Feeling Stressed & Overwhelmed as a Mom of a Big Family

Updated on January 26, 2011
L.C. asks from University Place, WA
24 answers

Hi there. I am writing in great need to some support and encouragement in my role as a mom. I have been finding myself lately in a place emotionally that I have never been in. I am usually an upbeat and energetic person. However, lately I have found myself struggling greatly with feeling very overwhelmed, angry, stressed, and sad. I feel a bit trapped by my circumstances and know that I need to do something different in order to keep things together for my family and myself. I am just not sure even what I need. I feel like there is no relief in my role as a mom and wife. I am a stay at home mom. I have step a 17 year old step daughter (who lives with us full time), I have a 5, 4, and 19 month old and am 6 months pregnant with another one! I am trying to home school my 5 year old although I don't do much with him because it is all that I can do just to keep up with life. We just moved into a bigger place which is good, but I am surrounded by boxes and not time or energy to empty them. I am getting little sleep. My youngest son wakes up between 5:30 and 6 every morning. I am absolutely exhausted by 8:30 and ready for bed. This leaves no time for time with my husband or time for myself. I am also always up at least one time during the middle of the night with one of the kids. My husband does help when he is home in the evenings, but it doesn't feel like enough of a break. Every morning I am waking up struggling with feeling so angry at all the demands put on me in my roll as mom. I then find myself crying at random times during the day. I feel my joy has been sucked out. I really love my kids, husband, and have always enjoyed being a mom. However lately I have been resenting my job. I can see how the anger in my heart and impatience is effecting my family. I know that something needs to change, but I feel I have lost myself so much in my roll as mom that I don't know what I need for myself. Does anyone feel this some way? What has helped you? I am a Christian, but am just struggling in staying strong. Thank you so for "listening." I do feel a bit better just getting this all out=).

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answers from Eugene on

Oh my, you are MAKING A BABY and right there, your body is working full-time, using energy, changing and needing extra rest. You need rest! Even God took time off after 6 days of work but I bet you are not getting any real break. This is not an option so get together with DH and figure out a way to get some major recharge time at least once a week.

Here are some things you can try:

Pay the 17 year old to babysit so you can get out of the house. Even tho she is part of the family, giving her some money tells her that you value her time and are not just taking advantage her. I'm the oldest of 6 kids and it can be a thankless position!

Have DH commit to waking up at 5:30 for your youngest so you can have an extra hour or two of sleep. DH is getting up anyway for work ,right?... so can he work your son into his morning routine?

DH can wake up in the middle of the night on weekends when he doesn't have to work. That gives you 2 nights a week without those interruptions.

Let the homeschooling go. I homeschooled 4 kids and can tell you there's plenty of time to catch up. 5 years olds just need to learn the alphabet, numbers to 100 and their colors. If you don't get to that this year, you can cover it next year.

Get together with another mom-of-many to talk and share. Sometimes it helps just to know we are not alone. Take time to develop those relationships now, even tho it's hard to make time.

In a quiet moment, share honestly with DH about how you need some relief now. It's great that he is willing to help. And it is in his best interest to make sure you don't burn out now. He and your children need to have you around and in your right mind for a long time so make the changes you need to find your stride.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on


You need more hands to help with the number of members in your household.

Your husband and 17 year old could unpack the boxes and do the household chores.

You could consider enrolling your 5 and 4 year olds in pre-school 1/2 time or full time

You are pregnant so of course you have no energy to do what you normally do. Don't be so hard on yourself.

When baby is born, focus on the 19mo old and the baby. That alone is enough work for a mom.

Schedule time for the 5 & 4yr old to be in some activity while you rest.

All the best! I hope your situation changes, and as a christian, pray for strength!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Was this going on before you became pregnant? Could it be the pregnancy hormones? You have a very difficult job and in clear need of a real break. Can you ask a friend or family member come for a few hours so you can recharge? And then make it a routine? You are gonna have another baby in 3 months you need to take care of yourself, whether that be going out, or sitting in a tub it's needed. Happily your husband is helpful, does he know how you truly feels or just gets the brunt of your anger? Let him in on what's really going on for you and ask him for some help. Remember you can only be good for your family if you take care of yourself.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you just to many things on your plate. First off your 17, 5, and 4 year old can help out more around the house then you may thing and even with packing. Just with a small chore chart. Can you see about enrolling your 5 year old in school? It is to late for this school year I bet but look into it for next year. Public school is a good thing, even though so many others thing bad things. You also need to schedule some you time. I call this Mommy Time. You work full time just like your hubby, see about getting out on the weekend for just a few hours by yourself. This will help recharge your batteries.
I'm sorry your struggling right now, but remember this to shall pass.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I am wondering if you could have pregnancy-induced depression. (Like Post-partum depression, but while you are pregnant.) Your feelings sound just exactly how I felt when I was pregnant with baby #2 - thank goodness my doctor noticed and spoke with me about it. He put me on an anti-depressant (which he assured me has been extensively studied for use with pregnant and nursing women, with no ill effects). WOW, what a difference I felt almost immediately. Within a week I felt like my old self again and was able to enjoy being a mom and wife again. You have several other great answers as well, but I thought I would throw it out there in case you had not considered whether this may be depression. Pregnancy hormones can definitely cause your brain to react differently.

You are doing a great job, mama, and I wish you the very best!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Oh hon, be kind to yourself. You sound clinically depressed. Moving is a major life stressor, and so is pregnancy. Please talk to your doctor. And be on the lookout for post-partum depression--it often starts before delivery, and you are fitting the profile to a t. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say perhaps it's time to close up the baby-making shop after this one is out. It's time to get YOUR life back.

Hoping things improve soon!


answers from Medford on

I don't have any pat answers (they don't help anyway, do they!) but I just want you to know that you're not alone! I totally understand this feeling. I have three kids 4 1/2, 2 1/2 and 8 months and there are definitely moments when I feel overwhelmed and burdened. I see lots of answers here telling you, basically, to give up. Put your kids in school, make sure you don't accept any more blessings (children), etc. I sometimes feel like throwing in the towel, too, but I just want to encourage you to remember that what you are doing is ETERNAL! You are raising eternal souls for the Kingdom of God. He gave these children to you and your husband and no one can raise or educate them better. There's a verse that comes to mind that I have to remind myself of frequently: "... do not grow weary in doing good." 2 Thess. 3:13. You are doing GOOD - don't grow weary in it! All that being said, do find ways to relax and enjoy your kids. Play games and read books - that's about all the home schooling you need to do right now. And institute "quiet time" for non-nappers that coincides with the baby's nap. Lastly, (and it shouldn't be last!) PRAY and read encouraging Scriptures. We have a CD called "Songs for Saplings" which has Scriptures set to music for kids and it's great! I have excellent verses going around in me head frequently and so do the kids. Hope that wasn't too long. God bless you, sister!! Keep up the good fight!


answers from Portland on

Set up a chore chart for your 17, 5, and 4 year olds. 4 and 5 yr olds can sort laundry and socks, set the table and help unload/load the dishwasher (my 3 yr old loves to help with the dishes). Sorting is a fantastic math skill. For loading and unloading dishes, the 4 yr old can hand them to the 5 yr old on a stool to put away. Organizing is another great skill. You can also get the kids to help with emptying the boxes. Get your hubby to carry the boxes to the respectful rooms and then have the little ones (and big one) help you put things away and have them help decide where things should go. Talking about this with them helps them learn language and reasoning skills (homeschooling at its best - when it happens naturally and isn't forced). If the kids can't reach to put it away, then you can put the higher stuff up.

With your 5 yr old, work on spelling and math as you unpack, too. Have him sound out and spell some simple things, like box, etc. and count objects.

This combines tasks, gets kids involved and gets the job done without extra work.

The 17 yr old can lead these activities, too. Or, just have her work on a box or 2 a day after school. She can also help with the dishes and other housework and have an allowance. Then she can have an afternoon off during the weekend to visit/shop with friends.


answers from Medford on

I didn't read all the other responses, but I thought I'd share what helped me. I only have two young children (2 and 4) but after the second was born, I felt like I didn't love my job as stay-at-home mom as much as I thought I would. I hadn't finished my degree, so my husband and I decided the answer for me was finishing school. I realized that I needed something just for me, and I couldn't be happier now. I'm still stressed, with the demands of school, motherhood, and housework, but I feel like at least part of that is about me, not everyone else. I commit to everything I do 100%, and am proud of what I'm accomplishing. My kids attend a wonderful preschool that is connected loosely with the University I attend, which makes it affordable. With your pregnancy, I don't know whether right now is the right time to make a drastic change, but it sounds like you need to do some soul searching and find something for YOU! I think there are moms who are happy being mom and wife, and moms who need a little something more. Maybe its a hobby you've always wanted to devote more time to, a volunteer opportunity, a career, etc.... I'm looking forward to a career as a teacher, and know that I will be a much better wife and mother with a stimulating outside life to round me out.

I wish you the best and hope you find whatever it is you need.



answers from Medford on

I have 3 boys, one just turned 5, one is 3.75 and one is 2 months. The older two do go to preschool during the day because I work full time, but I'm able to keep the baby with me.

You have lots of good answers here. I just have a couple of comments about the home schooling. A lot of the 'schooling' can be done while you are doing other things. Each week they focus on a letter at school, so while we are driving we will take turns thinking of words that start with that letter. Every time you see a stop sign ask them how to spell stop (or other signs you see regularly). Count laundry or dishes or carrot sticks or whatever you are working on around the house. They also do a calendar every day at school, and sing the days of the week song and months of the year song.

One great thing I did for myself was join a gym that has on-site daycare. I did this when I was a stay at home mom after my second was born. It guaranteed some time alone to myself (walking on the treadmill), got my endorphins going so I felt better mentally, helped me get in better shape, and maybe most importantly I got to shower, get dressed, put on a little makeup etc. ALONE at least a few days a week. Then when I picked the kids back up they were ready for lunch and a nap so I could get something done at home. They liked having the time to play with other kids too.

I don't have any magic answers, I think all moms feel overwhelmed and struggle with lack of time and sleep, I know I do. Just know that you are doing a great job and keep trying!


answers from Stockton on

It sounds like you are doing a great job! Hang in there. You are in the middle of a lot of stressful experiences right now. I bet if you took a stress test, your numbers would be off the charts!! Not to mention all the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy let alone back to back pregnancies. Does your step daughter help out around the house? Maybe she can pick up some chores. Also - there are probably some small chores that you can start having your 5 year old do. Like putting napkins on the table, and picking up the baby toys in the living room. Easy stuff like that.

Maybe your husband could watch the kids one saturday a month so that you could have an afternoon to yourself? Or maybe you can have a babysitter come over while you are there just to help out every once in a while and you could take a long bath? This could be a younger teen that you might not necessarily leave with all of your kids, but you would feel comfortable with them helping out while you are there. It gives them experience too and will benefit them in the future.

Hang in there girl, sounds like you are doing a great job!!



answers from Miami on

Hi L., You have received great answers, so I will only add: it takes a village to raise a child. Can your eldest help out more with babysitting the younger children and other household chores? What about your husband? Can you find a school mid year for your 4 and 5 year old? You need at least one hour a day just for you. Make it happen. Have your husband or step daughter step in during that hour and babysit and you go get out of the house and have a cup of coffee or chat with a friend or take a walk...etc.
You need to take care of you. your children need to see that it is OK to take care of yourself. A happy mom is a more effective mom.

Keep us posted. Jilly



answers from Portland on

I would enroll the 5 year old in school and then either get daycare 1 or two days a week for 4 ye old or preschool. If u c___an't afford daycare find a friend to watch ur kid 1 day a week and then u watch her kid one day a week.


answers from Modesto on

You are pregnant and sensitive. Talk to your loving husband, get the kids on board with chores, take an LOA from work if you need to. You have a full plate.


answers from St. Louis on

First of all I suggest putting your 5 year old in Kindergarten. If you do not feel like you can give him the adequate education he needs right now, then I suggest putting him in a public school. This will eliminate one headache for you (not that HE is a headache but schooling him may be for you right now). I also suggest trying to enlist your 17 year old stepdaughter to help out. Offer to pay for for X hours a week to play with the kids (maybe 2-3 afternoons a week for 2 hours). That way you can do WHATEVER you want (take a bath, nap, etc).

I also think that your husband needs to step up more and provide more assistance. You have your hands full and at night, he can take the kids after dinner or before dinner and play with them. I suggest if you have a group of family or friends, see if they can take 1 or 2 kids for a few hours during the week to give you a break and more time with your other children.

I think it's healthy for you to have YOU time. It can't be at night since you are so tired (understandable) and not in the mornings since you are up so early. Do your kids nap at the same time? probably not but if you put the 5 year old in school, I'd try to get the others down for a nap or rest time at the same time each afternoon. Then take 1 hour (or even 1/2 hour) and lay down and just relax. Rest, sleep, read, etc. Whatever you want!!!

Good luck!


answers from Eugene on

Give yourself a break. Does your 17 year old help with cooking and shopping? It would be great if she could cook two dinners per week. I had my children assigned dinner once they were 11 years old. Can you afford someone to come in and clean once a week? You have three children under five years of age. That is high stress alone. And you are pregnant which is also high stress.
Send the 5 and 4 year old to a morning school and get a few hours break. If you are exhausted at 8:30 and all the younger children are in bed tell your husband you need to lie down for an hour. Sleep and when you awake you can be with him as his friend and lover. Do this three nights a week and you will get your energy back.
You are doing a good job as a mother in your circumstances.



answers from Atlanta on

You need to sit down with your husband and schedule weekly time away for yourself. You can do whatever you want and can afford whether it's a spa visit, roaming around the library, heading out with friends or just going and vegging in a coffee shop. You need some time away and some time alone or away from your family! Let him know you're miserable and take care of yourself. No one else will!

Next, after you have this baby -if you have to have a c-section, get your tubes tied and if not, he needs to go in for a vasectomy when you're about 38 weeks. He will be just fine in a few days and should be "shooting blanks" by the time you're ready to resume sexual activity. That way, you won't have to worry about any more kids or getting pregnant again!

You have a lot on your plate with almost 4 small children. I know the 17 year old still has to be watched and looked after to some extent, but really you shouldn't have to do much more for her than keep an eye on her and talk to her. She should have household responsibilities that she needs to take care of on a weekly and daily basis.

And YES -ditch the homeschooling! You're already overburdened -get rid of everything you possibly can that is stressing you out and causing you problems. It will do you and the 4 and 5 year olds good for them to go to school -especially with a toddler and a new baby on the way!



answers from San Francisco on

Wow Mom! You are definitely a SUPER MOM! I can totally relate. I am a stay at home mom of 4 kids (13, 10, 2, and 7 months). I too, sometimes feel like I am resenting my job. I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with my own situation, but realized that I need a BETTER game plan. I'm working on it.

Have you tried talking to your husband about how you're feeling? Maybe he can add a couple more duties. What about your 17 year old? Would she be able to help you around the house more?~ unpack boxes, put some things away? Do you have a relative near by that could help you out for a couple of hours ..either with the kids OR at the house? I know that being pregnant...that you're limited to carry and move around. You definitely need to take some time to yourself ...maybe seeing a counselor once a week just to help with your feelings and thoughts and maybe the counselor can make some recommendations? I'm always open ..always here for a listening ear! Good luck Mama..hang in there. If you need to just SIT STILL alone..do it. Forget everything else. You are the MAIN PERSON that rules that house...if something goes wrong with you..everything shuts down...so take your breaks..because you can.



answers from Seattle on

I think all of us feel overwhelmed at times being a mom. Being pregnant and one under 2 is tiring.
You have some great advice on here already. I agree with talk to husband and dr. Enlist help- husband, 17 yr old, friend, preschool.
Do you have a good support system? Invite a friend over to help you unpack/watch kids while you unpack.
Have you checked out MOPS? Time for kids and time for you.:)
I wish I had scripture to share with you. Just know that God is faithful and will be with you even in the difficult times.



answers from Chicago on

Wow, it sounds like you really do have a lot on your plate! Can/does your step daughter help out? Can your 5 and 4 year olds go to school? I understand the desire to home school, but if you're overwhelmed, sending them to school might be the best way to give yourself a break and to help them gain some independence and develop socially. This would be a good thing after the baby comes too. And if your toddler naps during the day, can you have mandatory "rest time" for the other children (must stay in bedroom quietly, can look at books or listen to soft music)? That would give you a little break to maybe put your feet up for a few minutes or just have some alone time? Everybody needs a break! I wish you the best... God Bless.



answers from Portland on

Dear L.,

Sounds like you are overwhelmed because you have a lot on your plate. My thoughts are you need some help emptying the boxes in your house and having a little time to yourself when you are rested might be just the thing. Here are some of my suggestions: 1) ask a friend or church member to organize or help with emptying those boxes 2) see if someone can watch your children while you have some energy and got do a nurturing activity for yourself 3) schedule a date with your husband. Sounds like if you don't get some oxygen for yourself, you will not be much of a mom and I hear how important that is to you. I think you would be surprised at how much better you felt with just a two hour break for a pedicure.



answers from Dallas on

I just had my third, and I was super tired and cranky the whole pregnancy. You need to reduce where you can. Have the 17 year old babysit so you can go out with your husband. If you do not feel that you are adequately educating your five year old, enroll him in a school, and maybe take another stab at it once the little ones are older and you are no longer pregnant. If you can afford it, hire some help - just someone to clean the house periodically or watch the kids so you can get away for a little while. Do the main things, and let some things go. Give yourself a break right now, say no to everything that is non essential. In a few months, you will no longer be pregnant, and you will know if the way you feel is burnout, or just hormones. Best wishes to you!



answers from Yakima on

I'm sure a lot of what you're feeling is due to your pregnancy and hormones. Of course you're overwhelmed and tired! I was in your place last year....I woke up angry every morning and I felt like I was a horrid mother. We have a farm and on top of the kiddos and homeschooling, I had to milk the cow 2x a day. There were many days I leaned on her as I was milking to sob out my frustrations. Now that the newest munchkin is here, everything's much better. Homeschooling is wonderful, you can set your own pace! I didn't school my kids much while I was preggo and this year they are jumping ahead, the break didn't harm them at all. Your husband and SD can help put your things away for you, I'm sure, and ask them...that's my biggest problem, asking for help when I felt overwhelmed!
Good luck and this too shall pass.


answers from Seattle on

You are doing a fine job, you are just to close to see it.

I suggest that you get a home aid (or pay your step daughter) for a few hours a day to help out. They can do house work or help with the kids or both. You really need it.

Then you can unpack all those boxes, fix meals for the time right after the baby come, clean your house thoroughly, do all the little things that you love to do, and be ready for the baby.

Plus sit down, put your feet up, and read stories to your kids. What luxury.

Next question: Sick of Being Pregnant!