4 Ways to Stop Struggling With Life During a Slower Phase

Sometimes, being a mom—especially a professional mom—can make you feel like you’re struggling with life a bit. Last week, my youngest needed to go to the pediatrician. My husband offered to take her, but I just had that urge to go to make sure she was okay. So, I went — by choice — and yet, I still mourned the time I had to give up for work.  

Being in a slower phase of life can be frustrating — and confusing. If you’re voluntarily caring for a parent, a newborn, or young kids, you might be in one of those phases where the pace of the rest of your life slows. 

On one hand, you may have decided to assume the role of being more available to your loved one(s) because you want to be. On the other hand, despite this desire, you still struggle to accept the accompanying loss of time you can devote to your career, yourself, your partner, and/or a hobby. There’s an element of FOMO on what could be if you didn’t have these responsibilities. Yet, you wouldn’t necessarily change it — you wouldn’t give up the time with your children or parents. Those things are positive.

These conflicting feelings create confusion and frustration. So, how do we manage the frustration so that we can enjoy what this phase of life has to offer instead of resenting it?

To stop struggling with life, recognize it really is just a phase

Daily Mom Parent Portal Struggling With Life
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This point might be obvious, but I need to remind myself of it constantly because I sometimes get lost living in the weeds and subconsciously panic that this is now my life — forever. I’ll decline a speaking engagement because of kid obligations and panic-think, “I’ll never grow this business like I want to!”

So, while it’s obvious, it’s worth stating: This period of struggling with life is a phase. It will not be forever. Struggling with life in this way won’t last forever. Now take this a step further and ask yourself: how long do I anticipate this phase lasting? Six months? Two years? Four? While some phases are certainly long, it’s still helpful to remind our panicking brains that this phase has a limited timeline and will, one day, be over.

This helps in two ways. First, it’s fun to plan when you’ll do those things you’re dreaming about and have to say no to for now. Maybe you can pencil in the dates you’ll go to Lisbon in three years once traveling with kids isn’t so hard. Maybe you can plan on applying to speak at that conference in the Caribbean in two years — including looking up the current date of applications and calendaring when you should look into it in 1.5 years.

Doing things like this helps us see in a practical way that, while we might not be signing up for those types of things now (at least at the frequency we want), we will again one day. It shifts the “no” into a more concrete “later.” That can help give you some hope and put things into perspective.

Second, giving ourselves more concrete insight into when this current phase of struggling with life will end helps us truly absorb the fact that it will end — and, therefore, gives us the power to appreciate the beautiful parts of this phase right now. Whether you’re caring for a parent or child(ren), you can soak in the good parts of those experiences more because your brain understands in a practical way that those experiences are limited. 

Getting realistic about what this phase requires  

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While being realistic about how limited your time is now can be frustrating, it also will empower you to make decisions about how you will spend your limited time more intentionally. This will help you spend more of your limited time doing what you truly want (versus struggling with life cramming in too many things that you’re actually not all that excited about), which also helps you go to bed feeling accomplished – not defeated by an inability to do an unrealistic amount of work. This is way better for your mental health.

In terms of how to get realistic, I’m a big fan of using a calendar. Calendars help you plot out not just your meetings but also your invisible to-do’s (like when you are bathing your child or preparing medication for your ailing parent) and your tasks (like calling doctors, packing up bags, and driving to doctor appointments). Making all of the things that normally just live in our heads visible helps you see what you realistically have time left to do and recognize how much you are actually doing.

This approach can be frustrating because you will have to confront the limited nature of your time, but you can then be far more intentional and realistic when deciding what else to take on — from your career to your hobbies. Plus, it will help you realize how much you actually ARE doing.

Build in more breathing space to stop struggling with life

Daily Mom Parent Portal Struggling With Life

Seeing how limited your time is can show you far more objectively and clearly when you really do need more help. Whether that’s in the form of more childcare or a meal delivery kit to help cut down meal prep time and shopping, consider getting that help to give you more breathing space. Again, this does not mean you need to invest in these services forever — you just might want to during this phase to cut down on struggling with life.

Relax: Struggling with life right now is just a phase.

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If you’ve been someone who go-go-goes, it can be jarring to slow down to the pace of your day to day hum-drum caregiving responsibilities. While we can’t always make it feel easy or natural, we can set ourselves up not to feel constantly defeated and resentful for not getting more done during this phase of life.

Recognize it’s a phase, plan realistically for this struggling with life phase, dream about what you’ll do when the phase is over (including using your calendar to loosely plan it out), appreciate how much you are doing (even when it looks different from before), and try to soak in what this phase has to offer. While it’s a hard phase, it’s still only months or yes, maybe years of your life — let’s enjoy it as best we can instead of struggling with life. Maybe you’ll look back and think of it fondly.

WANT TO READ MORE?
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4 Ways To Stop Struggling With Life During A Slower Phase
Photo Credits: Nattanan Kanchanaprat | NeShea Jenifer | Alfonso Cerezo | fancycrave1

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Kelly Nolan
Kelly Nolan
I’m Kelly Nolan, an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mom. Using realistic time management strategies, I help modern working women (especially moms) manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity.

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