In my last post I discussed my daily schedule. While I try to stick close to my schedule there are times when it isn’t going to happen. Those of you who have read my blog for a while and who know me in real life know that a few years ago my husband suffered an injury during a deployment that left him unable to drive. For about 16 months I took him to work, doctor’s appointments, therapy, and anywhere else he had to go. I was also homeschooling my kids, and taking care of my husband because many of the medications he was on left him unable to get out of bed for days at a time.
Needless to say during that time in our lives my schedule looked a lot different. Many times I was unable to plan because we would be waiting to hear from a specialist for a last minute appointment. It was almost impossible to plan for anything. Most people are not dealing with extreme situations, they are dealing with sickness, piano lessons, unexpected company, a new baby, deployments, or a struggling child. Many times these issues are temporary, but they can still take us off course very quickly if we aren’t prepared.
My advice when life happens is to prioritize. Throughout my husband’s ordeal I had two priorities, helping him and the kids. We still homeschooled but we only covered the basics. I stopped using curriculum that was teacher focused and started using books that were easier for the kids to do on their own. I still checked their work and helped them, but I tried to find materials that were easy to do in the car, at the hospital, or without me.
Some areas will have to be sacrificed. Before everything happened with my husband I was doing a great job feeding my family healthy, economical meals. When I began spending much of my week in the car or at appointments I realized that having one or two meals a week that were not so healthy were necessary for me to keep my sanity. We used a lot of paper plates that year and my kids learned to like frozen pizza.
Try to get up at the same time every day. Even though I was tired and emotionally drained I got up early and went to the gym during this time. I would listen to sermons on my iPod and it was a great stress reliever. Getting up early also allowed me to be dressed and ready to go before the rest of the house woke up. I was prepared for the day, no matter what happened.
I relied on technology to help me with the kids. There were days that I would spend four hours in waiting rooms with most of my children. (That did not include the 45 minute drive each way) Four hours is a long time for a 3 or a 5 year old to sit with nothing to do. We would have backpacks with crayons, books and other small toys, but a waiting room is still a waiting room. I finally realized that is was okay to bring the laptop and let them play a game on the computer or watch a dvd. I have never been a big fan of using the television as a baby sitter, but I realized that if your kids don’t watch it, when you do need it, it keeps them spellbound for hours.
Stop focusing on what you are not doing and find the good. Usually when we find ourselves out of routine it is for two reasons, one we are lazy or two we are dealing with outside circumstances. If you are lazy, shape up… but if you are dealing with outside circumstances realize that you cannot do everything. Focus on one thing you would like to accomplish each day. Perhaps it is making one meal from scratch, making sure everyone has clean underwear, reading a book to your preschooler, getting through math with your fourth grader, paying the bills, vacuuming the family room, or making it to all your appointments. Set small goals for each day.
If things are really tough, ask for help. If people offer to bring a meal or help with the kids accept the help! Life is not a contest to see who had it the worst and who handled it the best. By saying no and not accepting help you are preventing people from serving your family in a time of need.
Realize that in most cases the situation is temporary. If it is not temporary you will need to redefine normal, but most of the time a sick child will get better, the deployment will end, the baby will start sleeping, or the company will come and go. I tend to think about it in terms of how will my current situation affect me in five years? Most of the time I realize I will probably laugh about it, or feel thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from the experience. When things seem crazy take a step back from the situation and find perspective.
I realize this post discusses big interruptions in schedules, for little interruptions I would encourage you to keep going with your day. Sometimes we get so worked up with our distractions we forget to just do the next thing. Take each interruption as it happens and then move on with your day.
Coming up next… What my kids do all day.