Emily broke out in another allergic reaction yesterday, so we stayed home from our weekly co-op.
And honestly, I was relieved.
Not about the allergy, of course – that’s a bit of a stress we’re still trying to figure out. But I was relieved that we could just stay home that day. Our schedule has felt really overwhelming lately.
Here’s what happened, I think. When I looked at our schedule at the beginning of the year, it looked empty. TOO empty. I mean, it was just going to be me and the kids. At home. All day. EVERY DAY. And I freaked out a little bit.
So I started looking around for things to do. Turns out, there are a LOT of options for homeschooled kids. Co-ops, MOPS, gymnastics classes, piano lessons, soccer team, swim team, reading clubs…the list goes on! There is no shortage of things to fill our time with.
I wanted Emily to have as many opportunities as she could. I wanted her to meet other kids and grow in friendships and learn teamwork and get some energy out. I wanted to have a few hours to myself while the kids were playing happily.
So I filled our schedule. Piano lessons once a week. Co-op once a week. MOPS. Soccer. Gymnastics.
On the schedule it really didn’t seem like that much. It fit nicely into the hourly slots in my planner, and it looked like we’d have plenty of free time the rest of the week.
Except we don’t. We are on the go a LOT. Which leaves very little time for actual schoolwork.
As I filled our schedule with extracurriculars, I actually edged out all the aspects of homeschooling that were the most important to me. Time together. Good conversations. Reading out loud. Playing. Going on adventures. Learning at her own pace.
I saw all the things we could be doing, listened to all the people telling me what we should be doing, and just started piling on the stuff.
I think we do the same thing in our own lives.
We want to take advantage of every opportunity, so we say yes to too many things. They are all good things, so we want to be able to do them. And it LOOKS like our schedule can handle it, so we commit.
And I don’t just mean outside commitments either. Sure, we might say yes to things like PTA bake sales, or serving at church, or one more activity for the kids.
But we also make these commitments to ourselves. We decide we’re going to do at least one load of laundry a day, every day, no matter what. Or we decide to take on a big photo project, because we still haven’t finished our kid’s baby book, and he’s 7 now. Or we jump into a new business, like starting a blog or joining a direct sales team.
None of these things are bad, or wrong. In fact, they could all be great things! But the fact of the matter is, they fill our time. And we only have a limited amount of time. So when life actually happens, when we try to fit all of these good things into our already busy days, we look around and realize – our plate is just too full.
We get busy. Too busy.
And busy always leads to burn-out.
We simply were never meant to do everything. In fact, I think we were meant to do just the opposite – to figure out the few things that we were called to do, and prayerfully do them well.
So how do we change? How do we go from completely overwhelmed to overwhelmingly content?
3 Steps to Take When You’re Burned Out:
1. DECIDE TO MAKE A CHANGE
Nobody wants to live overwhelmed, and the sad truth is that often we’re the ones that put ourselves in that position. That’s also a FABULOUS truth, because it means that with God’s help, we can decide to quit our obsession with busy and start intentionally slowing down.
2. NARROW DOWN YOUR PRIORITIES.
Once you’ve made the decision to live intentionally instead of insanely, you need a strategy. A way to filter opportunities and make decision. You need priorities. Setting a few solid priorities for your family in this season is CRUCIAL to avoiding burnout. These priorities will help you keep your eye on what truly matters, and let the rest go.
For example, say one of your priorities in this season is spending more time together as a family. Coming up next month, you have three different opportunities presented to you. You could 1) Sign your child up for a play, which involves rehearsals and a performance; 2) Take on an extra project at work, which could help you make a little more money just in time for the holiday season; or 3) Get away as a family for a long weekend to a cabin in the mountains, before it gets too cold.
Without priorities, that’s an impossible decision. These are all great opportunities, and you might even try to fit them all in! But you’d really be overcrowding your month, and you’d end up way too stressed, heading into the holidays.
But with the priority you’ve already set for this season – spending more time together as a family – the choice is easy! You take that long weekend away, knowing that you’re intentionally making choices that build into your family.
With different priorities, your decision might have changed. If your priority was finding an activity that fit your child’s gifts, you might have chosen to sign them up for the musical. If your priority was increasing your income, you might have chosen to take on that extra project at work. The point is, you choose what’s right for your family, in your current season, and you let the rest go.
3. RESET YOUR SCHEDULE.
Once you’ve got your priorities set, you’re going to need to start restructuring your schedule. You need a daily routine that reflects the things you find most important in your current season. That’s going to mean saying no to a lot of things, and maybe saying yes to a few things.
But instead of feeling guilty for not being able to be everything to everyone, you can feel confident, because you’ve made the choices that make the most sense for your family in this season.
THIS is intentional motherhood. And it’s incredibly relieving.
An intentional mom knows her family well. She sets priorities that reflect her values and she filters her decisions through those clear boundaries. She guards the schedule, instead of filling it up. She creates space and time for the things that truly matter.
And it’s not just for the sake of our families. Being intentional has just as much to do with our own health as it does the health of our family. We need rest. We need conversation. We need good food. We need time to just be with our people. We need time to just be with the Lord. Filling our schedules and our days with all the things ensures that we no longer have time for those things that we need.
We have to choose intention, for our own good and the good of those we love.
In our family, I’m in the process of really looking at all of our activities, and pulling back to only the things that line up with our goals in this season. We are slowly bringing into focus the things that really matter, instead of filling our time just to be able to say we did something.
For us, that means more family dinners. More reading aloud. More outside adventures and local field trips. More park days and free play. It means keeping our mornings free so that we can get school done each day, and then choosing only a couple extracurriculars to fill our afternoons. It means pizza on Fridays and fiercely guarding our weekends together.
And honestly, it means being able to say, “Nope, that’s not working. Let’s try something else.”
It’s not an overnight change, but as you slowly make small shifts that make sense for our family, in this season, you’ll start finding more peace and less busy. You’ll get more rest. You’ll laugh more. And life won’t feel so impossible.
So today, I challenge you to make that decision. Decide to live differently, and then start prayerfully setting your priorities for your season. Let those priorities shape your schedule, and don’t be afraid to keep re-evaluating.
It is possible to make time for the things that matter. We’ve just gotta start letting go of the things that don’t.
Let’s chat – what are YOUR priorities in this season?
If you’re ready to quit the burnout for good, and start living intentionally, I’m opening the Stop Settling For Overwhelmed Course for just one more session in 2016. I’d love for you to join us! Together, we’ll spend 10 days really diving into the nitty-gritty of the things we’ve talked about here, and I’ll be there to personally guide you through it, helping you get focused, get organized, and get your life back.
This is the LAST TIME I’m offering the course this year, so jump in now, or you’ll have to wait until next year! Get all the details here.
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