I’ll kick it right off with step #1 – procrastinate on scheduled blog posting! Yesterday was the scheduled date for my next post, but it was just one of those days. I checked in with my class schedule and realized how much work I have to do this week. Immediately after that I discovered that I had way overbooked myself for Friday and Saturday. To say I was consumed by overwhelm would be an understatement!
I could feel myself drowning under the proverbial “not enough hours in a day” syndrome, and I let it exhaust me for a day. I had every intention of sticking to my blogging schedule, but I realized that what I needed was a night free of obligation to get my mental state under control. So I did my grocery shopping for the week, put the groceries away, then poured myself a glass of wine and made dinner.
After dinner, I hauled Hunter to Game Stop so he could spend a ridiculous amount of money pre-ordering the newest Tomb Raider game that’s coming out later this week. He gets early access and some cool benefits with it, and it’s money he earned, so let the gamer of the family be happy! He also told me on the ride there that he has a school dance on Friday, which means all of my overbooked plans for that night had to be cancelled…which was probably for the best! After that I went home, made myself some peppermint tea, and retired to the patio bench to read. The rest of the world was going on hold while I re-achieved my sense of calm.
I headed inside at 8:00 and hopped on the elliptical. The one obligation I set for myself this week that I was determined to stick to was exercise…mostly because that helps ease the stress and get me back into a positive mindset. After that and a great night of sleep, I woke up today ready to tackle the chaos!
So my long-winded first step is this – take time for yourself! Sometimes when you’re feeling overworked/overscheduled/overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is take a step back from the obligations. It’s really okay to put things on hold for your own sanity. You’ll find that giving yourself some time to unwind and refresh will make a world of difference. You can’t take on a challenge if you’re mentally exhausted!
Step #2, at least for me, is checklists. I live by these during my busy times. I mentioned this in another recent blog post, but it really is a necessity for me. It keeps me on task and keeps me from forgetting important deadlines and agendas. I have a weekly checklist that I look at daily and make sure I get a couple of things checked off each day. I also have a daily checklist for the truly busy days, to make sure I’m getting done everything that I need to.
If laundry needs done, it goes on the list. So I don’t forget to set up the coffee pot and pick out my work outfit for the morning…it goes on the list! Tuesday night hangout at the river with the kids? Scheduled on the list for Tuesday from 5:00 – 6:00. This honestly takes the pressure off, because I don’t have to rack my brain to figure out what I need to do and when I can do it. I sit down early in the week and schedule the important things out, so as the week progresses I can just look at the lists and check things off. No worrying, no rushing, no stressing.
I also use the checklist system to schedule out my days so that I have a night or two free each week. Just as an example – the boys start SRE (their religion classes) this week, and will have class every Wednesday from 6:00 – 7:30. Since every Wednesday evening is going to be disrupted anyway, I’m moving my grocery shopping night from Monday to Wednesday. Rather than going home for an hour then going back to pick them up, I may as well stay out and get the shopping done. If I have a night that I know is going to be busy, I move as much as I can to that same night. I would rather get as much done as possible on that one night so that I can keep other nights free for some downtime.
Step #3 – Routine. Okay, so this one really goes hand-in-hand with my checklists. But having a routine that allows me to know what is coming every day or every week helps keep the stress at bay. Stress is maximized by not knowing what is going on, and not having control over your situations. By having a routine and knowing what to expect, stress stays minimal.
Every evening I go home, turn on the day’s episode of Young & the Restless and make dinner. The boys and I sit down and eat dinner, then I pack my lunch and clean up the kitchen while they get their free time. They start showers at 7:00, I take mine around 8:30, then they go to bed at 9. Once they’re in bed I get everything ready for the morning, then turn on the string lights around the window over my bed and either read or journal, so I can unwind a bit before I go to bed at 9:30. Obviously we deviate from this a bit on Wednesdays, and on Tuesdays we’ve been making time to hang down at the river while the weather is still nice. But even that is still part of the weekly routine.
A fringe benefit for parents – routine is the pinnacle of parenting young children. When kids are little they do best with a schedule and knowing what to expect each day. A lot of behavior problems can be resolved by maintaining a routine. I share this with you both as a mother who survived the early childhood days, as well as a former preschool teacher with a degree in early childhood education and classes in child development under my belt. A consistent bedtime, naptime, wakeup time, meal times and snack times make a world of difference for little ones, as well as less stress for Mom and Dad!
Step #4 – keep a positive mindset. Honestly, your attitude can be your best friend or your own worst enemy. Believe me, I understand feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and ending up overwhelmed. I was just there yesterday! But if you let yourself hang out in that mindset, it is going to poison you. It will suck you in, the stress will consume you, and you will break.
Attitude is everything! If you have to, develop a mantra to repeat to yourself when things are chaotic. Something like “I am a badass, and I will get this done” should do the trick. The more you say that to yourself, the more you will believe it. And the more you believe it, the more you will be able to handle it. Nip any negative self-talk in the bud immediately and replace it with determination. The alternative is failure…and if you believe you’re going to fail, then you almost certainly will. So stay positive and don’t even give failure a second thought.
From me to you – you got this ❤