Let’s Hear it for Survival Mode Moms

Posted January 9, 2017 by Julie in Parenting, TopPosts / 54 Comments

Some moms are Pinterest moms. This post is not for them. This post is for moms who I like to call survival mode moms.

Moms who barely get by day to day with a high-intensity child and a busy schedule. Moms who work all day then take care of a child all night, because let’s face it, those kids don’t leave us alone at night. Especially those of us solo-parenting, or parenting a dragon child (on in my case – both). This is for those of us who are struggling each day. We’re in survival mode, and we need to support one another.

Moms have a vital and heavy role – we take care of a tiny human who relies on us for everything, and this is outside our other obligations like work, taking care of the home, and our spouse. The number of hats we wear may fill a shop, but sometimes we’re the only ones who notice.

Let's Hear it for Survival Mode Moms

I’m writing this post as my toddler is screaming, fighting bedtime. I have gone into his room four times already to escort him back to bed and explain that mommy isn’t putting up with this screaming anymore and refuses to lay with him until he falls asleep. Mommy has things to do too, and this kid needs to learn to sleep, dangit!

That’s one thing survival mode does, it makes you soft, then hard. First I would lay with my toddler in his bed until he would fall asleep. All that would do is cause him to freak out each time he woke in the night alone, requiring me to run back to his room and take him to my bed so we (or at least I) could get some sleep at night before having to get up to go to work. That was me being soft. It worked, at first. Then he started taking advantage.

Several nights this past week he would wake and have an hour-long tantrum in the middle of the freaking night! I know he misses Daddy, I know it is hard for him to adjust to him being away when he got to come home over the holidays on leave. But that doesn’t mean he can take it out on mommy. One night this past week got especially bad after the second such tantrum, that mommy lost it and started crying and sobbing as well. Interestingly, that stopped his tantrum and then we held each other sobbing until we fell back asleep.

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Let's Hear it for Survival Mode Moms

Then I would go to work with eye bags that have their own suitcases, have to survive a long commute, brain all day, and then deal with him for another night. That’s when survival mode makes you hard. It reminds you that it is time for a little tough love and the only way to get a child off your back and literally out of your hair is to teach him this behavior is no longer acceptable.

My mom wasn’t this soft with me, and she constantly reminds me to be tougher and teach him what is appropriate. The pediatrician said the same at our two-year appointment as she saw how he was behaving with me.

But I’m a softie. Motherhood has turned me into a softie. So hearing him cry and complain breaks my heart and gives me all the mom guilt, but tantrums must be dealt with, and comforting him through them just makes it worse.  I stay close, but out of reach, so when the screaming and bucking stops, I can comfort and show him the calmer behavior is rewarded. But nights need to be different, and he needs to learn that two-year-olds don’t wake mommy up in the middle of the night to have a scream fest.

So what are survival mode moms to do?

Well, we do whatever it takes to get through the day and night. We find shortcuts, hacks, tips – things that make our tasks easier. And most importantly, we remember to take care of ourselves.

The phrase self-care has been making the rounds on the internet, especially with new year’s resolutions being touted by many.  Personally, I have been awful at taking care of myself. My immune system is down; a simple cold takes me out for weeks (though I still have to work and parent, while zombie-ing around). So this needs to change. I need to focus on me, at least sometimes.

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How I Practice Self-Care, when I remember to do so

I drink a strong, warm cup of tea. Emphasis on the warm, because, you know. If it means the tantruming toddler is put in his old pack-n-play for a time out while I reheat my cup, so be it. That cup of tea is a balm to my soul.

I blog. Like I’m doing right now. Instead of going to bed early. But getting this out is therapeutic, and I know that other moms feel this way too.

I call my mom. Or talk to a friend or neighbor. Getting support from other moms is so important.

I snuggle with my cat. Cats are excellent at soothing, with their cuddling and the purring.

I read, though I haven’t done that at home in a long time.

I place an herbal heating pad on my shoulders. I just heat it up in the microwave and place it on my shoulders, and let the warmth and lavender scents take me away.

It may not be a perfect Pinterest life, but we moms got this! Sometimes we forget, but we do wear invisible capes. When we support each other and take care of ourselves, our duties become that much less daunting. And now, with my toddler softly snoring away in his bed, I shall go do the same in mine.

What do you do to help get through those survival mode days?



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JuliepicI'm Julie, a new mom who works full time and blogs, all while wishing I had more time to read fun books. I write about being a first time working mom in order to help myself and other working moms in our journeys to find balance between family, responsibilities, and hobbies so we can thrive both at home and at work.
I can be found blogging at Fab Working Mom Life and Chapter Break, and hanging out on social media: Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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54 responses to “Let’s Hear it for Survival Mode Moms

  1. Self care is so important! In fact lately my little man has been playing pretty well on his own allowing me a little time to read something that is sooooooo restorative to my soul!

  2. Ah, the image of you and your son crying TOGETHER! I have totally been there mama! More than once! <3 You're so right to focus on your self care as much as you can. You're doing an amazing job, but it does feel like a thankless and endless job most days!

  3. Wow. You know when you read those posts that are so relatable and so honest & accurate that it takes your breath away a little? This just did that. I totally feel you on the survival mode. Hang in there Momma, you’re doing amazing!

  4. Oh mama, I’m there with you in survival mode. I don’t think that any mom is truly a Pinterest mom, we are all hot messes. Some are just better at hiding it 😉 I love relaxing tea and bubble baths with my favorite books for self-care. And blogging helps too!

  5. This post came right on time for me. I’m currently in survival mode. My two year old is throwing tantrums like no one’s business lately! I lost it today! I’m so happy it is not just me dealing with these terrible two’s.

  6. Yes! Survival mode is right! I’m just now learning to take more time for me as well, it’s so important and one of the reasons I started blogging as well 🙂 My son is entering 2’s now, so much of what you touched on I can relate to! You’re a great mommy, we all need a breather, even if it means letting them cry in time-out while we shut the door and have quiet time ourselves (with our tea or coffee) 🙂 I hope you get some good time to yourself today! Xo

  7. surviving! for sure! Each day has its challenges and most days I overcome them. I honestly believe only moms can really relate. It’s not easy, and at times we feel so alone. But what’s crazy is we are doing one of the most profound things there is to do, forming a young mind to be a person that can make a difference in this world! motherhood is a crazy wonderful thing. 🙂

  8. surviving! for sure! Each day has its challenges and most days I overcome them. I honestly believe only moms can really relate. It’s not easy, and at times we feel so alone. But what’s crazy is we are doing one of the most profound things there is to do, forming a young mind to be a person that can make a difference in this world! motherhood is a crazy wonderful thing. 🙂

  9. Blogging with a nice HOT cup of hot chocolate is the way to my soul, hahaha. Seriously, those times when you’re running purely on fumes and coffee are the ones you just need to take a break and remind yourself that you’re doing okay. And taking care of ourselves too doesn’t make us bad moms. Thanks so much for the reminder! <3

  10. Love this post. Thanks for the honesty in here. Motherhood is so tough! I love that you’ll heat up that tea again if you need to. Enjoy that warmth!

  11. I couldn’t agree more. I know that blogging for me has been a huge source of sanity. I love writing with a purpose and having thoughts forming in my head other than “what side did I breastfeed my baby on last?” ?

  12. This is ME, I am in Survival mode. I’m right with you Julie! Work all day, get home and pray for a pleasant evening and that I can keep my strength and patience together and enjoy my child that I love so much instead of wanting a strangle her little neck. I’d rather kiss that sweet neck 🙂

  13. Oh, man. Hats off to you! I TOTALLY GET IT. For 9 years I was a single mom in survival mode. Those first 3 years I was so sleep deprived I really don’t remember much, sadly. I’m glad you take the time for self care–it really matters.

  14. ok the best part, Some moms are Pinterest moms. This post is not for them. This post is for moms who I like to call survival mode moms. So true. Some days all we can do is survive and that is ok! I have had a rough past few days. Somedays I amaze myself at what I can accomplish and other times I feed my kiddo cereal for dinner. The winter months always get me down and in a funk. I’m so thankful for my blogging friends. Most days they are the only adult interaction I get!

  15. What a great topic to bring to light. When our two kids were little, there were a lot of times my wife and I went into pure survival mode. “Let’s just get through today” we’d say to each other when times were rough. Though its hard to recognize it at the time, things are eventually going to get better.

  16. Survival mode is real. I wouldn’t make it through the day without a close a friend I met through my local MOMs Club. We have the same age kids, mine girls, hers boys. We text every day to check in and vent with one another. Every mom needs to find their village!

    Cheslea http://www.binkiesandbaubles.com

  17. I love this and have two dragons myself! Funny, I’ve never seen anyone else write about them as dragons except in a group I’m part of. I have lived in survival mode for 5.5 years as a less-and-less sane SAHM.

  18. I am in survival mode for sure. My baby is in 4,month sleep regression and my almost 4 year old is just an emotional mess who throws fits when she doesn’t get her way.

  19. Thanks for this, Julie! Love this post. I know exactly what you mean and agree that survival mode is often the default setting for life. And, it’s so easy to forget that others are in this survival mode too because they look so pulled together on the outside. Reading has been great for me lately. I give myself a goal of one chapter a day (or half if it’s a busy day). I fit it in where I can 🙂

  20. PREACH! I am the one home with my 2 kids the majority of the day. My husband works long hours and sees them for maybe 2 hours before bedtime every night. It isn’t all fun and games being a mom, but someone has to do it!

  21. TRUTH! Survival mode is the right description for so many situations! Good luck with your nights. Bring on the tea, heating pad, and purring cat 🙂

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