Doper moms: you were overworked and "dialed back". What did you do less of?

I’d like this thread and poll for women with kids mainly, please.

So, you found you were overworked. Work, kids, hobbies, problems of loved ones, maybe psychological problems of yourself… it was all too much and you had to dial it all back a notch.

I’m curious: what did you cut back on? What did you do less of? What did you do different?

I’ve included a poll with a few obvious choices, but I would love to hear other stories.

I stopped feeling responsible for… having a home where surgery could sanitarily be conducted on any surface thereof.

I had a miscarriage and a stillbirth before my older son was born. I was convinced in the back of my mind that when I finally had a live baby, it had to live in a surgically sterile environment in order to survive. I cleaned for hours into the night, every night, even after I’d gone back to work. When I realized that by being what I thought was the world’s most responsible mother, I was fast becoming the world’s most exhausted and dysfunctional mother, I gave myself permission to scale down from super sterile to ordinarily clean home. Today that baby is 34 years old. So clearly I made the right choice.

Here’s what I did:

  • Started being really strict about sleep hygiene because I get more done during fewer hours when rested. This is obviously not an easy option with a non-sleeping child, but I do not have one of those

-Therapy/antidepressants (temporary and done now, but it got me through the PPD hump)

  • Started paying a cleaning service every other week (more recently)

  • Abandoned/switched hobbies temporarily (I have a job that is mentally engaging, otherwise it would not have worked, because I need some kind of mental/creative outlet); I dropped pottery and picked up knitting for a while since knitting was less time-intensive

  • Stopped feeling responsible for everything. I stopped trying to have my kid make every single birthday party, lessened weekends visiting family to more reasonable frequency, etc (I’ve been able to restore a lot of the family stuff because my kid loves her cousins, but she is not a big party goer so that has dropped off more); also, my husband stepped way up on chores

  • Changed careers to something with more reasonable hours and where overtime didn’t involve being on-site every weekend

Very similar story from me - when the kids were quite young I was working a LOT to make my mark and get promoted and then I started getting every freaking virus in existance.

The big thing for me was to sleep, regularly and to find a routine that allowed me to shut off my brain so I actually could sleep.

To allow time for that I hired a cleaning lady to deal with the big jobs and made a list of things that needed to be done regularly and stopped checking if they were done on my schedule and/or to my standards. Things got done but I had to let go of them being done my way or I would have continued to be stressed and the help I was getting would stop. It took a lot of tongue biting but it was a good investment in future happiness.

I kept telling myself it was temporary and I’d care more after the kids were in middle school, or in jr. high, or in university or moved out, but having reached each of these milestones I’m pretty comfortable with the laid back version of me. I’m still obsessed at work, but after years of practice, unless there is something unusual going on I’ve perfected the art of walking out the door and leaving it there until morning. It was a major personality shift and it took a lot of time to accomplish but holy cow it’s amazing for my sanity.

I will warn you upfront that I still feel overworked and as though I’ve had limited success in reducing that issue. Or very little.

When my children were younger, here were some of the strategies I used to keep myself from breaking under the workload:

  1. Worked part time instead of full time when finances permitted
  2. Followed the maxim, “Clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy” around the house since I could not afford cleaning help. This is self-defined, but my kids wore clean but wrinkled clothes, ate foods that were simple but mostly home-cooked, and lived amidst dust but seldom true dirt.
  3. Gave up all hobbies except reading. In retrospect, this was not nice to myself, but I couldn’t find the time or money to keep them
  4. Did not engage in good self-care generally. Until the kids got older, I seldom got sufficient sleep or found time to exercise

Like I said, some of those ‘strategies’ are suck-y; I don’t recommend them, especially the no-sleep, no-exercise, ‘Mom has no fun’ routine. But it was what I needed to do to survive, basically.

Speaking on behalf of my wife, who isn’t a Doper, I voted “cut back on a hobby.”

She used to be the de facto Treasurer for an animal charity. I was the actual elected Treasurer, but she’s got a background in accounting and was also a member of the charity. Maintenance and upkeep of the charity’s books took about 10 hours a week, sometimes more after the larger fundraising events.

When my son was born and she was starting to get pulled in every direction, I resigned my Treasurer’s position as soon as possible.

My wife seemed to have a mentality that any reduction of responsibilities was bad. I had to do some convincing that it was OK to say “no.”