Wednesday, September 30, 2015

8 Things To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

Life can get hectic. And with J in pre-school and needing to switch our routines around, and with the change in the season, my to-do list gets longer and longer.

We have been super busy since summer, and we still have a lot of fun and exciting things happening soon.  Add that to the amount of things I want and need to get done in order to get my house, and myself, ready for the temps to drop and the holidays to come, I sometimes get a little stressed and overwhelmed. For example, here are a few things we want/need to get done in October:

General Conference (cannot wait!)
Clean carpets
Potty train M
Race (also super excited.)
Field trip
Dr's appointment
Garth Brooks concert (That's right, I'm going!)

And those are just the things that aren't in our daily routine. Several of them are things that I've really been looking forward to. But mix them in with school, cleaning, cooking, running, blogging, being a mom, and fitting in date nights, it's a little stressful.

As we all know, too well, when you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed, the to do list usually doesn't get done. Instead it gets pushed to the back burner and starts to grow longer and longer while we try to ignore it. Then, when we finally do focus on the to do list, the cycle happens all over again. So how do you keep this from being the norm? Here are a few things I try to do when I start to get overwhelmed with everything on my plate.

Make a list. Not just in your mind, but an actual, tangible list that you can physically see and hold and cross things off of.  I don't know why this helps me, I'm not normally a list maker. But there is something about seeing everything written down that helps me feel more calm and focused. Maybe it's because I realize there isn't quite as much as I thought, or maybe it's just because I feel like I wont forget anything, but for what ever reason, it's comforting to write it down. 

Ask for help. This is one I struggle with. I'm not the kind of person to ask for a baby sitter so I can go to a store or clean my house. And I'm certainly not one to ask help cleaning or doing my laundry. But recently, we had two families move in on either side of us. They both have little kids the same age as my girls.  I never ask them directly for help, really, but I know that whenever they offer to have the girls come play, or take the girls to school, I get so much more crossed off that list.  And, in return I try to invite their kids over to play as well.

Schedule things out. We have a schedule for shopping, and cleaning and even for my running.  But you can even schedule out other things too. For example, this blog.  I schedule a time for my writing and editing, I schedule out what day my posts go live on, and then I schedule out my social media.  While it can sometimes be a lot of work, it really helps me feel like I can go do other things and not just sit here writing for you all, all day every day.  And though I love this little space, it's really nice that I can turn the computer off and go focus on other things in my life too.

Say no to something. When your list is growing longer and longer and then someone asks you to come to a play date, you don't want to be rude, it would be nice to go do that...but you have so much to do! It's ok to say "You know, that would be great. But this week isn't going to work for me. Maybe we can do something next week?" or "That would be great. I have some errands I need to get done. Would it be alright if I let my little one come play while I do that? Or maybe we can meet at the park after the errands are done?"  You don't have to do every little thing you're invited to. Even if it is nice to switch things up sometimes.

Use the time you have.  I just mean, be more productive with the free time you do have. I know that I have fallen into the habit, once in a while, when my kids are playing nicely together, I waste a lot of time looking at my phone.  Those are times when you can be cleaning a bathroom or doing the dishes.  It's one thing crossed off the list.
When J is at school and M is napping, I use that time to do the things that I need to do for this blog. If I'm good about getting those things done, I can read, or nap or watch tv or whatever else I want to do to relax. But I make sure this is done first.

We don't skip nap time. First of all, why would someone even want to skip their kid's nap time? It's the only quiet we get around here.  If you feel like you're going to get way more done if you let the little ones skip naps and take them to the store instead, you might be disappointed.  I've always said do what works for your family, and I'll stick to that. But I know that when I skip nap times in order to get more things done or let the girls have play time with cousins and friends, I end up getting less done that I would have if naps happened.

Do a little at a time. Going along with scheduling, don't feel like you have to do it all at once. Set a day for each thing you need to do. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. Set an alarm if you have to. "I'm going to clean for 30 minutes today" might be all you need. When the 30 minutes are up, move on to a different, more relaxing activity before trying to conquer more on the list. This helps you feel like it's a little more manageable and not so tedious.
If you need to also schedule in breaks, do it, just make sure to get some time to yourself to do whatever it is that makes you happy and relaxed. For me, that's when I run.

Enlist your family.  When it comes to stuff around the house, I always ask the girls to help (Trev is pretty good at helping without being asked). Having them help me with household chores not only gets my to-do list marked off faster, but it teaches the girls how to keep their room clean and how to take care of their things.  Now, this being said, it doesn't always work well and I almost always have to ask them 20 times before they will start working, but if they will help clean up the markers that they haven't played with for an hour, I can dust while they start cleaning them up and vacuum as soon as they are done. When they get a little older, they will have more chores, like cleaning their room and bathroom on their own.

Take a break. On days that I've worked really hard but nothing seemed to get done, I say "maybe tomorrow" and I try to relax a little bit.  Sometimes I even say "it's find- it-yourself night for dinner!" which means I have cereal, Trev has a sandwich and the kids have chicken nuggets, instead of me making a full-on meal that will take a long time to clean up.
It's ok to do that once in a while. If you're marking things off your list all week and then have one day where it seems that nothing gets done, it's not a big deal. Take a breather, watch a movie, soak in the tub. Do what you need to do to relax and prepare for tomorrow.

What makes you feel overwhelmed?

What do you do to make yourself focused and ready to conquer the list?


  1. Great tips! I've been feeling overwhelmed myself lately between wedding planning, a stress at work and in general trying to fit in a ton at home. I'm a big fan of forcing myself to take a break!

    1. Wedding planning is a huge stress! Try to make it fun though. One of my biggest regrets while planning my wedding was having a wedding planner and not being able to do much of the planning myself.
      Taking a break is totally fine. I do that a lot too.

  2. This is a great list! I love it! I do a lot of these things :)

    1. I don't tend to get overwhelmed with a huge list of to dos, but when the seasons change or big life events start coming up I have to do stuff like this because I get stressed.