you? Yes.  Secrets of Super Mom is the best place to go. That is where you will find the book and the podcast and all of my socials. And I think when this comes out, we’ll just about be to our Super Mom Summit. And so you can join there.

Okay. Thank you so much, Lori, for joining me on the podcast.