When You Can’t Keep Seem to Keep Up

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t seem to keep up with life? You too? Oh good. Because I am definitely overwhelmed with all there is to do right now. There is the never ending chore list, baskets of laundry, meals to prepare, grocery shopping to be done, children to care for, and work responsibilities to complete. I seem to be going from the moment I wake up each morning and as soon as I cross something off my list, I add two more things in its place.

It’s the beginning of a new month and so I made my monthly to do list. Here’s a glance at my October List. (Please realize that I use this October list as a brain dump in my bullet journal and definitely will not accomplish everything on this list.)

  • Finish cutting in and painting the living room.
  • Choose paint for master bedroom.
  • Paint master bedroom.
  • Pick out new carpet for living room and bedroom.
  • Clean the rest of the carpets in the house.
  • Blog weekly.
  • Unpack kid’s fall and winter clothes.
  • Move into master bedroom.
  • Create and organize playroom for kids.
  • Submit Boxtops for school.
  • Finish North Dakota Shutterfly book.
  • Work on 2018 Shutterfly yearly album.
  • Pick up our new minivan.
  • Visit my sister in Southern Indiana.
  • Host a Fall cookout.
  • Burn completed 2014 and 2015 home videos.
  • Buy a new desk for computer.
  • Set up new computer.
  • Write 10 custom books.
  • Read book for book club.
  • And so on and so on…

And the sad thing? That list doesn’t even include the weekly grocery shopping, daily cooking, or all the cleaning that needs to be done. That’s just the big projects and event list! I have 3 little kids whom I love dearly but I am exhausted by the time they go to bed. I’m not good for much after 7:30 at night so how on earth do I think I’m going to accomplish everything on my list? Andy’s gone all day teaching until past bedtime and several weekends this month, so I’m on solo mom duty around here quite a bit. I don’t say this to complain, only to share honestly with the other overwhelmed moms that you are not alone!

Here’s the truth of the matter.

We can’t do it all.

Every time we try to, something suffers because when we say yes to one thing, we really are saying no to something else. The older I get, the more I realize the truth in this statement. I work hard and accomplish a lot but there always seems to be more to do.

Because no matter how productive we are, there is always something else left on the list. 

So what do we do? What do we do when life gets overwhelming?

I definitely don’t have all the answers but here is what I am trying to do.

1. Do a brain dump and make a list. 

Make a list of everything that you need to do and that you want to do. Make separate lists or make one big list. Whatever makes sense to you, just do it. Sit down with pen and paper and just start writing everything that comes to mind. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else to add. Once you have a big list, sit back and look at it with a clear head. Prioritize the most important things you want / need to tackle and try to cross off a couple things that don’t really need to be done (or can wait until another time).

2. Do the next thing.

You can’t accomplish everything but you can accomplish some things. Look at your list yet again and break it down. What can you accomplish today? This week or this month? Pick one to three tasks (depending on size) and add them to your daily to do list. Not everything really does need to get done all at once. Tackle one task and celebrate when you complete it.

3. Develop a plan to simplify your life.

Consider making a weekly plan to accomplish some of your big chores and responsibilities. For me, this is starting to look like this. Sunday evening, I meal plan. Monday morning, I grocery shop. Tuesday, I teach piano lessons. Friday, I grocery shop again (as necessary, to get deals at Kroger). Saturday morning, I blog, when my husband is home to watch the kids.

When we assign days for specific tasks, life is simplified. It won’t always work as neatly as it does on paper because real life never does!

After you do that, think about what works best for you and how you can simplify further. Is it better for you to have an entire day spent on laundry or tackle a load each day? Can you double meals when you cook, so you have one ready for now and another to freeze for the future? When are you going to clean? Can you batch any tasks or do you do better focusing on one thing at a time?

4. Choose your “Good Enough.”

What is your good enough? If I pick up the house every night, the house still looks neat despite the fact that I rarely dust. That is good enough for me. If I wipe down the sinks with Lysol wipes as soon as they need it, I can get get by a bit longer between deep bathroom cleans. This is my good enough. What is yours?

Good enough looks different for all of us and that is the point. We all have different circumstances and different standards. I may let something go that you never would and vice versa. Good enough can also change depending on the life stage you are in at any given moment.

5. Give yourself grace. 

Finally and most importantly, give yourself grace.

Who is putting all these expectations on us? Society? Husbands? Friends? Or really, are we putting these expectations on ourselves? I know that I expect more of myself than anyone else in my life. So when I get stressed, it is mostly my own fault because I’m expecting too much. And why do we place all these expectations on ourselves? With whom are we competing?

We can’t do everything. We shouldn’t! Let’s work at changing our mindset. Look at all you have done already instead of what you haven’t done yet. 

And give yourself a break – mentally and physically! Sometimes, the best thing we can do is take a nap or read a book instead of plowing on through our to do list. We will often accomplish more if we rest than if we had just kept charging ahead. Pause to read with your kids and enjoy a bit of chocolate and then regroup for the tasks that await you.

We are not called to be perfect super moms. We are called to be real moms, living a life of grace, loving our families and the people God has placed in our path.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t seem to keep up, remember this. Keep living your life one moment at a time and choose your good enough. The to do list will always be there waiting.

What do you do when feel overwhelmed with all there is to do? Any advice you would for when we can’t seem to keep up?

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