Mercy! Look at all those dishes.
For most of the last year I didn't even need a calendar.
No planner, no schedule – nothing.
We had a few lessons here and there and a good solid rhythm to guide us, and that was normally enough.
But the past few weeks – and looking ahead straight into the New Year – our schedule is borderline manic.
Birthday celebrations, holidays, LüSa events and shows, meetings, classes, lessons, work.
And all of that is overlaid onto an already full-to-bursting life of filling our pantry and freezer, caring for animals, and buttoning up this little old farmhouse for winter.
And sometimes I'm completely overwhelmed.
The other day I looked at Pete across the farmyard and yelled, "We forgot to put relaxing on the to-do list!"
The truth is, we love the kind of busy that results in a full freezer or a tidy wood pile.
And we love the lessons our kids take, our family work days at LüSa, and all the rest.
But sometimes it's all a bit too much.
Here is how I stay sane when the calendar is full and to-do list spills over onto a second (okay, or third) page.
1. Get organized
I always carry a small sketch book with me in my bag. For doodles and tangles and making art, wherever I am.
But now my sketch book has a practical side.
Inside of the back I drew a calendar for the next three months.
I always have it with me, and there I can jot down the time of lessons, meetings, and other events.
Having this calendar at my fingertips is keeping me up to speed on all that needs to be done. I'm not missing meetings or forgetting lessons because life is busy. All the information I need is accessible.
There is also a to-do list there where I can jot down anything I'm otherwise sure to forget.
2. Prioritize your tasks
What needs to be done today?
Put those tasks on their own list. Your "A" list. (Or in our case, the "before the snow comes" list.)
When it's time to dig in and get to work, go to this list first.
Then fill in with tasks from your "B" list.
Otherwise you'll find yourself doing the most enjoyable tasks first, not the most time-sensitive ones.
3. One day at a time
Try to focus on just today.
Today is full.
And tomorrow may be busy, this week may be crazy, and next month may be overwhelming.
But all you have to think about now it today.
4. Just say no
When life is busy it's time to pull back as best as we can.
okay to say no now and then.
Anything you're doing because
you think you "should" is a candidate for cutting from your
Simplify lessons, social gatherings, extra obligations.
You'll jump back in on most of it when time is more abundant. But for
now something has to give.
5. Start somewhere
If you're prioritized tasks are overwhelming, find something enjoyable that needs to get done and do it.
Prime the pump.
Starting somewhere will break the deer-in-headlights feeling we all get on occasion during a manic time.
And then you're off.
6. Lower your standards
My house. Is. A mess. I mean really. It's insane.
Our halloween costumes are strewn about the living room, there is a huge bowl of chicken feet in my freezer (don't ask), and our mop hasn't been seen for weeks.
Something had to give. And this was it.
For you it might be something else – shortcut meals, a babysitter for a day, skipping a meeting – whatever it is, cut some corners now to keep yourself sane.
7. Accept help
When we needed to butcher our chickens we reached out for help. Ultimately the timing didn't work for the friends who wanted to pitch in, but we did get a chicken plucker to use which saved us countless hours.
Others offered to take care of our kids while we worked on this and other big projects.
At the same time a friend asked me to bring her a meal because she's having a hard time.
So ask. Whatever your reason.
We're here to support each other.
8. Focus on success
Sometimes I write things on my list just so that I can cross them off.
Because I need to see a measurable course of progress.
Don't forget to celebrate all you have gotten done.
Because if you wait to celebrate until you're done, well, you might be waiting forever. Because seriously. Who gets it all done? (If you're getting it all done you don't need this advice anyway.)
For me focusing on success includes gazing expectantly at the two or three days clusters I've managed to stake out on my calendar where nothing is written. It tells me, "If I can make it through this week I'll get a break!"
9. Whistle while you work
Okay. You don't have to actually whistle, but do your best to enjoy the journey.
Because you can take your work oh-so-seriously with a furrowed brow, or you can loosen up and have some fun while you dig in.
Pete and I tend to laugh often when we work on a project together.
The time passes more quickly and before you know if the job is done.
Whatever your task – you choose if you get to enjoy the journey or simply suffer through.
10. Take a break
Please, please, please. Remember to rest.
Last night after two of the busiest, hardest working days we've seen in a while, Pete and I sat down and took a break.
We stopped working for the evening.
We had a nightcap, I did some knitting, we laughed.
You'll get more done if rest is on your to-do list.
And one last thought: This too shall pass.
These busy days won't last forever.
Do what you can to keep it in perspective and enjoy the crazy journey.
Dig in, work hard, laugh often, and know that soon this busy chapter will be just a fuzzy memory.
19 thoughts on “How to stay sane when your schedule gets manic.”
Thanks for the great tips and suggestions. . . certainly a busy time of the year for many of us.
Thanks for another great, useful and timely post. The gentle practicality, the honest truths and simplicity (as well as the knitting) all resonate.
I’m especially clinging to “Whatever your task – you choose if you get to enjoy the journey or simply suffer through.”
Thanks for the reminder.
How to stay sane when your schedule gets manic? Tea plus Clean/Rachel for just five minutes. Everything is now alright. xo to all you manic mamas out there!
Amazing advice. Thanks for sharing.
DEFINITELY need this post today. Too busy to read it now (ha!) but I will when I have a minute tonight or tomorrow. Thank you!
Yes, yes, yes. I so often find myself in this very place- and all that you say resonates with me!
That’s exactly what i needed today! Thank you!
It is all good stuff here – especially the “take a break” part…it makes all the difference.
I love reading about your adventures!
Of course I read this whilst in a manic time myself. Thanks for the reminder!
Oh…and it is always refreshing to know that other mamas/parents understand this feeling. Goodness. 🙂
Oh, how comforting to hear that I am not alone 🙂 I very much like your idea of the A list and B list.
Just what I needed! It’s getting manic-er and manic-er… The hardest parts are saying ‘no’ and getting enough rest! Thank you Rachel!
Missed you Rachel! We have been working on this very same thing.
Your posts never fail to hit home with me. Manic, that’s exactly how I have felt these past few months. I’m bookmarking this to come back to to read again and again.
That bit about laughing your way through is SO TRUE! My husband has been learning about how weight lifters who “make it look easy” can lift more than the ones that grit their teeth. This applies to SO MANY parts of life, huh? We’re also trying not to push as much…trusting that warmer weather will come again for planting the garlic or the dishes will just be easier to do w/a smile in the morning. Thanks for these important reminders.
This is such a great reminder. I’ve used many of these helps in past “manic” times, but the last few weeks have been a whole different kind of “manic” for our family, to the point that I’d forget to breathe if it weren’t automatic! I needed to read this today as I’m taking a rare empty day to “reset” myself and our household. Thanks for sharing!
Phew! Did I need a post like this! Two weeks ago I crashed, just crashed and am now simply following through with the commitments I made a month ago for this coming week. Sometimes, I just forget how quickly the schedule fills up. Things and events that ARE fun and worth doing become a chore. Great checklist!
All great advice! I especially like #6, Lower your Standards. this advice was given to me just before the arrival of my twins. they were born into an already busy household bustling with activity from their three older siblings and it helped me keep my sanity that first year of transition.
loves your advice, your courage and your citations !