Earlier today as the kids were cleaning up for lunch work I sent the 4 year old to tidy up the playroom. It was a mess which had mostly been created by his younger brother and himself. He went in and immediately said, ‘Momma, I can’t do it by myself!.’. I explained to him that if he would just choose one thing at a time to put away he could indeed do it by himself. He put away all the books and then he attempted to put the cushions back on the couch and chair. He couldn’t do it. I watched him try and try. He struggled but he kept on trying.
Finally he asked me for help. I was sitting here at my desk, which I had taken a picture of earlier because I planned to clean it up and post the before/after pics to one of my groups, and looked at the piles of paper. There are school papers, bills, books to read, books that need put away, sigh… I could go on and on. I got up and pulled the top down over the mess.
Then I saw the mess on top of the desk. Projects I’ve been working on, copy paper that needs put away, stacks of mail for my older kids, notes about appointments to make, and so much more. I turn to the island and start to clear it. There is a note that simply says ‘pantyhose, receipt book, tea’, seems like an odd combination but that was some things I remembered when I was in the shower this morning. Everything has been taken care of and has been crossed off so I throw it into the trash. There are several of these notes laying around the house as I have to jot everything down or I will forget.
The kids are yelling for me as someone is taking turns on the swing. My dad needs me outside to look at something. The phone rings and it is a telemarketer. My special needs son is having a melt down and as I notice that he needs a haircut, which may or may not result in another melt down. Then I remember that I forgot to do something, but what was it? Was it important?
As I stop and look around I see there is a grocery list to finish. Sales to look up. Coupons to clip. Floors to vacuum and mop. Things to dust and polish. The windows have little hand prints and smudges everywhere. The yard needs mowed. I still need to plant the stuff I bought over the weekend. My list goes on and on.
I go to bed so tired that I can’t sleep. I wake up before I’m rested to start again. My body hurts. My head hurts. My body hurts. Sometimes it just feels like too much. I feel OVERWHELMED! I just want to cry! I can’t do it alone!
I realize that I’ve been running around trying to clean up my messes and get my stuff in order but I can’t do it alone. I need to take some time and have a little heart to heart with GOD. Maybe you’ve recently been widowed or divorce? You’ve not only lost your partner but your friend. You have no one to talk to when things are going rough, or when you have exciting news. You feel utterly alone. It can be so scary. You feel confused when the person you thought you knew has turned into a complete stranger.
Life is hard. Keeping up with a house is hard. Taking care of a family is hard. Its all hard enough when you are married and have someone to share the responsibilities. When that someone leaves and you find yourself all alone doing all the work it makes it that much harder. Maybe you can ‘keep up appearances’ for a little while like I did. Then when it sinks in that they aren’t coming back you have a whole new sense of being overwhelmed. That has been me for the past month or so since the papers were filed. Now as our court date approaches I know it’s over and I feel almost as hurt and overwhelmed as I did when he first left.
So what do you do? First, have a talk with GOD. Confide in him. Ask him for the strength you need. Ask him for guidance. He is there for you!
Second, I would fix a drink or snack and make a list. Then decide what needs done first, second and so on.
Third, take a deep breath and get to work. It doesn’t matter what you do just choose one thing and get started! Try to handle top priorities first.
Make sure to take frequent breaks to re-energize. I have found that when I am upset I have a lot of energy so I try to put it to good use by cleaning or organizing. Lately though the kids have been a little crazy and it seems almost impossible to get even the basic things done.
I have my routines on my phone. When I have these days, which they have been quite frequent lately, then I pull out my phone. (You could have them on paper or wherever is best for you to have easy access for them.) I look at my list and work on it. If I remember something that isn’t normally on my list, check to see if I have pantyhose to go with my suit, then I write it down on a sheet of paper.
Letting go of perfection is another thing when you are feeling overwhelmed. Is there something the kids or someone else can help you with? Ok, maybe they won’t clean the windows the way you would but at least the windows would be clean. Maybe they don’t fold the towels like you do but you could check that off your list. Involving the kids can help keep them occupied so you can get other tasks finished.
When you come to something that is really hard then ask for help or break it up into smaller chunks. I hate cleaning the refrigerator so I might just clean the top shelf one day and another shelf the next. If I’m trying to fix dinner and the 2 year old is screaming for a drink I might ask the 9 year to get it for him. If I’m out of milk and my son says he is going to town I’ll ask him to grab some milk. Remember, if you feel overwhelmed just stop and take a breath. It’s OK to cry and scream (you may just want to scream into your pillow so you don’t scare the kids). Just don’t sit down or throw your hands in the air and give up!
Don’t forget to PRAY!