So both my husband and I have been pretty overwhelmed. I know this is an exceptional time period – we won’t always be dealing with all the demands of a major relocation, but at the same time, I think being very busy is pretty much a regular part of life for most of us.
Although some of the things we’re juggling now will disappear within a few months, by then, Baby #3 will be here, so we’ll be facing a whole new host of joys and challenges as a growing family. Rather than looking forward to a more relaxed schedule with extended hours of sleep, I’ve decided not to hold my breath. Between one thing and another, I doubt we’ll be “less busy” for at least 20 more years. So instead, I’ve been working on strategies for staying sane in the midst of a very busy life. I’m not a master of it, but there are some things I remind myself of that have been helping.
Dedicate more time to God, not less. I’m not the type of person that prays on a schedule, but my faith is an important part of my life, and I try to make sure I make time for God. I do this because I believe it’s important. I truly do believe that God blesses us and that we should bother to take some time to acknowledge him. Faith isn’t just about asking for things when we’re desperate. It’s about love, trust and hope, and we need those ALL the time. But, at least for me, when I get really busy, making time for God (whether it’s ready scripture, going to Church more than once a week, or finding some time to talk to God and pray during the day), is easy to put on the back burner. After all, God isn’t going to have a toddler meltdown. He’s not going to close at a certain time, or penalize me for not getting some paperwork done or bills paid on time. So it’s easy to start prioritizing things that, in reality, aren’t so important. I try very hard not to let this happen. Aside from knowing that making time for God is important, I truly do find that making more time rather than less for God makes everything else more bearable. Difficulties don’t disappear, but they don’t seem quite as overwhelming. Work doesn’t disappear, but it takes on more meaning. Life, in general, is much brighter and more worthwhile when God has a central place in it.
NEVER leave spending time with your kids for last. This is something else I’m sometimes tempted to do. Since my kids are really WITH me all the time, it’s easy to feel like that’s enough and put off PLAYING with them. It can wait, right? But in the end, it makes both myself and them pretty miserable. Kids need a heartfelt and playful connection with their parents REGULARLY, not once in a while. Being with them first thing, or at least as early as possible really gives them the security that they have this love and joy in their family and makes the rest of the day go more smoothly. Leaving it until the end seems to make them more restless and makes me more stressed. Needless to say, it’s the things you push to the end of the day that sometimes don’t get done at all, and you don’t want family time to fall in that category. In addition, no matter how important some other things seem, push comes to shove, I won’t regret having put an hour or two of freelance work or a few documents or chores off to the next day. I WILL regret having put off play time with the kids until the next day…
Remember that you have choices. When I start grumbling about how much I have to do, I find it helpful to remind myself that I have choices. I’m deciding what to prioritize. If I’m really not satisfied with my current setup, I have options and can adjust what I’m doing to be more fulfilled. For example, if I’m really stressed out over finances, I can choose to do some freelancing. I decide to sacrifice time for peace of mind. On the other hand, if I’m running ragged with too much work, I can choose to set some of it aside, focus more on my family and pinch pennies. I can choose what chores get left for the next day, or what I put aside in order to prioritize the chores. No matter what’s going on, one of the best parts of being alive is that we have choices and can make a difference in how our own life turns out. There will always be challenges, but we often have some input into what challenges we tackle. Then, when the tough things still bug us, we can at least remind ourselves of WHY we’re putting up with them, and all the good things that are happening as a result.
Not everything has to get done NOW. Maybe it’s just my personality, but even if that’s the case, I’m sure many other people have similar personalities. My basic timeline is today, and yesterday. If it didn’t get done yesterday, it has to get done today. Period. Obviously, this is impossible. It helps me to remember that nine out of ten times, I am the one setting those expectations. The vast majority of tasks and responsibilities do have to get done, but they don’t all have to be done NOW. Many of them can wait a day or two, maybe even longer. Loosening up on my own expectations and following a realistic timeline helps keep life more balanced.
Get used to things not being perfect. They’re never going to be perfect anyway, and getting frustrated about that doesn’t change it – it just drives me nuts. So it’s time to get used to the fact that things aren’t going to be perfect. They can still be pretty great. I’d rather thoroughly enjoy a pretty great life than stress out all the time because I don’t have a perfect life.
Stick to a schedule. I know tons of people that don’t believe in schedules, and they do perfectly fine. If you’re one of those people, just ignore this point. But, if you’re like me, schedules help. Because I throw myself completely into everything I undertake, it’s VERY easy to let projects grow WAY out of control and take up far more time than I have. Blogging could take all day. So could the chores. So could freelancing. So could some projects I do to help others. So could pretty much everything I do. Sticking to some sort of schedule helps me make sure that I fit in everything I need to and don’t let any particular focus drain more time and effort than I can afford. I don’t let me schedule dictate my day. Unexpected things will come up. I need to adapt. But it at least helps me loosely make sure that, by the end of the week, I’ve kept a balance and gotten done the things I really needed to get done.
Don’t be afraid to drop non-essential things. When your plate is really just way to full, see if there’s anything you can put on the back burner, at least for a little while. This can be tough, because sometimes it might mean no longer doing something that you really enjoy in order to dedicate more time to more essential things. For the last month, I’ve unfortunately had very little time for blogging. I enjoy blogging. I think it’s worthwhile. I don’t intend to drop it completely or permanently. But I have had to put it in the background for a little while simply because it was one of the few things I COULD put in the background.
Take time to relax. This not only makes it easier for me to be a happy wife and mother, but also actually ends up making me work more efficiently afterwards. So even though I definitely get tempted to just keep going and going without a break, in the end, I get more done in a day when I take reasonable breaks than I do when I try to push myself too hard, often ruining the day for myself and my family at the same time.
What about the rest of you busy moms (or dads!)? Do you have any tips that help you keep your sanity and maintain a healthy balance in your life? Share in the comments so we can learn from each other!