5 Tips for Overwhelmed Military Spouses

Overwhelmed military spouse mom sitting on floor surrounded by toys

Ask any military spouse you meet if she’s ever felt overwhelmed and you’ll most likely be met with a resounding ‘yes’ (likely yelled loudly with coffee-fuelled enthusiasm). As overwhelmed military spouses, we need to know that we are not alone. Overwhelm a common problem for women today – especially military spouse moms and active duty moms – and there are ways to make it better!

Overwhelm sneaks up on you when you least expect it and sometimes military spouses don’t even realize they’re feeling overwhelmed until they’re at the point of burnout. It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in the responsibilities of balancing motherhood (oftentimes solo) and all that goes with it, but there are some easy things you can do to stay afloat. 

Here are some helpful and practical tips for you, the overwhelmed military spouse, that you can start doing today to help you overcome that overwhelm without adding to your hefty to do list!

#1 Get Outside To Get Some Fresh Air

Overwhelmed military spouses deserve a break and sometimes that break can be as simple as getting outside and breathing in the fresh air. 

Overwhelming moments call for action; they don’t last forever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to get outside and take advantage of nature’s refreshing effects: fresh air, sunshine and beautiful sights will help us regain perspective on our lives. If you have little kids, loading them into a stroller and going for a walk may be just what you all need!

Plus, getting outside and adding in a walk is good for your health!

Vitamin D is essential to our health and can be synthesized in the body when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light. Getting just 10 minutes of sun on your skin each day can be enough to boost your Vitamin D levels. 

Studies have shown a link between Vitamin D deficiency with depression and anxiety and maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D can help alleviate these symptoms, including overwhelm. Note: If you find yourself at a duty station where sun is hard to find during portions of the year, this sun lamp is a worthwhile buy!

Step outside, take a deep breath, face the sun, relax your jaw and shoulders, and just breathe.

(Even a walk in the rain can help when you need a change of scenery to help lift that overwhelmed feeling!)

#2 Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep

We all know that sleep is important, and we know that military spouses suffer greatly when it comes to getting enough sleep, which is why you need to make sleep a priority and make sure you’re getting enough.  

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and this should also apply to military spouses.

If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep at night, try making sure that your bedroom is sleep-ready and free from excess noise which could possibly prevent you from falling asleep earlier than usual.

It may seem like a difficult task, but if you can find a way to fall asleep earlier it will help tremendously. That might mean turning off Netflix sooner, and getting a few earlier nights each week.

If you are a military spouse who is the mom of little ones, people love to tell you to “sleep when the baby sleeps” which does work for some moms, but for others, it’s not quite so easy.

This is why you need to do what works for you!

Guilt-free naps during the day might be your go-to (I’m definitely on Team Afternoon Nap!), whereas earlier nights might be better for others. You may even need to delegate night duties to your spouse so you can sleep through the night yourself. Or if your spouse is deployed or away for training exercises, consider hiring a babysitter to watch your little ones while you take a nap! 

Do the best you can with the stage you’re at and know that if you’re struggling with a challenging sleep stage with your kids, it will pass.

#3 Look After Yourself First

Military spouse moms often believe that their only priority is looking after their kids, when really, they need to look after themselves first to be able to care for your children. This is because if you’re run down and have nothing left to give, then your kids won’t be receiving the best they can from you.

Remember to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, keeping hydrated and getting enough sleep. Over time, you’ll find ways to balance your life to incorporate all the things you want to do. Along the way to balance, some days will feel more successful than others, and that’s ok. 

Make sure you’re doing something each day to fill your energy cup, whether it’s drinking coffee while it’s still hot, going for a walk by yourself, eating your favorite healthy meal or taking a long shower or bath before bed. Keep it simple and you’ll actually make it happen!

You have to make sure all of your basic needs are being met otherwise you’ll end up burnt out and the overwhelm will become even more unbearable. You are valuable!

#4 Stop Overanalyzing – Do What Feels Right

When you’re a military spouse mom, you often have to make an overwhelming number of decisions on your own that impact your family. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s going to be difficult to feel like you’re doing anything right. Overthinking and overanalyzing every movement that you make will only add more stress to an already stressful situation.

You’ll never know 100% if you’re doing something right, and trying to figure it out will only make the overwhelm grow.

If you feel like it’s too much, then maybe it is. If you feel like your kids need more attention than what you’re giving them, then make adjustments accordingly. Maybe that means housework isn’t done or needs to be outsourced. (I’ve found some amazing military spouses who clean houses so much better than I do. I’m happy to outsource a monthly clean!) Maybe it looks like ordering pizza instead of cooking dinner. Adjustments look different for everyone, so do what is best for you and your family’s needs, but don’t waste your precious time over analyzing the overwhelm.  Overanalyzing everything can stress a military spouse out to such an extent that life can feel pretty unbearable.

The best way to not get too caught up overthinking things is to try to do what feels right instead. If you’re exhausted, take a nap. If you have way too much stuff going on, lighten your load so you stop feeling overwhelmed by it all. Over time you’ll start making wiser decisions about how to manage your life.

#5 Ask For Help

Overwhelmed military spouses are often afraid to ask for help, feeling like they have to do it all themselves or they’re not a good mom. We’ve heard time and time again that ‘it takes a village’ to raise kids, so now might be the time to seek out that village.

Overwhelming situations can be handled in a variety of ways. Overwhelm is not something you should feel ashamed about or apologize for – it happens to everyone, and once you’ve been through it, you’re often more than willing to help out others who are in this situation too.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by military spouse life and motherhood, try these tips:

Ask your spouse or partner for assistance, but be specific in what you need. Getting detailed about the help you need can be a great way to ensure what you need to get done, gets done.

Rather simply ask for help around the house, write a list of jobs that need to be done, and delegate a portion to your spouse. 

If your spouse is away, prioritize what can be done and consider what can be outsourced. Grocery pick up at the commissary or Walmart grocery is easier than toting children to the store. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try hiring another military spouse as a house cleaner to help lighten the load. 

Hire a babysitter so you can have time to do what you need to do (including time for yourself). It can be a one-time thing to help you get on top of tasks or take a break, or you can make it a regular part of your schedule. When I’ve feeling overwhelmed, one of the first things I often do is ask other military spouses for baby sitter recommendations.

Create a routine chart with your kids so they know exactly what is expected of them and when. This can help kids to be more self-led in getting ready or after-school activities, rather than coming to mom for every little thing.

Set aside one day each week where all tasks are delegated out to other members of the family. This is great for a weekend clean-up of the house and encouraging all family members to pitch in.

It also helps teach responsibility and might even encourage (older) kids to be a little more mindful of their impact on the household.

Enlist the help of support groups or friends to assist with cooking meals, doing laundry, and cleaning the house.

Most people are more than willing to help a military spouse feeling who is feeling overwhelmed, but often they don’t know how. This is where being specific with the help you need can be beneficial.

You could even create a system with a group of friends where you take turns cooking meals for each other. One night each week you could cook a much larger batch of dinner and freeze it, then do a frozen meal exchange.

Remember, you are not alone!

Overwhelmed military spouses often feel like there’s no way through and that everything falls onto their shoulders. Feeling this way is not uncommon. You aren’t alone! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life or motherhood, try some of the tips above and see if they can help. And don’t be afraid to reach out to the resources available to you like Military One Source. You can do this!

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