This post is from my sweet friend, Crystal Paine (moneysavingmom). Enjoy!
It was 2009. My third baby had just been born. I was beginning “official” homeschooling with my five-year-old, my two-year-old was potty-training, my husband’s law firm was still getting off the ground, I was battling postpartum depression, and my blog had mushroomed into something far beyond what I’d envisioned requiring hours of effort each week to run.
Everything felt out of whack. I was overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted — and I wasn’t doing a good job of being a wife, mom, homeschooler, homemaker, or a blogger. In addition, my health was suffering a great deal from the strain and fatigue of trying to juggle it all.
I knew something had to give… but what? I kept telling myself that if I just got more organized, pushed harder, and slept less I’d be able to find a way to do it all.
However, a better schedule, more productivity, or shorter nights wasn’t the magical fix. In fact, it was the exact opposite: I desperately needed to do less, have more margin in my schedule, and get more sleep at night.
It took me a few more months — and getting to the end of my rope physically and emotionally — for me to wake up to the fact that I needed to do an extreme paring down of my responsibilities in order to reclaim my health, find breathing room in my day, and start enjoying life more.
Thanks to my husband’s gentle yet persistent prodding, I finally accepted that I’m not superwoman, relinquished many things on my plate, and brought on some help. Since then, I have come to a beautiful place where I am enjoying life and don’t live everyday feeling stressed and frazzled.
What brought about the change? Well, here are four things:
1. Delete the Non-Essentials
Picture a book that had no margins — the words completely filled each and every page of the entire book. Would that book be an easy read? No, it would feel chaotic and busy, probably even overwhelming.
It’s the same with our lives. If we don’t allow white space to breathe and refresh, but instead pack every moment of every day full to the brim with to-do’s and projects, our lives will feel chaotic, disorderly, and exhausting.
You’ve got to set your foot down, create boundaries, and say no. This doesn’t mean you always say no to everything and it doesn’t always mean that you say no every time. But it does mean that you realize that you are the one calling the shots. If an opportunity or idea is going to put extra strain on your home and family, you are the boss and you have the final say.
It’s easy to forget this and start feeling obligated to people and projects, so I encourage you to ask yourself a few hard questions before committing to something:
- “When am I going to find the time to do this?”
- “Is this going to take time and effort away from my most important priorities?”
- “What is going to be the return on my investment of time?”
Never commit to something without careful consideration. I promise that you won’t regret it.
2. Make Sleep a Priority
For years, I burned the candle at both ends thinking I had to because my to-do list was so long. But here’s what I found: Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t make you superwoman; it makes you exhausted.
Believe it or not, I’ve learned I actually get a lot more done when I’m well rested, plus I feel a lot calmer about life in general. So I’ve been trying to go to be earlier and, on the nights when I don’t go to bed early, I let myself sleep in for an extra hour (or even two!). It makes such a difference in my productivity — and in my overall demeanor.
Do everything you can to make sleep a priority. Let the dishes sit in the sink, turn off the computer and go to bed as soon as you can at night. I know the temptation is great to use that quiet, uninterrupted time to tackle your list of 997 things you haven’t gotten to in the last six months, but your body needs sleep.
If you can’t go to bed earlier, try squeezing in a nap in the afternoon or on the weekends when your husband is home. Sometimes even a 10 or 15-minute catnap can do wonders!
3. Give Yourself Grace
You might be able to juggle a lot of things and do a good job of it, but you aren’t nor will you ever be superwoman. One thing that has really helped me to is intentionally set the bar lower when it comes to what I expect of myself. It’s wonderful to challenge myself, but it’s also important to realize that I’m never going to get everything done. There will always be another project that needs to be completed.
Instead of beating myself up over how far I have left to go, I’m learning to focus on being excited about the progress I’m making. Because moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is still moving forward.
In addition, I’ve become a fan of hiring on help. Now, before you click away from this post thinking there’s no way you could afford to bring on some extra help, consider a few ideas:
Could you find a little wiggle room in your family’s budget to hire a young girl from church or your local community to come over for a few hours every other week? It might be worth other sacrifices to make this a priority.
If that’s not feasible, what about swapping afternoons with another mom once a week — one week, she takes your kids. The next week, you take hers. Knowing you have an afternoon off every other week may do wonders for your sanity!
If you don’t think bringing on regular help like that would really be helpful, think of other ways you could simplify your life: maybe getting pizza one night a week to give you a night off from cooking. Or paying for a menu-planning service subscription. Or using boxed cake mix for that upcoming birthday party… give yourself grace to cut some corners and not feel like you’re failing your family if you don’t make everything yourself from scratch!
4. Enjoy Your Family
Your babies are only little once. Take time to just enjoy them. To stare into their faces. To soak up their cuddles and smiles and giggles and firsts. Stop and listen to them, talk with them, love on them. Cherish them.
And don’t neglect your husband, either. You might not have a lot of energy left at the end of the day, but at least meet him at the door with a kiss and a smile. Ask him how he’s doing. Make time for him.
This stuff is so much more important than a clean house or an organized kitchen. And if you’ve got to choose between cleaning or cuddling, always choose the cuddling. At the end of your life, you won’t regret it!
Today is the release of Crystal’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life! It’s a wonderful book and highly motivating and practical. I have no doubt you will find it helpful and encouraging!
To read more about it, head here!
Love, Sarah Mae
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