The Downward Spiral: An Exhausted Mom’s Confession

I blogged Thursday about meeting everyone’s needs when you have a breastfeeding baby and older children. But what about meeting our needs? The moms?

I’m making a confession. I am struggling. I’m not sure what to call it yet, but I am exhausted. I am mentally and emotionally spent. I am on a downward spiral, getting close to the guilt-ridden ‘D’ word – depression.

It’s hard to admit.

I want the world to think I have it all together. I want to be one of those moms. The ones that execute beautiful homeschool lesson plans every day, grow their own food, bake meals from scratch, keep the house spotless, have obedient, happy children, and manage to look gorgeous while doing it.

The reality is that I am currently struggling with our homeschooling direction. The thought of even simple lesson planning makes me tear up and my throat feel tight with anxiety.

I don’t want to admit on Twitter what kind of food I often feed my kids.

My house is in such disorder I want to scream most days, and if anyone is going to stop by it throws me into a panic.

My children seem to ignore every word I say.

I’m doing good if I get a shower, much less look presentable.

The reality is that I have had more than one breakdown this month. I feel like I am drowning, and I don’t know how to come up for air.

I’ve been in similar places before, and I know from experience it’s hard to take even one step towards improvement. I tend to just shut down. I am going to fail at everything anyway, so why bother.

But I know that not moving will just lead me further into this downward spiral I’m currently on, so I’m going to try to do something. I’m trying to keep my goals simple:


I’ve been honest with a few of my close friends, and now with you in this post. Just putting it out there and admitting where I am is a start.


When I get in this spiral, I tend to pull back emotionally from everyone, even those I love the most, like my children. I want to make the choice to say yes to them whenever possible. To smile at them. To look in their eyes and remember who they are and how much I love them.


I’m going to try implementing a written schedule for myself. I’m hoping that having things on paper will help me to actually do them, but I’m not sure. I do know that what I’m doing now isn’t working.


I need to remember to eat, both physically and spiritually. It’s very easy for me to get busy fixing the kids’ breakfasts, then worry about getting ready for our day, and not take the time to feed myself. Then I feel awful by lunch time, but I am normally the last one to eat then too because I am again trying to get everyone else fed. So I’m going to commit to eating breakfast each morning, whether I feel like it or think I have the time or not.

I need spiritual food even more than I need physical food, and sadly that is something I am guilty of pushing even further down on my priority list. I’m going to try to spend time in the Word every day, even if it’s just a verse or two.


I hope that if I can make the steps above I can slow down the spiral. What do you do when you are feeling burned out and at the end of your rope? How do you take care of your own mental health while taking care of the needs of your family?


About Melissa

Melissa is a homeschooling mom to five children, ages 9, 7, 4, 2, and one brand new munchkin!. She loves blogging about her journey as a cloth diapering and breastfeeding mom - the good, the bad, and the chaotic, and helping other moms along the way.

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  • Elaine

    I think you summed it up, it’s hard to feed ourselves spiritually when trying to be the world’s best mom. I hate to admit when I need help, I hate to admit when something doesn’t come easy. My daughter isn’t always the best behaved child, we have some issues, I worry everyday that I’ll screw her up. I love b/f my son but I am tired of being a feedbag every two hours of the day every day! I force myself to do things for me because I know I need to be strong and healthy for them. But then I feel guilty for leaving them. Saturday I went to a halloween party and left them with hubby. My 5 month old cried for two hours and my 6 year old wouldn’t listen to Daddy. I walked home from the party early crying because I shouldn’t have left them. If you figure out how we can have the best of both please share!

  • BeingMama

    Oh, big hugs, mama! No one does it all. I try to cook healthy meals but we get take out probably twice a week. My house is a mess. I don’t homeschool. I sometimes go ignored. I do try to focus on talking with them, listening to them and on telling my kids once a day how incredibly happy I am to be their mama, that they mean the world to me and I give them good, long hugs. It helps me to stop and remember this as well and not feel that I’m drowning or that I’m incompetent as a mother as I sometimes feel. It’s an overwhelming job that we have. I also try to remind myself that it starts with my health and my husband’s health, and with our relationship. That it can’t ALL go to the kids or they won’t have much in the way of parents. So I do eat breakfast every day (a yogurt) even if I have to keep the baby in the highchair a few more minutes longer to do it. Hang in there! You’re doing great!

  • Rachel

    You are most definitely not alone. In fact, the reason I am reading this is because when I saw the first few sentences in the email newsletter I thought – thank God I’m not alone.
    This afternoon I confessed to my husband that (for the millionth time this year it seems) I’m incredibly overwhelmed and need help. I work full time, have one toddler and a few volunteer-type activities I do and right now my performance at work is suffering badly with all of my outside commitments. My issue is that I don’t CARE about work as much as other things, so its often one of the first things to suffer. I too, made a plan and am not hopeful yet, but a plan is better than nothing!
    I hope you can make some progress but there isn’t anything wrong with feeling the way you do, except the fact that no one wants you to feel that way! Your family and friends don’t want you to be overwhelmed! Maybe you can find some ways to get some help on the day-to-day. Maybe barter with a friend to help you with housework, meals or childcare? Anything that might relieve a little stress to help you focus on what you need to.
    I don’t know if this helps, but know I’m rooting for you! I’ll say a few prayers as well.

  • Tim

    Melissa, you are definitely not alone! Well, of course not, since God is with you, but I mean not alone in the company of about a jillion other parents too. You said “I want the world to think I have it all together. I want to be one of those moms.” You know what? Even “those moms” aren’t really “those moms.” It’s like the airbrushing that goes into hiding models’ flaws so they look perfect when they are blown up to about 20 times normal size on billboards. No family can withstand the scrutiny you are placing yourself under. And keep in mind that God is scrutinizing you even more closely than you are, and yet he thinks you’re wonderful!

    As for coping mechanisms, that plan thing sounds good. One added benefit of writing out a list is the checking off part. Seriously, there is something cathartic about making that check mark next to a completed item on the list. Here’s a tip. Make the first thing on the list something easy that you can do immediately. Then after you do it, check it off with a flourish! I bet it feels good.

    And don’t worry about how the house looks or if the kids get a bath every night. As Erma Bombeck said, there’s nothing wrong with putting your kids to bed with dirty feet once in a while.


  • emilie

    thank you for sharing. it feels good to know that you’re/I’m not alone.
    I have been here before. I almost cried reading this, thinking back to how terrible it has felt at times. We make it through the rough patch and sometimes get there again. having support/being able to share is wonderful
    this is what I did/am doing:
    ask for help if you have someone that can help… honestly I really dislike asking for help, or admitting I can’t do it all, but I swallowed my pride (my husband surprisingly took on the kitchen cleaning, every day he comes home washes the dishes, sweeps and cleans, it had made such a big difference for me)
    For the rest I split up chores by the day as one or 2 rooms per day (plus the things that need done every day i.e. dishes, laundry) I typed it up and hung it on the cork board in the kitchen. I try to stick to it, the room(s) for the day get available cleaning time I have that day. In the rooms with more catching up/organization needed, I just do what I can each time I’m in there and it does not all have to get done at once/in one week. when I finish the room, I’m done cleaning.. that is it, the other rooms have to wait for their day. it helped me to stop feeling overwhelmed. I am starting to get all the messes organized and daily cleaning is taking less time each week.
    I try to do something for me everyday, even if it is small like sitting down and enjoying a cup of tea
    show as much affection to the kids as you can, I notice the more I give to my sons the more they give to me and sometimes a loving hug, kiss, gesture from them really lifts my spirits
    just be the best that you can every day, don’t expect more from yourself than you can give. I struggle with having a too high standard of how things should be, but I try to reflect on the day if I have given as much as I can for the day.. if I did, great… if not, I will try harder tomorrow
    good luck. hugs, love, strength be with you. keep us updated on your progress =)

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  • Megan

    Thanks for sharing your struggle. I read it because I am also feeling some nasty depression, but I have no kids yet, so I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it can be when you have people you need to take care of. I can’t even take care of myself I feel. Hugs, and love. I will keep you in my prayers. I always look forward to reading your blog :)