Best Motherhood Survival Tips

Sometimes “survival mode” happens.  You know that if you’re a mother.  Seasons of life, sickness, stressful life events, poor health–any number of reasons can make life feel overwhelming.

But the merry-go-round keeps turning and jumping off is not an option!  Motherhood is full time, even when you don’t feel like it.

But on the worst of days, there are some things you can do to keep things going.  I’ll share a few of my favorites:

1.  Allow room for survival mode. This is important. Perfectionism or a highly driven personality can put too much pressure on herself and when difficult days come, the mental burden of “not doing a good job” only exacerbates the trials.  Give yourself and your family grace.  Life will still be there on the other side of the hump!

In survival mode, it’s RELATIONSHIP first.  All else can catch up later.

Also, cancel as many “extra” activities during the difficult seasons.  You are a mother and wife first.  If you are struggling to do that well, you are not obligated to add other things to your list.  Use discretion and utilize “no” if you have to.

2.  Read.  Read out loud, give your children reading challenges, ask an older child to read to the younger ones.  Allow them to make “reading forts”, go outside and read, etc.  Reading is always productive, and it’s an easy thing to do when you’re feeling tired or low.  You may try letting some of your children act out what is being read for added variety and fun.

3.  Have a bed party. Particularly if you aren’t feeling well but you still want to stay close to your little ones, invite them to pile on the bed with you.  Bring books, toys (snacks if you brave) and just enjoy being together, listening to them and laughing with them.

4.  Do the next thing. Simple as it is, it’s a powerful antidote to feeling overwhelmed.  Pick one chore, if that’s all you feel you can accomplish in a day, and knock it out.  The sense of finishing a task will boost your morale.

5.  Don’t forget to delegate. Some mothers get burned out from the sheer effort of trying to do it all.  That’s not what mothers are called to.  We are called to work and manage, teaching our children the proper role of responsibility and giving them the opportunity to help us serve the Lord by serving our family.

6. Divert the conversation. If the moods seem to be sour, divert attention by announcing something like, “OK…Susie, tell everyone something you love about your brother.” This usually makes them giggle and then everyone wants a turn. I did this last night at the dinner table when a few of them were irritable, and it worked like a charm.

7. There’s always a movie.  Movies lift spirits at our house, but we have to be careful not to use them too much.  Sometimes I’ll reward them with a movie on a weekday, and often I try to make it an educational one (though they’re not always thrilled about watching “The Human Body” for the dozenth time.)

8. Forts. I mentioned forts already, but these can be a great spirit-lifter and fun way for the children to spend an afternoon, particularly on hot days when going out doesn’t excite them.

9.  Music. Music can calm, encourage and bolster the moods of an overwhelmed home.

10.  Load up and change the scenery. Sometimes cabin fever is all that’s making life feel a little more challenging.  Go the to the park and play with your kids.  Fresh air and fun is good for the soul and body.

Survival mode is only for a season, even if it seems to happen a lot at your house.  I have good friends who remind me that even the noise and messes of a large family will be sorely missed one day.  Soak in the moments–survive them.  You will be OK and they will too.  Surviving together could be one of the most bonding experiences life has to offer.

Have you read it yet? When Motherhood Feels Too Hard is a must read for Mommies in the trenches!  I could not put it down.”  -Faith

13 Responses to “Best Motherhood Survival Tips”

  1. Jessica says:

    Thanks, I was in that mode this week! Some of these tips will help out next time for sure!

  2. Natasha B says:

    I get books on tape at the library and put them on my computer that way when i have a migraine i can have my kids in bed with me but don’t have to worry about straining my eyes to read.

  3. Kelly L says:

    Wonderful ideas! Thanks!

  4. Alison says:

    Thank you so much. This was just what I needed to hear. With a newborn and a 2 year old, I am definitely going through this right now. I especially needed number 1. It is hard to remember that sometimes.

  5. Charity says:

    Oh Kelly, I needed this so badly today! This morning sickness (who in the world named it *morning* sickness when it lasts *all* day??) has about done me in! It is definitely survival mode in our home until I hit about 14weeks along. We are moving 4hours away this weekend as well, so nothing seems to be “normal” lately, but hopefully things will settle soon. God has been SO good to us, blessing us with another pregnancy, and my husband with a job transfer that will have him working less hours so he can be home more (something we have been praying about for over a year now) and moving us away from family members that can make life near miserable.

  6. R. F. says:

    Thank you so much for the tips! I feel like I’m in survival mode A LOT! As much as my husband likes and wants me home, sometimes I don’t think he understands how much work that entails. I often hear, “so what did you do today?”. Running down my long list of mundane daily activities like dishes, laundry, sweeping, cooking, etc. doesn’t seem to impress him. I feel the pressure to “DO” something more. So I’ve been trying to tackle larger projects like cleaning out the garage, rearranging and cleaning out closets and cabinets, splitting wood for the woodpile and such. But then I burn myself out and retreat to survival mode. I need to remember that even when my husband doesn’t see or understand what I do, I’m not doing it for him, but for God, and he does know and understand. So my biggest tip is sitting down and reading the Bible. Reminding myself of what and who is important. And praying that someday my husband will see what I do has value. (or maybe I should just not do ANYTHING for a day or two and let him come to his own conclusion how valuable my work is!)

  7. Linda says:

    I’ve had to learn the hard way to delegate. I just could not keep up with everything by myself and caring for 5 children. We are expecting #6 this fall and I went through a season of feeling paralyzed this summer. Then I began giving the children more to do. I learned they CAN do it. And they want to do it. They feel valuable and love to help Mommy.

  8. Mrs. S says:

    We are survivng right now as well with pregnancy nausea over here. I have turned the kitchen table into a permanent art zone with lots of craft and coloring stuff. We are even going out today to get the kids some more building type toys to get us through the next couple weeks. My son and I play card and board games together in bed and my daughter “cooks” me stuff in her play kitchen and serves me. Trader Joe’s frozen foods have also been a blessing. I am so happy I don’t have to earn the Lord’s love at this time. I can really feel His grace towards me right now. A few years ago I really struggled with feeling like I needed t push through no matter what. Now my heart is at rest. Praise Him!

  9. I love the “reading forts”–great way to give each child a little private space, too, especially in a crowded home.

    I also love what you said about using movies judiciously. We don’t have television in our house, but we do have a collection of DVDs. Every Friday afternoon, my kids get to choose one movie so Mama can get any end-of-week chores wrapped up or (better yet!) get a decent stretch of writing done.

  10. Tricia says:

    Kelly, that was fantastic, and very well expressed, too! Love it–and you!

  11. Audrey says:

    I laughed outloud as I looked at the picture and realized I had a pacifier in my mouth, my son is sitting on my lap and had an extra paci in his hand, so he shared 😉 sweet boy!

  12. Laura says:

    Survival mode here, too, because the morning sickness has hit. I have to keep reminding myself that “this, too, shall pass”. I won’t always be so tired and eating chocolate pudding for dinner! 🙂

    • Word Warrior says:


      But we do so enjoy the chocolate, don’t we? (I actually had to call a friend who was headed our direction for Bible Study last night for an “emergency Mocha Frappe run” :-D)

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