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I'm SO overstimulated! How do I cope?


Have you discovered that you are sensitive to visual clutter, touch, overstimulation, caffeine, loud noise, and more?  You might be a Highly Sensitive Person!

My guest today, Emily McDermott is an Air Force wife, a mom of 2 young boys, and the host of the "Moms Overcoming Overwhelm" podcast. 

Emily's journey through motherhood led her to discover her own highly sensitive nature.  Through her work as a decluttering coach, Emily empowers moms to simplify their lives, reduce stress, and create environments that support their well-being.


  • How to find compassion for yourself (and your parents)
  • Addressing physical, mental + emotional clutter
  • Small Habits with BIG Returns


  • Tips on Managing Legos + using Buy Nothing Groups
  • Emily's take-home message: You are worth more than your stuff.


Highly Sensitive Person Quiz


Podcast: Moms Overcoming Overwhelm
Blog: Simple by Emmy
IG: @simplebyemmy
FB Group: Decluttering Tips + Support for Overwhelmed Moms

I believe in you & I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.

FREE Training on parenting strong-willed kids



Emily McDermott 0:00
Just being able to kind of remove the excess, get rid of the clutter, to be able to have a home that at least supported me not feeling like everywhere I looked, there was something that I had to do and take care of and clean and fix and all of that. I was able to really say, Okay, what is the root of the problem here? Can I work on that, and then be able to constantly remember in the moment to have those mindfulness, pause moments, even if it's for like, two or three seconds to recognize, okay, before I'm, you know, lashing out in anger, before I'm doing these things. How do I want to show up? We know what's the person that I want to be? What's the mommy want to be? And is this going to help or hurt the relationship with my child?

Danielle Bettmann 0:56
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety... And not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you.

This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you've had an ear buds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here.

Hey, it's Danielle. My guest today Emily had a bit of a vulnerability hangover after recording this episode, which is a really good sign we talked about things that are real and true. And she'd likely dissolve some shame by saying it out loud and sharing it with you, which is the best example of what this podcast is all about.

Emily McDermott is an Air Force wife and mom to two boys who are five and six living in Virginia. She helps overwhelmed moms of young children declutter their homes, heads and hearts on her podcast, Moms Overcoming Overwhelm. When her boys were toddlers, Emily discovered an anger she never knew existed. After going to therapy, she discovered she is a highly sensitive person. And in this episode, she chronicles her journey of finding ways to heal and simplify not only her space and live with less with kids, but her mind and her calendar as well. She shares powerful ways she began to shift her people pleasing and perfectionist tendencies, as well as simple tips, like utilizing buy nothing groups. Emily's platform message that she shares as a wrapping up will make you cry and want to write it in bold letters on your fridge. So without further ado, let's dive into my interview with Emily.

Welcome to Failing Motherhood My name is Danielle Bettmann. And on today's episode, I am joined by Emily McDermott. Hey, Emily, thanks for being here.

Emily McDermott 3:43
Hey, Danielle. Thanks for having me.

Danielle Bettmann 3:46
Of course, I'm so excited because I got to do a episode with you on your podcast, Moms Overcoming Overwhelm. And of course, I had to have you over here because overwhelm we know that here at Failing Motherhood. Yeah. Yep. So you are at home here. So go ahead and just do a quick intro to my listeners. Who are you and who's in your family?

Emily McDermott 4:08
Sure. So I'm Emily and my husband and I have been married for 14 years and we have two boys, ages six and a half and five and I have been a stay at home mom with the kiddos since my oldest was born. And when I'm not, you know, wrangling them and telling them not to wrestle each other. I actually write custom poetry. I've been doing that for a while. And then I have the podcast like you mentioned, and have started my own decluttering coaching business just sort of as a result of helping overwhelmed moms declutter. So that's a little bit about me and my family.

Danielle Bettmann 4:50
Awesome. Yeah. And that was actually like, one of my offers as well my first year of business before COVID Oh, wow. And because is, it is like, so interconnected with parenting our spaces and our minds are so interconnected with our environments. And so when I was talking about parenting like, Okay, well, let's also tackle your playroom, when can I come over? Because everything was in person. And then I started my podcast and moved to Zoom. And I've never seen a human in person, it feels like since COVID. But I love that so much because it is so true. And that's a huge part of kind of your journey and motherhood, which we'll get into in a second here. But I have to prequalify you, have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?

Emily McDermott 5:36
All the time? All the time? Yeah, I think that when I realized, and I know we'll talk about this a little more, when I realized that I was this highly sensitive person, it made a little bit more sense. And I was able to give myself a little bit more grace. But I think that part of it has to do with my sensitivity to my environment. So when there is stuff everywhere, when it's very noisy, when I'm being as it's very common for moms with young ones touched out, you feel like you're constantly being touched all day, I had a really hard time with that I still do a little bit even though I'm in you know, therapy, and I've been taking medication that kind of helped me just the overstimulation. And when you have kids, and especially for me to boys is there's a lot of stimulation going on. So it is manifested in anger, when I feel like the kids aren't doing what I want them to do, which is most of the time, right? That's pretty normal. But the other thing that I realized was just having to do with my upbringing, and obviously, our parents do the best that they can. But for me, it was about growing up, perfectionism, obedience, control, like was I following what I was supposed to follow. And if I did, and I performed, then the result was good job, pat on the head, you know, type of thing. And I didn't realize until I became a mom, how deeply ingrained that was in me, when I was interacting with my own kids. And then when they weren't listening to me, I felt like I'm out of control. I'm not the parent, they're not listening, you know, and I would internalize that within myself, but then it would externally come out as anger. And it was something that I struggled with a long time. And so that's really the times I've felt the deepest sense of regret about any of my parenting or felt that failing feeling, which is not a fun feeling. Not at all, it has been, yeah, because of me kind of manifesting this need for control, not recognizing at the time that it was that I felt like I was failing as a mom, if I couldn't control the behavior of my kids. But I learned that we are responsible to our kids, but not necessarily responsible for our kids. I can't control everything that they do. They're not robots, not sure if you knew that

Danielle Bettmann 8:09
Shocking revelation. Yeah.

Emily McDermott 8:12
That's who knows. And so that has been an ongoing struggle, where I've had to have lots of grace and communication. And now when I'm able to put the relationship over that control of behavior, it's been so much better. And it's something I continue to work on every day. And I'm very clear with my kids that it's something that I'm working on, to remember, like what's most important? So that's probably the longest answer. Maybe you've gotten?

Danielle Bettmann 8:41
Nope, no.

Emily McDermott 8:43
I'm like, Danielle, are you my therapist? Are you my therapist? still need help.

Danielle Bettmann 8:48
But Failing Motherhood is therapy.

Emily McDermott 8:51
I have come out the other side and a lot of ways and I know what I need to do those foundational things that make me a better parent. And I am trying my very best to stick to those and always put the relationship over everything else.

Danielle Bettmann 9:06
So so, so important is why you're the perfect guest for failing motherhood because you are one of us. And you have done that work. And it is no small feat. And it is an ongoing journey, and battle and evolution and area for growth. Because there's always going to be more areas for improvement, but always progress that we're probably not giving ourselves credit for as well at the same time. So no, that's perfect. And I know that so many listeners are gonna resonate with that because we all figured out things about ourselves as a parent that we did not know existed about, you know, our preferences or personalities or sensory needs, until we were really in it in it. So what age where are your kids where you feel like you were at the height of that struggle? And then what age were they when you really kind of started realizing what helped And you know what made a difference?

Emily McDermott 10:02
Yeah, I would say the height of the struggle was after my youngest child was probably one. And then my oldest was maybe three. So just by way of background, my husband and I struggled with infertility, I was unexplained infertility, I've always wanted to be a mom. And so we're able to do IVF for my oldest, but then my youngest was what we call our free baby. So he just was like, he was like surprise. And so I never expected to have to under two, I always thought it was funny how people talk about how they're planning, and oh, we're gonna have these kids this many years apart, and this many years apart. And I never thought that that was like a luxury to be able to do that, until we struggled with infertility. So here I was with the two under two, and then I had postpartum anxiety after my second. And it really was this control, like, you have the lack of sleep, you have the lack of control over how you're spending your time in your day. And it was really manifesting it for my older child in anger, to the point where it was kind of like, not in a hitting way, but like a physical grabbing type of thing. And like grabbing the wrists where when you're done, there are red marks on the wrist. And it makes me sick to even talk about it. But I think it's important, because I know your listeners have been there too. Yeah, where it is like, and then when your child is looking at you. And they are hurt and probably a little shocked about like what mommy just did, right? It was one of those like, oh my gosh, like, this is a problem. Like, I need to figure out, like you said, Never never struggled with any anger issues prior to becoming a mom. And so it was okay, what am I going to do. And so I was able to do therapy, I did actually EMDR which is you're able to do, mine wasn't with eye movements, specifically, which that's what the acronym actually begins with eye movement, I think is desensitization regulation. Anyway, point is that I was able to go back into my experiences, and my childhood that were difficult or painful, and be able to kind of rework them in my mind. And a lot of those had to do with some of the control and performance and perfectionism things that I struggled with, as a child that were manifesting in my parenting. So that helped me tremendously. And I know, we'll talk about sort of my simplifying journey to but just being able to kind of remove the access, get rid of the clutter, to be able to have a home that at least supported me not feeling like everywhere I looked, there was something that I had to do and take care of, and clean and fix and all of that, I was able to really say, Okay, what is the root of the problem here? Can I work on that, and then be able to constantly remember in the moment to have those mindfulness, pause moments, even if it's for like, two or three seconds to recognize, okay, before I'm, you know, lashing out in anger, before I'm doing these things. How do I want to show up? We know, what's the person that I want to be? What's the mommy want to be? And is this going to help or hurt the relationship with my child, and be able to do that, and I feel like more often than not, now I can do that. And for me, that is huge. Because it's been a long journey, my youngest is now five. So it's been four years of me, figuring it out and still figuring it out. So yeah, that's kind of where I'm at right now.

Danielle Bettmann 13:57
So I think that's fascinating, because I really, really appreciate your vulnerability and transparency and honesty of, you know, painting the picture of what that was, like, when you really almost had like this out of body experience of like, who am I what is happening to me, this is not the parent or I was expecting to be, and I'm sure having even more guilt because of how badly you wanted to be a parent that now that you were, you know, like realizing that this is not picture perfect cupcakes and rainbows what is happening, and you know, a lot of moms find themselves in that place, and then they have so much shame. And you know, they're really afraid to admit that out loud and you know, ask for help because, you know, no one gets it. So, when we're just able to talk about it, it opens up such a window of possibility for home and for you know, resources. And that is just the whole heart behind my podcast. And so, thank you, for you know, that glimpse into your story. And for you know, practicality reasons I know, therapy is so powerful because you can go back and you can heal. And you can have just like a new normal of like a baseline, you know, of feeling more grounded and having the insight into, you know, some of the ways that your kids are experiencing you and the way that you experienced your parents, and just having that whole, you know, idea of form your approach. But if there was something that you could like a gym, you still hold on to today that you could offer a listener without them going through the years of, you know, EMDR, what's like one of the biggest kind of Ha's or takeaways that you still think about,

Emily McDermott 15:37
I think that I was able to see my parents, and especially my mom with a lot more compassion by actually looking at some of those memories with a closer lens. So I think that everyone has situations where they kind of remember things, and even maybe it isn't, when you were a kid, maybe it was a recent situation where you were staying with your family. And there was a comment about your parenting style. That m-ay or may not be different than what your parents do.

Danielle Bettmann 16:16

Emily McDermott 16:17
Or your in-laws or whatever the case may be. And just being able to not in the moment, but later on, kind of look at that in a different way and say, Okay, can I take this moment, and actually try to see that other person with some sort of compassion, like, whatever that means for you. So for me, it might be okay, I recognize that my mom was a full time school teacher, and was around first graders like all day, and then when she would come home, maybe she just didn't have the capacity to deal with my brother and I being crazy and not listening, you know, and now as an adult, I can recognize that and say, Okay, well, this is where it was coming from, she was kind of doing the best that she could, right. So I think that a lot of times, we're just like, okay, you know, I'm just gonna move on, this is my life, we're gonna get into the busyness of the day to day, but taking just a couple of those memories that stick out that have been wounding to you, as a parent, and how that you're feeling judged maybe by someone else in your life, and try to find just a little bit of compassion to pull out from that experience. And then focus on that. And when you think of that time again, go to the compassion first, rather than the hurt in the wound. So that would be probably what I would share.

Danielle Bettmann 17:44
Okay, yeah, I can apply that to like, even really simple things, too. Like one of my memories growing up was that my parents bathroom was always really messy. And as a kid, I was always like, get it together. Like, I just remember myself thinking like, Come on, guys. This is so gross. And now I look at it. I'm like, I think our the messiest room in my house is our master bathroom. Like, I get it, now, I totally get it. Now nobody sees it, it's the last on my radar, I don't have the time and energy to clean the whole house anyway, so something's gotta give. And it's just like, being able to look at that with fresh eyes now. Not that it was, you know, scarring to me, but it's just having compassion. When you can, you have to be able to kind of give it to yourself to sit in order to give it out to others. And if we're really on short supply with that, because we're so hard on ourselves, then you know, you won't be able to extend that to your kids, and you're really going to, it's going to be hard on everybody and not be able to believe that they're doing the best they can, if you don't believe you're doing the best you can. So it really is like a very interconnected piece of your relationship with your kids being related to relationship with yourself being related to the relationship with your parents, and it's, it's messy, and it's always gonna be a little bit messy. And it's okay, that's great. I think that that like and run with that little piece and journal on it later. So talk to me more about discovering, minimalism and decluttering. And simplifying, when did that first come on your radar?

Emily McDermott 19:20
So it was while we were going through fertility treatments. So this was back in 2014. And I was working full time had this desire deep in my heart to be a mom, we had decided, okay, these other kinds of ways have failed. And so we're gonna go for the IVF which obviously is a pretty strict protocol as far as like injections and going in for blood tests and all of these things. So it was quite overwhelming. And I didn't even have kids yet, right? Like a whole other kind of overwhelm after that. But for me, I realized, well, I feel overwhelmed now like how am I going to have the emotion No capacity in the physical space also to receive a baby like to be able to be prepared to even conceive, I didn't feel that way, I felt just very stressed and overwhelmed. So I actually was taking a course on habits by someone, his name is Leo Babauta. And he's pretty well known in the minimalist field or sphere. He has six kids, and he like, changed his health completely by I don't know, losing weight and stopping smoking and getting rid of all their stuff. And it's like, okay, well, very interesting. And then when I took that program, I found out about these two guys who call themselves the minimalists. And I read one of their memoirs, and it just was like, a light bulb moment, right? It's like, oh, maybe there is this connection between the stress and overwhelm, I'm feeling and all of the stuff that surrounding me, people pleasing, saying yes to everything, at work, or even volunteer commitments, you know, kind of that calendar clutter. And then also what I was telling myself, because the mental clutter and the emotional clutter, and everything was so, you know, focused on, I want to be a mom, but is it going to happen? And what if it doesn't, and there was just a lot of that going on. So I was very inspired to start that journey. And then I started, as most people do, in my home with my physical belongings, and then kind of moved more until like the calendar aspect and some of the mental and emotional clutter. So that's where it all began. And it has served me in every season of my motherhood, especially as I mentioned, when I was going through postpartum anxiety, and I felt like I couldn't make like basic decisions, it would be like, well, what are we having for dinner? I'm like, I don't know. I don't want to decide, like, I just don't, you know, yeah, because you're responsible for so much. And then you have the sleep deprivation and everything kind of causing you to feel like okay, I just, I don't care what anyone eats. So that served me well, because I was able to simplify some of these decisions and remove unnecessary decisions. And I've continued to do that, throughout my motherhood, which has been very helpful for me, too.

Danielle Bettmann 22:21
Oh, yeah, undeniably, so on top of that, talk us through a day in the life of, let's say, like, a day, when both your kids were four and three? How did that look different? To, you know, the naked eye or a friend that came over? What did your day to day look like? In just the small habits are the shifts that you made? That really made all the difference?

Emily McDermott 22:48
Yeah I think that I was able to recognize the things that had the most return on investment for how I was spending my time. And because otherwise, I think as a stay at home mom, and again, I have my very gold star, check the box perfectionist tendencies. That in my husband, you know, be coming home from work, and just very nonchalantly ask, Oh, you know, how was your day? What did you do today? And that's when you're like, What did I do today? Right? You're like, I don't know. And I would always want to say, Oh, well, I took the kids to the park. And then we went to the playground, and then we had a playdate. And then we did this, we did this, I felt like I had to do that. Check the box Goldstar type of stuff. But that wasn't actually making motherhood, feel any easier. It was just this feeling like I needed to, you know, perform and do things. So for me the things that have the greatest return on investment, really, were doing something like having a daily laundry routine, which I'm not going back on, I think until maybe my kids are out of the house. Because being surrounded by piles of laundry makes me feel worse than pretty much anything in my home. And so that was a source of overwhelm for me. So that was okay, if I can do one load of laundry and get that done and put away every day. I am winning at motherhood and life. So that was like one small shift. The other I would say is just lowering the bar significantly and just keep I just kept lowering the bar on our meals. I was like, okay, my husband is gluten free, but he's very low key. I could put anything in front of him as long as it was gluten free. He would eat it. And I'm like, All right, well, you're gonna have you know, frozen veggie burgers like again for the second time this week. He's like, okay, you know, I just realized that this feeling like, oh, I have to make these meals that are interesting and create It IV and it was stressing me out so much. And so now I do something I heard from Kendra Adachi. On the Lazy Genius podcast, she talks about brainless crowd pleasers, which is what are the things that are so easy to make, like, you don't even have to really think about it. And I start my meal planning every week with a list of those that I have of those things. So I fill it in with what's easiest. And then if I want to do like one creative meal once every two weeks, then great, but I'm not spending my precious time, energy attention on that, because it's just I realized, it's just not as important to me. So simplifying, and lowering the bar on expectations for meals, do you see a trend here? A theme, yes, lowering the bar. And then also, the last one is when I realized that I don't have to have the same cleaning standards as my mom. And I can still be a good mom and a good housekeeper without keeping an immaculate house, which is what I thought I had to do in order to like, be good at my job. And I'm using air quotes, because oh, I'm a homemaker. So I'm supposed to be doing this. This is what I do. I don't go into an office. So I have to keep the bathrooms clean. While yes and no, you know, and I was holding myself to that standard. And when I was able to pretty recently actually let that go. Then it's like, Okay, I'm gonna do a little bit of cleaning every day. And that's okay. I don't have to have like, the schedule and the rotation. And I need to do the baseboards this day. And you know, I'm happy. My family doesn't care. Maybe it's because I live with three guys. I don't know, my family. So why am I making myself feel bad about myself as a person and a mom and a housekeeper? I'm a homemaker. If, like, no one else cares. So I know it was a lot, but those three things have been huge in my journey.

Danielle Bettmann 27:20
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Yeah, well and I'm sure that there is more leniency if that's a word that you can have with your cleaning schedule when you just have less To maintain in the first place? Yes. So what is your home look like? Now, let's say compared to 678 years ago, on, you know, a tangible scale of like, you know, are you subscribing to full on minimalism? You know, like, Do you only have like one plate per person? Or what is your relationship with stuff right now?

Emily McDermott 30:22
Well, I did get my minimalism club card in the mail. So I'm really excited. That's what I joke about, I joke about having like the minimalism card in the membership, right. And then also the minimalism police. So like, if you buy too many plates, they come to your door, take you a, I just take the plates away. I think it's pretty normal and common with something like minimalism, which has to do with like, the word itself. connotates, the amount, right, and it is partially that. But I have definitely decreased, you know, the amount of things that I own based upon what's most important to me, and to my family. So in my podcast, and everything I talk about, I always go with, okay, we define what matters first. And that is the lens by which we're making all of our decisions for what we keep and what we get rid of. So one example is that when I was still working, I had a slight dress obsession. So I would be on mod cloth, which I think might still exist, but I was going on the website and looking at all the cute dresses, and then I would want to buy the cute dresses, and I had a closet full of dresses. Well, when I became a stay at home mom, I didn't have the need to wear like 50 different dresses. And it was like, Okay, this is not what is important anymore. So I can let these go and you know, be able to bless other people. And that has been huge, just being able to a joke, but it's actually true that I can get dressed in the dark. Because I do have to do that sometimes because my youngest comes in and wants to cuddle with daddy. And so we try to like keep the lights down. And I can just go in there. And I know that everything fits me goes together, I'm comfortable in it. And that for me is kind of what matters at this stage. And so yeah, I've decreased my clothing and you know, my wardrobe in general, my books when it comes to kids stuff, I have no qualms if someone gives it as a gift, and the boys don't play with it, it's donated. We just try to have what around us? Is it supporting the life that we want? And if so we're keeping it and if not, then we are, you know, the blessing release, just like, Okay, someone else can use it. And so we're not going to spend our time and energy and you know, all of those precious resources on things that aren't supporting the life that we want. So in that way, yes, I am very focused on those minimalist principles. But I don't focus so much on the number or the amount.

Danielle Bettmann 33:15
Yeah, which is so much more realistic, and I think really paints a picture of what it truly comes down to what minimalism is is as like a true lifestyle. And so how have you seen that pay off for your boys? How does clutter affect them? If at all? Yeah,

Emily McDermott 33:33
well, I mean, clutter affects kids in a huge way in a way that perhaps we don't really recognize as parents and just, it's visual stimulus, overwhelm. So that's the easiest way I can describe it. If you have kids that they go into their playroom, or in my case, I'm here in the basement, which is a multipurpose room, but we have the toys down here. And they just take everything and they dump or what I call the dumping go, or they dump and they move on to the next thing and they don't think on the next thing. Well, it's because there's too much in their visual field, there's too much in there kind of tactile field. And so it's they can't handle it. And so they are going to just dump and go on to the next thing. So it's not that they need more stuff because they're bored, and they won't play with what they have. They're just overwhelmed by what they have. And I had noticed that with my own boys, and even now it's so funny that we're having this conversation now, because my boys are very heavily into the Lego phase of life.

Danielle Bettmann 34:33
Oh boy. Yeah.

Emily McDermott 34:34
So my first four were in a townhome, my living or my family room area, it is the Lego store with a Lego lab or whatever I was going to, you know, rename it the Lego room instead of the living room because that's what it is right now. And I actually don't have them put them away. And the reason is, they don't have toys in their rooms. Right now. They don't have any toys out in the basement. If they did, we would still Which that up a little bit. But it is one small area where they're able to just play. And that's like all they're playing with right now. So I said to them, I noticed you haven't been playing with some of these other things. Would you like me to try to sell them? And then whatever I get from them you can get Legos with. They're like, Oh, yeah. So it's what's important to them. I'm not going to hold on to stuff just because we got it for Christmas pretty recently. And oh, it was given by aunt you know, Sally, know, if we're not playing with it. If they are not into it, we're going to either donate it or sell it or have some sort of encouragement to them for Okay, let's focus on what you are playing with and having those open ended toys. And that's pretty much all we have things where they don't just you press a button and does one thing. Legos are probably the most open ended toys anywhere, which is why I think they're so popular. Yeah. And so if we have a house that has zero toys, except for one rug that's full of Legos, I'm fine with that. I have no problem with that, because it's contained. And I know they love it. They're playing with it. And it's relatively easy for me to clean up when I do vacuum that area, which is probably not as often as I could. I just don't want to clean up the Legos, honestly.

Danielle Bettmann 36:19
Yeah. So you don't clean them up neatly. Like they don't have to, like pack up everything.

Emily McDermott 36:24
No. Right. So I will say though, I was spending a lot of time where I would be mommy. Yeah. Can you help me find a Lego? And I'm like, Oh my gosh, okay. Because there's like 1000s, right? So we do have them organized. Okay, you sleep in ways that my boys can appreciate and understand. So they're able to find the things that they want. And I'm not my day like finding that would be my life. No. So they are like out in kind of bins that are like somewhat organized. But yeah, I make sure that anything that isn't like a structure is kind of put away. So there's not like the dreaded step on the Lego Yes, situation. Because we don't, we don't ever want that they've had that experience to another like mommy. No, we don't want to step on LEGO something like I know. So yeah, right now we're kidding. We're keeping them out. And I'm okay with that. Because my brain is able to recognize that it's a contained space. And the rest of my house is clutter free. So that's my me.

Danielle Bettmann 37:28
So pre Lego stage. What did it look like when you know you're more in the toddler phase? Because the younger they are the more stuff it feels like just takes over your house?

Emily McDermott 37:41
Yes, yeah. I think that I could have been during that stage a little bit. With what I was keeping and what I would let go because I'll see videos of like when they were little like, Oh, I forgot we had that. And you have you know, some of the different I don't know if contraptions is the right word, but some of like the standing things were like the learning how to stay in and so you have like the

Danielle Bettmann 38:05
saucers or whatever, those weren't, yes.

Emily McDermott 38:07
Exer saucers? Yeah, I would say, always remembering, you know, that they don't need as much as you think that they do. And that was a thing for me at that time, because I have grown, I guess, in my journey. So at the time, we did have, you know, some of like, the bigger things and then would have more of the bins with some of the smaller items, and of course, books and so forth. But I think that if I was sort of, in my mindset now, and my kids were younger, I would do a couple of things. rely more on the library, if you have a robust library system, which I'm lucky that we do in my area, use that for like 75% of your book needs and just keep some favorites. And then also, you know, recognizing that those open ended toys are what's really going to give you the most return on investment as far as like their time is concerned. So you think about like the vehicles and the blocks, and the train tracks and magnetize files and those types of things that really encourage that open play. And then I think the last thing would be when you are holding on to things and not sure if you're having more kids, just recognizing you are going to be getting gifts from you know, family members and so forth. So you don't need to hold on to as much as you think you do for the next kids to come along. Just kind of keeping maybe some of the favorites. And if you feel like oh yeah, maybe we got rid of a little too much. I'm sure that there is a very generous grandmother or aunt that would be more than happy to take care of that for you. Yeah, no,

Danielle Bettmann 39:50
it's so true. Because we have that like scarcity mentality a little bit of like, oh, no, like I can't. What if we need this again, there's always like a story we make up in our heads about this Some sort of situation, we'll call upon needing this. And you know, what will we do, but there's always a solution. You're very resourceful. Yeah. But I feel like that's really practical. And I 100% agree, and would have said the same things that you did, because that was us then as well. And I love being able to know that everything has a season. So even if you do have the extra saucer and the swing, and the stroller in the you know, and the car seat thing all in your living room right now, and it feels like a lot, give it six months, give it six months, you won't need to have that stuff anymore. And it's gonna feel a little bit lighter and a little bit lighter and a little bit lighter if you continue to kind of just purge as you go with what serves them at this age the most. And some of the things that we hold on to are much more for our own nostalgia than they are for actual need and value.

Emily McDermott 40:52
Oh, definitely. And I guess, I mean, a lot of people, I think, now have heard of buy nothing groups, but in case some of the listeners haven't, I think it's a wonderful resource. And the reason is that a lot of times, we're like, oh, I don't know what goodwill is going to do with this when I you know, donate it. And so this is your community, it's, you know, a couple miles within your neighborhood. So not only are people less flaky about coming to pick stuff up. But the stories around it are really amazing. I mean, you have let's I'll give an example, recently, someone new, a woman who was in a bad situation had to escape with her two kids had nothing, right. And all of a sudden, the things that you are holding on to that you're like, maybe I'll use that someday, I don't know, when you are faced with that. And you're like, oh, my gosh, there's someone, they literally have nothing and they're escaping an abusive situation, then you're like, I'm happy to help however I can, right. And suddenly, those things that seemed important aren't so important anymore. Because you're able to help and bless someone, just, you know, in your community. So I would definitely recommend by nothing groups, because you get to bless literally your neighbors. And when you say the see the payoff from that, you realize, like, Hey, I don't need to hold on as much as I think I do. Because I'm able to help people in that way.

Danielle Bettmann 42:11
That's a huge win win. Everybody wins. Yes, yeah. Oh, I'm so glad you brought that up. Because it really did make the difference for me to know where my things were going. And you know, when we were done with them, and we were really intentional about that. And that just felt like it made it all possible in the mind game headspace for me. And I think that that is a big part of it. So you mentioned at the beginning, that you realize that you're a highly sensitive person. And I want to just circle back to that. So what is that, like when you your therapist handed you a book? I think that was, you know, by that title? What does that mean for a listener? Who was completely unfamiliar with that idea? And how do you know if you're a highly sensitive person? Hmm.

Emily McDermott 42:53
Well, for me, it was just, the sensitivity to noise was a huge thing for me. And in fact, I thought that I had something called PMDD, which is kind of like PMs on steroids, for lack of a better way to describe it. And there was this idea of called misophonia, which was like, if you're a person that when someone's like, chewing really loudly, you like, are super annoyed, and you're just like, it wasn't like that necessarily. For me with repetitive noises. It just was with my kids being super loud. So I was trying to figure out like, why am I so sensitive to the noise. And when I was reading, highly sensitive person they have on this, I think it's like a quiz or checklist. So I would recommend just searching for highly sensitive person quiz. And I was checking off most of those boxes about I'm sensitive to caffeine, the noise, like I mentioned, clutter and things in my environment. And so I was able to say, oh, okay, maybe this is impacting how I'm reacting to things because of what is in my environment. Also, while I'm extroverted as far as like talking with friends, and so forth, if I'm in a crowd, or a very, like stimulating environment, I definitely need to kind of remove myself from that and kind of regroup and recalibrate. So I would just recommend that your listeners kind of look for that quiz. And then if they feel like they're scoring pretty high on that, to check out the book, or any resources, and it would just kind of impact maybe how they look at their environment. And then also the situations they can control that are highly stimulating, because obviously, we have a baby, the baby's going to cry when the baby cries, but you can't do anything about that. But we can perhaps help with the clutter aspect of our home. Maybe we always feel like oh, anytime I have a spare moment, I'm listening to a podcast or the radio or like there's some sort of noise in the background, while maybe trying to remove that a little bit in your day to day and see how that impacts your mental and emotional state.

Danielle Bettmann 45:04
And I feel like that's another peek into the window of who we are that did not become discovered until we have these situations that really call upon it, you know, in motherhood. And for me, I know, I'm never a worst mom than when two people are trying to talk to me at once. Just my brain like short circuits, and I can't handle it. And you know, I can't listen to music while working. If it has like words to it, there's a lot with sound that I had no idea was even a thing. And you think that when we don't know that that's even a thing? Immediately, we jumped to what's wrong with me? Right? Why can't I handle this? How do I fix this, and there really is no fixing it, right? Like, it's not like something that you can cure,

Emily McDermott 45:50
as far as I know not. That is just kind of, you know, recognizing the symptoms, and then being able to do some of those foundational things, to the best of your ability that are going to help you cope. And there is some of like, the mindset aspects to like we were talking about at the beginning, with me kind of dealing with my anger and having those pause moments with my kids. Sometimes if I recognize that I'm getting very stimulated, where there's noise, and then the kids are all over me. And if my husband is there, I'm able to just kind of look at him, like we have the look at I'm like, I'm going upstairs for like five minutes. He's like, okay, and I can do that sometimes, if I'm here alone with the kids. And I have to I will explain Mommy needs a moment, I need to be by myself. And I will go into my closet and lay down and maybe take the noise cancelling headphones with me for the five minutes so that I can lay down because I always thought it was funny like these parenting experts or books, maybe you can speak to this, where it'd be like, just find a quiet place and count to 10. And everything of you lovely. Where's this place you speak of? That is quiet.

Danielle Bettmann 47:07
Is that like a? Would you show it to me? Yeah, like Chronicles of Narnia closet.

Emily McDermott 47:13
For real, because I'm like, no place in my house is quiet when my kid is screaming mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, and where do you go, there's nowhere to go. And so you have to really like set the boundary as best as you can age appropriate, of course, of course. But just like, Okay, I need to be able to recalibrate and to be myself and reconnect with what actually is matters in this moment. Because otherwise, it's gonna just keep escalating. Because if you're highly sensitive, and you're not dealing with it, it's gonna come out in all the ways that you don't want it to. And so that would be, you know, just kind of a little bit funny there. But really, even if there's not a second of quiet in your house, you have to just physically remove yourself best you can, for a short amount of time to be able to kind of get back to your equilibrium state, I think,

Danielle Bettmann 48:10
like you're a pressure cooker. And if you don't let off some steam, you're gonna explode in one way or another. And you can't feel like you're abandoning your child, when you do that you can't add on guilt that you shouldn't have to, or you need to just keep doing your to do list. Because it is truly a need, that you're listening to your body. And you are modeling to your kids, how to listen to your body and meet your own needs. And you want them to be able to do the same thing eventually. And it is teaching them something healthy by doing that. And I think we it's just that little shift in mindset helps keep it in perspective. And all you need to do is just let them know, I need a break. I will be back in five minutes. That's it. Yeah.

Emily McDermott 48:56
And I'm sure they can hear me, you know, breathing and sometimes crying and whatever. That's great. Yeah, whatever is going on. But again, that is you know, that's healthy. And again, the remodeling that and I find that if I didn't if I wasn't exploding, what happens sometimes is the imploding. And the Imploding for me was the shame, and the guilt, and the regret and all of those things immediately after acting in a way that I didn't want. And then my husband would come home and he was seeing in my eyes immediately, like that dead feeling that you have where you're just like I am the worst person ever. I'm just officially the worst person ever. Right? And we've all felt that way. And he would just see, and I'd be so quiet. And he's like, Okay, what happened, you know, and then I would be able to download that with him which again, not something that's easy to talk to anyone about including your spouse because they love your kids as much as you do. And to be able To say, Yeah, this did not go well, like, this is what happened. And I feel really bad about it. And just being able to have that sounding board of your partner, as well as a therapist that that makes sense to be able to recognize in communities like this with this podcast, like the, you are not alone, this is normal, you did the best you could to kind of have that boundary, it doesn't always work. Like sometimes we can't get to that boundary in time or get to that quiet, quote, unquote, place in time. And you just have to recognize there's grace there, however you find grace in your life, and to be able to just kind of move on. So that's what I tried to do. I don't have as many of those moments anymore, but they do happen sometimes. Right?

Danielle Bettmann 50:44
Right. Yeah, they are truly inevitable because we are human. And we are humans, raising humans. And keeping expectations realistic is a important piece of that for sure. And if you feel like you really are just stuck, know that like, we all find help in one way, shape, or form to grow. And you're not meant to figure this all out on your own. So it's okay. And it's really a part of it to continue to grow as a parent to find the thing that really helps you and you know, that might be decluttering. That might be therapy, that might be parenting coaching, that might be something else completely different, but it's going to affect your parenting because you're better for it. So I just really want to normalize asking for help when you know that it really feels like it's probably what's necessary. It's okay. It's okay.

Emily McDermott 51:34
By now you're like speaking to the like deepest part of me. It's okay, Emily, it's okay. I know, I know. I promise it wouldn't cry on her part.

Danielle Bettmann 51:48
Now, that means we did a good job if we're hitting our nerves. Yes. So if you have a soapbox, you know that you have this platform and you have you know, people listening? What do you want to make a point to say when you have the opportunity?

Emily McDermott 52:05
Yeah, for me, again, going back to kind of my main focus, which is the decluttering and always remembering what is most important to you, I like to tell mamas that you are worth more than anything you have ever paid for anything that you own anything in your home, you look around, supposedly the American household has 300,000 items in it, you are worth more than any of those things. And what you might not recognize is that the stuff that you have that is not supporting the life that you want, it is stealing from you it's stealing your time your energy, your focus, your peace, your attention all of these things it is literally stealing from you the life that you want and so you're worth more than that your health is worth more than anything right so just I know there's the voices that say but I paid so much for this and oh I don't know where it's going all the voices there's so many voices because we can always find a reason to hold on to things always but the freedom and letting go is not only the feeling lighter it's recognizing that you are making a decision to support your health and the health of your family it maybe that's not your deepest why if it's not figure out what that is and I promise you that living with less is going to support your deepest why so get on it I love that get on it people let's get rid of some stuff we don't need yes

Danielle Bettmann 53:42
starting today. And while you're listening to this walk to the bathroom throw something away start small and just like keep that little bit of momentum going because it really is addicting once you get going like the energy of it feels so good.

Emily McDermott 53:59
Yeah the releasing it is a release it is like a release of this internal like and I had a recent podcast episode where it gives gives you some questions to ask yourself and one of them was how would I feel if this item spontaneously combusted? And if the answer to that question is I would feel relief because I don't have to like think about it or deal with it like this random family heirloom that I have like no interest in keeping if you would feel relief if that thing were destroyed then get it out of your house because that energy it's like taking your energy to be holding on to it and then you're able to feel that relief like immediately once you let go.

Danielle Bettmann 53:59
Well same with like your kid stuff like the shape sorter you know like if the pieces are always all over the floor, and but you're like No, but they have to have this goes educational. Absolutely not. They will learn their shapes without a shape. Sorry about the shape sorter

Emily McDermott 54:57
Oh, you can tell it a bit out of the toddler stage for a little bit now. But yes, that was like the HOLD ON or like the stacking rings or like the different things. And yeah,

Danielle Bettmann 55:08
you can't be a good mom without those Oh, I

Emily McDermott 55:10
know, well, a lot of times we'll hold on to things as parents that we think our kids should be playing with, because they're quote unquote, educational. And then we say to our older kids, maybe like, don't you want to play with this? No. But you know, I've never like trying to justify why they would want to play with it. But you're right. I mean, kids have other ways of learning things besides having the color coded toys. So it's not something we have to or we're not a good parent, if we're not, you know, keeping some of these things. That's an excellent point.

Danielle Bettmann 55:40
Yes, I'd always say like if it maddens you, if it has too loud of, you know, a sound system and you can't turn it off. Or you can't take the batteries out or like those pieces all over the floor or ways or you can't find a piece to something and you think that you're going to any of those things, just let it go. Yeah, like Elsa says, Let It Go.

Emily McDermott 56:01
Exactly. I had the song on my head.

Danielle Bettmann 56:07
But it's so true. And I think sometimes you just need permission. So this is your permission. It's okay. Your kids will live.

Emily McDermott 56:13
Yes, I do that all the time. I'm like, here's your permission slip. You don't need this for me. But if you feel like you do, here you go. Yes. People like, oh, okay, I can get rid of that thing. I'm like, Yes, you go, right.

Danielle Bettmann 56:26
I will never forget that my kids have like this ball. That was like this rolling ball that they were supposed to play with when they were like infant to toddler. And when it was in the toy box, just really randomly, it would just like talk to you. And it would literally be like in this like garbled voice play with me. Oh, that's scary. It was frightening. I was like, Get this out of my house. Some of the things we have. It's like, Oh, my goodness. But yeah, you'll probably have something like that. When you think of like, go grab it right now. Yeah, for sure. So to wrap up, because I feel like we could keep talking forever about that. So many good things. how can listeners connect with you? Or at the end of this episode?

Emily McDermott 57:07
Sure. So I think the best way is probably Yeah, my podcast, Mom's Overcoming Overwhelm. And I have a free Facebook group for decluttering tips and support. So every other week, we do a five day decluttering challenge. 15 minutes a day, in and out. And you know, everything counts. And I do a daily like little pep talk video to kind of help you out. Nice. So I think that'd be the best way. And otherwise, on Instagram, I'm not there a ton, but I'm at simple by me on Instagram, so you can connect with me there too. Perfect.

Danielle Bettmann 57:42
So last question I ask every guest that comes on is how are you? The mom that your kids need?

Emily McDermott 57:48
Oh, well, here's where I'm going to start crying. By the way, Danielle, for the very end for my tears to come. Oh my gosh, okay, I seriously probably will start crying. Okay. So when I knew in the depths of my being that I wanted to be a mom, and with my faith, I believe that God had created me to be a mom. And I couldn't understand why it wasn't happening. And then when it did happen so many times, I was not showing up the way that I wanted to. And I think that just actually remembering, in my case, what God says about me as a person and mom, that I know that I was created to be their mom. And I get reminders of that when I remind myself of that truth. I get reminders of that for my kids. And I can recognize that and things that they will say to me, you know, like when my youngest says, you, mommy, you're the best person in the whole universe. Daddy's the best person in the world. But you're the best person in the universe. I

Danielle Bettmann 58:55
love that status.

Emily McDermott 58:57
Kind of like yeah, like I can like hold that. And then when there's the tougher moments that might be 20 minutes later, right? Then I'm able to say even though this was a tough moment, I'm still the mom that was designed for these kids. And I believed that before I had them. And I continue to believe that after I've had them. And I am always grateful every day that I'm a mom, I try to explain to my kids that it's the one job that you can't quit. It's the one job in the world as a parent, right? You can't quit, you're always going to be and so if you're going to have this lifelong job, then you have to believe that you were created to be that for your kids. And so I just try to remind myself of that as often as I can. That's beautiful. And I got a little bit of tear a little bit

Danielle Bettmann 59:50
we did get well, they are lucky to have you because that is really important perspective to keep in mind. So thank you. Thank you be sharing. And thank you for your time and for all. I feel like you loaded this with tips and lots of things that we can chew on after this episode so, so appreciate you joining me here on failing motherhood and I know we will continue this conversation and other times. Thanks again.

Thanks, Danielle. I really appreciate it. Of Course.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.




Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!