So many of us live through periods of ups and downs. It is normal to not always have “it” all together. Whether we suffer from bouts of depression or simply have too much going on in our lives, there are days when we cannot do it all. Those days where we feel we are treading water at the best and drowning at the worst. In the moment it can be impossible to see through the feeling of being overwhelmed. It becomes important to manage your time, priorities, family and get back to basics.
Know there will always be bad days in the future so be prepared
One trick I learned years ago was to have a “bad day plan” prepared in advance. The reasoning behind this is that when you are in the difficult or depressing time it is hard to help yourself out of it. Your mind is going a mile a minute in a frenzy or the other extreme of just shutting down and surrendering. Either case and you make no real progress. When times are tough you refer to this “note to yourself” and try to take action. Because these are small steps and actions that help you, there is a greater chance you will actually implement them in that moment.
What should you include in your plan?
The types of things you want to include are those that will help you get through the tough time with minimal damage or repercussions. It is helpful to include ideas that let you off the hook and help you focus on getting past the moment rather than fighting to keep fixing it or staying on track.
Some ideas if you are fighting through a funk and just can’t manage much:
- Call a friend (or a helpline) and don’t be afraid to explain generally what is going on – have names and numbers ready
- Also tell your spouse/partner that you are having a bad day rather than letting it fester and blow up later when they are not picking up on your mood.
- Remember to eat – in a depressed state this can get overlooked and a note can prompt you to make sure you are taken care of
- Have a list of positive statements like “It’s okay to have a bad day” – let yourself off the hook
- Use music to lift you up – have a playlist ready just for you, turn the radio up, or go crazy dancing with the kids in the kitchen
- Have a list of easy meals and lower your expectations – order takeaway, serve cereal or grilled cheese / toasties
- Go for a walk /change of scenery – have a list of places you can head out to with the kids, take your dog for an extra walk, meet a friend for a picnic dinner with the kids and that takeaway fish and chips (no clean up, kids go wild, you have a friend).
- Have a list of self care ideas that work for you – what have you been neglecting lately? slowing down and taking a bath uninterrupted, reading, writing, crafting, playing your musical instrument. Remember to fill your tank up so that you can be of use to others. Running a car on empty leads to a breakdown by the side of the road.
- Get some rest – nap if it is possible or plan for everyone to get to bed early that night.
Some ideas if life is too busy and you feel overwhelmed:
- Use some of the ideas above to take a break, regroup and boost yourself up. Sometimes you need to break the frenzied feeling and refocus, and switching gears with your family or routine can be the jolt you need.
- Let the kids have a bit of extra screen time – in spite of what studies keep showing I refuse to believe that watching an extra animated movie or playing some wii is such a bad thing. To me, it is much worse for those kids to be experiencing extra yelling, stress, tension etc from parents struggling to be perfect all the time.
- Have a friend or service (like after school care) on standby to back you up with childcare – if you get stuck in traffic, have a late meeting or a deadline looming it can be handled with one phone call to that friend. It happens to most people so I am sure you will be able to return the favour. This alone has saved my rear on many days where no matter what I did bus stops got missed, car accidents meant diverted traffic or I simply got so absorbed in working on my site that I was going to be late to school pick up.
If you see a whole period of this look at ways you can lighten your load including:
- Temporarily use an ironing or cleaning service – even when you think you have no spare cash it is amazing how you can give up a few routine “extras” (ex: magazines, alcohol, new books) in the short term to pay for something that can have a big positive impact. Have contacts lined up and numbers ready.
- Stock the freezer through bulk cooking and eat simply during this time – making a huge batch of pasta sauce and eating that 1-2 times a week for a while will not hurt anyone.
- Remind yourself to focus on what has a deadline and let the rest be pushed to another time. Often we get caught up in tasks that don’t actually have to be done right then – procrastination can be a lifesaver in this instance. Focus on the essentials!
Do you have any kind of back-up plans to get you through tough times? My biggest ones are getting back-up from a friend to watch the kids, using my freezer meals and ordering takeaway which we never used to do. We have 2 nights a week where we don’t get home until 5:30pm and a temporary thing became a weekly lifesaver when I started picking up fish and chips on the second night so the kids could eat at 5:31 when they are starving!
Find your simple,