Mid-summer, when our sixth baby turned a year old, I finally admitted to myself that I had been in survival mode for nearly a year, and that it was time to break free.
There is a time for everything, and adding a sixth child to a busy family the same year that our oldest started middle school and All.The.Activities (cheerleading, music contests, volleyball, basketball, track) that go with it, well, that was a good time for survival mode. Do what has to be done. Hone in on basic needs. Get by. It’s okay!
Survival mode is a tool, not permanent state of being. Even knowing that, it’s overwhelming to conjure the effort to break free. But it’s worth it. Here are four strategies that work for me when it’s time to break free from survival mode.
Complete a project.
What is with all of the dirty dishes, cracker-coated floors, and mountains of laundry that a family of eight produces?! The hamster wheel of washing, sweeping, and folding only to do it all again and again is mind-numbing and a little depressing, especially when the time it takes to keep up (or not) with the basics keeps me from other projects that make our house a home.
We’ve lived in this home for 9 years, and in June we finally landscaped the yard. It was revolutionary to our curb appeal (and we have the community “Yard of the Week” sign to prove it. Ha!) and felt so good to work hard on a project that has a noticeable end result! And you know what? Though they may have sat longer than we like, the dishes, laundry, and floors all got done that week, too.
Don’t be afraid to accept some convenience and compromise in one area (we ate a lot of sandwiches over the summer) in order to free up time and resources for other projects and priorities. Get off the hamster wheel.
In the rote day to day of survival mode, we came to accept both the effective and destructive habits and routines we’d accidentally or otherwise created long after they were necessary, because it was easier than thinking through and expending energy on something new. For nearly a year, the baby slept with me because it was so much easier to nurse and care for her at night if she was right there. Until it wasn’t.
When it was time, and while the big kids were at church camp for a week, we decided to transition our 12-month-old to sleep in her own bed. (She had given up nursing a couple weeks earlier, so that part was easy.) It took a few nights and a few tears, but my husband and I have our bed back, and baby and I are both sleeping better in our own space. Freedom!
Do what you gotta do in survival mode. I’m a fan. I’m also a fan of breaking free when the time is right, and establishing new and better routines for myself and my family.
Find joy outside of the day to day.
Parenting is constant, 24/7 exhausting work. The intensity revs up when adding a member to the family. While enduring a lengthy survival mode and making hard choices (lots of “no”s) that help get the important things done, I can feel the joy draining. I can absorb some of that temporarily, but my joy meter is also a great indicator of when it is time to break free.
The day to day work of raising a family isn’t going away any time soon around here (and really, yay for that!), but it’s time to make room for some of the other things that bring me joy, and in turn, make me a better mom. This blog brings me joy. I may not be able to write every day like I used to, but we’re back on! Sharing Young Living Essential Oils brings me joy. I’m not ready for a full class schedule, but the business behind the oils is slowly working its way back into my days. Spending individual time with my children lights my Mama fire for each of them. I’ve found ways to steal away one-on-one over the summer for a few hours. Find your joy!
Use your mornings well.
In June, I bought my friend Crystal’s Make Over Your Mornings course. The one thing I knew I absolutely had to guard while in survival mode was my sleep, so I had been waking up with the kids for months. I still do some days. It’s time to break free, though, and I am certain that using my mornings well is key, because I’ve inconsistently tested that theory for days or weeks here and there between babies over the last 12 years. It works. When I do it.
The excuses came fast and furious all summer, but it’s time. School starts this week for us, which is about as “New Year Resolution” as it gets around here. Even as I am up ridiculously late hammering out this post (joy!) I know that tomorrow morning the alarm is set. New week. New school year. New freedom from survival mode.
I’ve only just begun the course, but I trust Crystal’s experience, expertise, and long-time success with the method. Care to join me? If you haven’t already purchased Make Over Your Mornings, you can head over to MakeOverYourMornings.com to sign up to download the first day for FREE. We can work through the course together!
P.S. Stay tuned for a very special one-day sale on Tuesday, August 25, 2015!