40 things to do when chaos is overwhelming your day

Why is being a mom so hard? What should I do when I feel overwhelmed by kids, chores, work, and endless to-do lists? Here are 40 ideas for calming your chaos, bringing peace to your heart, and helping you love motherhood again.
(Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you use my links to purchase a product but your purchase price does not change. Check out the disclosure policy to find out more.)

Some days are just plain HARD. Some days are CRAZY. Some days we want to run, scream, hide, and eat chocolate all at the same time. But usually those won't actually solve the problem of the crazy that has consumed us. Yes, chocolate is good. Yes, I have on occasion hid in my closet, on the far side of the bed, or in the bathroom for a moment of peace. Sometimes we simply need to do something to break us out of the funk and reset our brain so we can handle the day. 

When we stare at the big picture of our homes, kids, and lives, it can feel like too much. How can we be expected to get it all under control? Instead of the big picture, look at the little things you can do to fix one small thing. Then move on to another small thing if you can.

Other posts you may enjoy:

I highly recommend the first three as your immediate plan of attack whenever the chaos starts getting bigger, but any of these can be a helpful to shift moods from frazzled to focused again. Some will help tackle the mess inside the house, others will help tackle the mess inside our hearts. Some will do both ;) 

Are you feeling overwhelmed as a mom? Feeling frazzled, pulled in every direction, and completely burnt out? Here are 40 ideas to help you find calm, joy, peace, and a refreshed attitude in your real life.

40 things to do when you feel overwhelmed

1. Breath prayers

Breath prayers are simple. As you breathe in, call out to God, and as you breathe out, pray something simple. Breathe in, “Heavenly Father.” Breathe out, “Bring me your peace.” Breathe in, “Holy God.” Breathe out, “Calm my restless heart.”

The act of breathing combined with praying will help settle your spirit and your attitude.

2. Read your Bible

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and I don’t know where to turn in the Bible, I often open it randomly and let God lead me. Let your Bible fall open where it will or blindly pick a spot. God has a way of speaking in amazing ways when I do this.

3. Turn on worship music

God created us to worship and it’s hard to focus on everything going badly around us when we are focused on Him. Sometimes I use Spotify, sometimes I use Prime Music, and sometimes I use YouTube. The kids like YouTube because they can watch the videos and words. I like this option as well because it can encourage them to sing along, which can only help everyone’s attitudes!

4. Wash the dishes

Frequently when I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s because I’ve fallen behind in housework and I don’t know where to start. Because the kitchen is the center place of our home, when it gets crazy, everything feels crazy! By doing the dishes it not only takes one task off my list, but it also helps eliminate a good chunk of the chaos.

5. Clean off a counter

Just like the dishes, cluttered counters can lead to a sense of chaos in the home. Put away appliances and dishes, wipe it down, and suddenly it feels significantly less blah in the kitchen.

6. Have a dance party

There is something about getting our blood pumping and having fun that can totally turn a day around. We like using Just Dance Kids on YouTube or GoNoodle for fun songs and dance moves. We also use our Google Home Mini and ask Google to play “freeze dance” and giggle as we try to hold still when she calls “freeze!”

7. Declare a restart of the day

Some days we simply need to stop and start over. I don’t care if it’s 10am or 6pm. Gather everyone together and agree to start the day over. Pretend all the grumpy attitudes, disobedience, and general chaos never happened by hitting the imaginary restart button. God’s mercies are new every morning, and sometimes we need to offer that grace to ourselves when we are trying to make dinner and can’t handle it all.

8. Pajama day

It’s okay to not want to motivate some days. It’s okay to declare a pj day and spend the day being cozy and a bit lazy. We all need mental breaks and to take care of all parts of us. If that means not getting dressed and hanging out with the kids, cool. Just don’t let the day off feed the chaos - remember it will all still be there tomorrow!

9. Movie day

I tend to save movie days for really cold days or on days when I’m not feeling well. We all pile on the couch with our blankets and cuddle up with movie after movie. It only happens a few times a year but it’s always a hit and helps me rest up.

10. Snuggles

Our kids are desperate for our attention and sometimes their behavior is a call for it. We can see the constant disruptions or disobedience as just that, but really they need us. Walk away from the dishes, put down the phone, step away from whatever is taking your attention, and snuggle up, even for ten minutes. Your kids will love the attention and you’ll be amazed at how much your mama heart needs it as well.

11. Read books

Books are my happy place. I love getting lost in a story. Reading recharges me so if I’m feeling frazzled or burnt out I will grab a favorite book or discover a new one and give myself even as little as 10-15 minutes to dive in. If you need some book recommendations I’ve got a running list of what I’ve read this year plus my top picks for 2018. And here are ideas for where to fit in reading when life already feels so busy plus I’ve got more than ten places to get books for super cheap or even free!

12. Text a friend

We can’t get through life alone. We are created to need other people. Send a quick text to a friend asking for prayer. Be honest and vulnerable. You’d be amazed at how many times you will hear “I understand” or “Me too” in response to your feelings. Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone is a huge lift. Other times she may have an idea that could help you. Don’t try to bear the burden alone.

13. Color

There is a reason “adult coloring” is such a big hit. Coloring, especially coloring intricate designs, forces us to slow down and be intentional. This is an easy activity to do with the kids as well. Give everyone their own book and pile of crayons and go to town.

14. Choose a healthy snack

Anyone else a stress eater? I often go for treats when I’m feeling stressed or grumpy. I expect the food to make me feel better when in reality I’m usually not hungry and the sugar and carb load does nothing for my mood. Instead, choose something healthy if you are insistent on eating. Choose an apple, carrot sticks, or Greek yogurt. They are much healthier and will help you get out of a hangry mood in a better way - if that’s actually the reason for your attitude.

15. Indulge in a treat

But sometimes we simply need a treat. Be smart, and take a small portion, but a little chocolate can sometimes boost our mood WAY better than some carrot sticks, am I right?

16. Take a mom time out

I will fully admit that I have gone into my room, shut the door, turned out the light, and hid in the closet to get a break. Just like I send my kids to their rooms for a break when their attitudes get a little out of control, sometimes I need a break as well. I’m removing myself from the situation before I actually lose it.

17. Do a 10-minute pick up

When everything in the house seems out of place I have no idea where to start sometimes. All the toys are dumped out, the laundry is piled high, and the kids are staring at me like they have no idea what a broom is for.

Set a timer - I love using our Google Home Mini for timers - and do a ten minute pick up. Everyone helps and it’s a race to see how much you can get done in ten minutes. Don’t worry about the things that aren’t getting done, simply focus on the things that are.

18. Unplug

Oh, technology. It’s so ingrained in our lives that we forget we can go without it and not shrivel into nothing. Put your phone in a different room, turn off the tv, and be present. Read with the kids, play a game, put together puzzles. Step away from the constant updates of Twitter or Facebook and be a part of your actual life. When we stop looking at others’ lives we can see how great ours are.

19. Journal your gratitude

A grateful attitude makes all the difference when we get overwhelmed! Yes, the dishes are piled up in the sink, we can never catch up on laundry, those kids won’t stop fighting and the checking account is looking a little sparse, but there is still so much to be thankful for. Start small - you woke up, you had food to cook for breakfast, or the heat is working. As you go you will begin to find more and more each day.

I have a free 5-day gratitude challenge to help get you focused on gratitude that includes several free printables if you need help starting.

20. Tackle a ten minute task

Ten minutes seems like such a short amount of time, when in fact we can accomplish so much in ten minutes - or less - if we simply focus. I have a whole printable with tasks you can check off your to-do list in ten minutes or less. Each of these can have a strong effect on your day if you finish them!

21. Declutter a trouble spot

Think about that spot in your home that, no matter how hard you try, attracts clutter like crazy. It’s usually a flat surface and a drop zone. That spot where people set things when they don’t know where to put them or when they don’t want to bother putting the item away where it belongs.

Ours is the ledge overlooking our kitchen. It’s the WORST at collecting everything. When it’s full of clutter I feel like the room is closing in but when I take the 5-10 minutes to clear it off, it’s a breath of fresh air in the house! Clean off that trouble spot and you’d be amazed at the difference it will make.

22. Drink water

How much water are you getting each day? My goal is a gallon and I can tell the difference when I’m only around half that or so. I feel tired, unmotivated, and snippy. Instead of reaching for a treat, or another cup of coffee, I try to drink a full bottle of water to improve my mood.

23. Get dressed

I didn’t used to get dressed each day. I’m a stay at home mom, why do I need to get dressed? Isn’t the perk of this gig the ability to stay in yoga pants all day? The problem was yoga pants weren’t motivating me. It was so easy to put off tasks because I was so comfy in my pants. By getting dressed I was instantly in the mood to accomplish something, anything, on my list. I’ve been creating a capsule wardrobe using these helpful guides and now getting dressed is so easy!

24. Bake a treat

The smell of fresh baked bread, cookies, brownies, rolls… you know, the smell of fresh baked anything is the smell of home. It’s inviting and cozy and helps me calm down. I love baking so when my mood is not so great baking can help boost me up. Even better is when I can gift my baking to others and spread the love around!

25. Exercise

Endorphins! Get your blood pumping and boost your motivation with some exercise. Go for a walk, turn on a video, or do some simple exercises on your own. I often have to talk myself into a workout in the morning but I’m always so glad I took the time and it gets me going for the rest of the day.

26. Listen to a podcast

As a stay at home mom, I don’t get to interact with other adults all the time. There are days that go by when the only adult I talk to is my husband. I love him dearly, but he works long hours and I can’t call him to hear his voice all day, every day. Enter podcasts. I have several that I listen to and I love the conversational nature that many have. It’s like listening to a friend plus I often learn things or find out about books and products that I might not otherwise know about.

27. Give your family hugs

Hugs are so good for us. They release all those good oxytocin buggers that can lower our heart rates and cortisol level - that’s the hormone related to stress! Grab your kids and give them a squeeze. Get them all together for a big group hug or go one by one and let them know how much you love them.

28. Send your spouse a little love note

I’m so thankful that my husband has a job where we can text frequently. He can’t always respond immediately, but it’s usually fairly quickly. I’ll send him an “I love you” or other sweet message to know I’m thinking about him. Shifting my focus from whatever is causing chaos in the house to my feelings for him can help my mood in great ways.

29. Do a prayer walk through your home

There is power in prayer. When the house feels chaotic and everyone’s attitude is less than stellar, I will sometimes walk from room to room and pray for peace, for protection, and for health. I ask for God’s favor on our family and for His presence to overwhelm us - because it’s about the only thing I want to be overwhelmed with!

30. Vacuum a room

Who doesn’t love vacuum lines? I mean, they are so pretty, simple, and calming. They don’t last with seven people traipsing through the house so I’ve started vacuuming during naps just to see them for an hour or so. Vacuuming means everything in the room is picked up which makes this a two-for-one idea. A clean room… such a novelty! ;)

31. Go for a walk

Fresh air plus a little physical activity? Both are great for refreshing your spirit. And with a stroller or wagon it’s easy to take the kids along. If it won’t make the chaos feel worse, you can let them walk along and explore. Sometimes getting into their world can help our own views.

32. Play a game

I’m not recommending zoning out with Candy Crush or Plants vs Zombies - something I’ve definitely done - but instead grab the kids and find a game to play. It can be a favorite from the closet or one you make up. Simon Says and Freeze Dance are wonderful for snapping kids out of funky moods.

33. Color with sidewalk chalk

Coloring is such a relaxing activity and sidewalk chalk is so much fun! No limit but your imagination. My kids love to get traced and create life sized monsters but I enjoy making flowers, practicing hand lettering, or doodling swirls.

34. Hand write a note to a friend

Sometimes taking care of the chaos isn’t all about us. Sometimes we need to do something for another person. Getting a personal note in the mail fills me with such joy - so go do that for a friend! It can be a simple “thinking of you” note or a more elaborate letter. Either way it is sure to bring a smile to her and to you!

35. Sort through clothing and donate unused/unloved items

Often the chaos in our home is the clutter. Clearing it out can help us breathe easier and allows for more natural organization. Go through drawers and any boxes you have tucked away and clear the items that don’t fit anyone or aren’t used and donate them.

36. Blow bubbles

Deep breaths are vital for helping us calm down and take a good look at the current situation. Add bubbles to those deep breaths? Calming and fun! You can center yourself and the kids can run around trying to pop the bubbles - it’s good for everyone!

37. Take a shower

Hot showers are a bit of a luxury during those early years of motherhood but washing away the stress (and sticky hand prints) is needed more than once a week! It might be tempting to crawl into bed as soon as the kids are tucked in but give yourself five minutes in a hot shower (maybe with worship music playing?) and let the day melt away.

38. Read a devotional

While I tend to stick to only the Bible most days occasionally someone else’s words can bring a verse alive and meet me right where I’m at. The Bible App has thousands of plans available. I suggest starting with The Brave Art of Motherhood plan if you are feeling lost in motherhood.

39. Do a brain dump

This should really be one of the first options on the list! Often the chaos is in our own heads. We have eighteen to-do lists swirling around in our brains and we can’t sort out what’s important, what needs to be done first, and what can wait until later.

Take a piece of paper and write down EVERYTHING in your head. All the thoughts. Write down the chores, the tasks, the worries, the ideas about that corner in your office. ALL OF IT. Once it’s all out it will be much easier to sort through and make a plan of attack, and get rid of the items that aren’t worth the brain space!

40. Close your eyes and breathe

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. The kids might be yelling, the dishes overflowing, and the school project looming, but you can breathe. It will all still be there. Breathe before responding in frustration. Breathe before acting in anger. Just breathe. Then open your eyes and handle it.

Most of all, remember - you are not alone. Every mom has felt this way. All of us have days when hiding in a dark closet or driving away for a few hours would be more enjoyable than staying at home. Don’t try to stuff the feelings of overwhelm or burning out down inside. Reach out, talk about them, and help your fellow moms out.

Sharing is caring <3

Why is being a mom so hard? What should I do when I feel overwhelmed by kids, chores, work, and endless to-do lists? Here are 40 ideas for calming your chaos, bringing peace to your heart, and helping you love motherhood again.