I was having one of those weekends. Everything went sideways and that was before a family emergency resulting in my husband flying out of town on a moments notice. This past weekend everything felt impossible.
It started when I woke up on the wrong side of the bed Saturday morning. After a long, rainy week I was looking forward to a relaxing sunny weekend. I was still surprisingly optimistic as I cursed under my breath when I stepped on action figures laying next to my bed. But everything kept going wrong. I dropped a stick of butter on the floor trying to make breakfast…so gross.
After running the kids around to activities all day we were packing the car with blankets and snacks to go to a drive-in movie and everyone was excited. Then the weekend halted to a sudden stop. My husband flew out early the next morning.
I barely mustered the strength to shower yesterday, let alone do anything around the house. And of course my to-do list for the weekend was a bit bigger than it should have been:
- Power wash the deck
- Get new bedding for my sons big boy bed
- Hang a gallery wall in my husband’s neglected office
In my defense, I thought this wasn’t too much for a weekend. It’s not like I actually expected to stain the deck. I was just hoping for progress.
Of course I had a slew of work tasks I was hoping to spend some time on too…
- Manuscript for my next book
- Edit and upload videos for a new School of Decorating class
- Write a blog post (hey, looks like I’m accomplishing that)
As of the end of the day Monday, the only thing I accomplished is the post you’re reading now. And at first I beat myself up about the rest.
Even after driving my husband to the airport before sunrise and having one kid puke in the car on the way, I was still trying to plot out how to do everything. It’s a sickness. I thought…I could I figure out how to use the new power washer and clean the deck while the kids played outside. Maybe I could plan out the gallery wall after I get the kids to bed and then hang it in the morning after they go to school. I can stay up late and work after they go to sleep, because my hubby isn’t here to binge-watch Mad Men with anyway.
Of course I could have done all of that, but I shouldn’t have even been thinking about doing any of it. Sometimes you have to let a plan go.
What the heck was I thinking? This isn’t the time to be superwoman, it’s time to give myself grace. I am so bad at that. I push myself too hard all the time.
I’m working on it…with lots of reminders from my husband to take it easy. So when everything went haywire this weekend and I finally came out of the haze, I resolved to do almost nothing…except love on my little guys and take care of myself.
When everything feels impossibly hard, I do these five things (in no particular order, but I usually start with the shower to symbolically wash away the stress):
1. Take a Shower
I know a bath sounds more luxurious, but sometimes that’s just too much work. Keep it simple. I was going for quick wins and clean hair. A quiet shower did wonders to quiet my mind.
Even if you don’t meditate, you’ll love this app. It’s my favorite. Buddhify is an iPhone app with short (most under 10-15 minutes), easy meditations that anyone can do. My husband and I often listen to a “Going to Sleep” meditation before bed (my favorite is “Whole”). But there are meditations for every life event, including categories for “Feeling Stressed” and “Difficult Emotions.” I listened to several of them over the last two days.
3. Do Something Stupid Easy
When I feel like I can’t get anything done, the best thing I can do is grab for the low-hanging fruit. I resort to simple tasks that I know for certain I can accomplish, like loading the dishwasher. It’s not much but every little triumph helps. And a clean sink has a magical effect of making the whole house feel cleaner, even if it’s not.
4. Avoid Stress Triggers
This one is so important for me. When I think I can do it all, I often end up putting myself in bad situations where my anxiety or stress goes through the roof. By paying more attention, I can avoid the triggers that make everything worse.
A big one for me is technology. If I am already anxious or stressed, being behind a computer is the last place I should be. I am also not that great behind a steering wheel. So this weekend I limited my technology use to hitting the play button on my new theme song, Fight Song by Rachel Platten. And I took the boys to go see Tomorrowland.
5. Read a Nice Book and Go to Bed Early
Nope, I didn’t stay up late working. I listened to my body. After getting up at 4am to go to the airport, then chasing two boys and two dogs around all day, it begged me to lay down and take it easy. Thankfully I have a short stack of good reads on my nightstand. It’s on occasions like this that you need a light, inspiring read. I finished up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and dozed off before 10pm (might be a record for this night owl).
The next morning I felt so much better.
In the end, although I finished nothing on my to do list, I consider this weekend a success. My husband got to be with his family when they needed him most (and thank God everything is okay). I didn’t blow a gasket taking care of two rowdy boys on my own for a couple of days. Instead my husband knew we were safe at home (even if the deck looks like crap, the office walls are blank, and my little guy is making do with toddler size bedding on a twin size mattress). There will be time for the to-do list another day.
I keep having to tell myself, “Never be hard on yourself for being a mom and wife first and letting everything else slide.”
Checking things off a list feels great, but so does a day without a list to follow. I threw out the list and focused on what my boys and I needed most.