Despite our best efforts we all sometimes find ourselves with a life in chaos. Whether it’s something expected like the holidays or a new baby tipping the scales. Or something completely unexpected like a health event, catastrophe, or loved one in need, the result is the same. We suddenly find ourselves with far too much to do and not nearly enough time or energy. For a variety of reasons this has occurred in my life many times so I wanted to share some of my best practical tips for navigating a life in chaos. These tips will work for both expected and unexpected events and help you find peace in the storm.
Accept and Ask for Help
You may believe that it will be easier for you to simple buckle down and get it done. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Maybe the situation that put you over the edge is something only you can handle (like a big project at work, or an illness) but there are a million other things you could use a hand with. Support with the day to day or mundane tasks can free up your time and energy to focus on the big stuff only you can do. It’s ok to ask others for meals, home help, transportation for yourself or the kids, laundry help and so much more. Let go of your pride and particularity about how and when it happens. Done is better than done your way or perfection in times like this. Let people show up for you! Ask people to show up for you! You may just be surprised to discover that this is not a burden but an excellent way of deepening your connections.
It’s easiest to prepare for both the expected and unexpected in advance so I’ll be sharing ways to do this throughout this post. When things are quiet and you have the bandwidth you can do future you a huge favor by doing some of these prep tips.
Prepare to ask for and accept help in two ways. First, make it a priority to stay connected (or get connected). I like to do this by putting a reminder in my phone to reach out. Next, make a list of all the things you do and highlight anything you could ask for or accept help with. I like to color code my list because there are things I could easily ask for and others I’d only accept or request help with from certain people or in very severe circumstances.
If you can, if it is at all possible, hire help! This can be done in many ways. You could simply order grocery pick up or delivery, subscribe to a meal service or send out your laundry or go all in and hire in home care providers such as nanny’s, housekeepers, or even home health aids.
While some of these options may be cost prohibitive others are not. Grocery and meal services, for example, may even save you money in the long run. Choosing a service that provides ready made meals or pre prepped, easy to cook meals will likely keep you from ordering out. You’ll get higher quality, more nutritious meals for pennies on the dollar. And the better nourished you are the more energy you’ll have.
Do a little research now. Ask for referrals and coupon codes for meal services and laundry services (social media can be very helpful with this). Find out what services (like grocery delivery) are available in your area and install the apps now (even if you don’t use them). And, get a list of home care providers and their phone numbers as well. It can also be helpful to find out how much each of these options costs so you can budget for them if needed. Remember, you aren’t making a commitment to using any of these, you’re simply getting the information so you have it if you need it.
Switch to Paper
Reduce cleaning and household demands by making some simple adjustments to your work load. Things like switching to paper products and not matching socks or folding pajamas may seem small but they add up. If you’d like to learn more tips to make your routine household management easier be sure to check out the book How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis. If your life is in chaos right not it might seem crazy to try to add reading a book to your to-do list. But this book is a true gem in that it’s a quick read and has a life in chaos reading format to help you gather all the tips as quickly as possible without having to read the entire thing!
Stock your house with easy to use and dispose of items. In addition, consider working toward the most equitable division of household labor and make sure others in your home know how to do the necessities. In addition, it can be helpful if you’re expecting a big change to prepare by pre-making and freezing meals, and simplify some of your general household management. It’s much easier to make choices about what really matters when you’re not living life in chaos than when you are. If you’d like to learn more about how to share the load or reduce overwhelm and take control of your home be sure to check out my Take Control of Your Home unit in the Take Control of Your Life Course Series in Inner Circle.
Several years ago my family went through a profound crisis. One of our children unexpectedly ended up hospitalized for suicidal ideation. To this day I’m so grateful that we discovered this and were able to get them treatment before something more catastrophic happened. But this led to years of fear, research, and additional services. It was an enormous task to juggle physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, in that first month I could think of nothing else, which meant, all the bills got paid late. Yep, it turns out that even when the most horrific or scary things happen, bills still need to get paid. I’m sure this goes without saying and it may seem like something that couldn’t possibly be forgotten but believe me, it can!
That’s when I decided that all our bills needed to be paid online, (preferably autopay). And after many long nights away from home I also realized everything and I mean EVERYTHING needed to be accessible through my phone. This saved me so much searching and stress and it also saved me a lot of time managing unnecessary papers. Not only that but it ended up earning me free plane tickets, upgrades, and platinum airline status (just by paying my bills). I explain exactly how to do this without the risk of overdrafts in my Take Control of Your Money Course (again… in Inner Circle).
This can be easily set up in advance so you don’t have to worry about it when life gets hectic. Simply go online to your debtors websites and set up your autopay. You can also reduce paper clutter by stopping all your junk mail. This will help prevent mailbox clutter if you happen to forget to collect your mail while caught up in the whirlwind.
Prepare for Pockets
One of my superpowers has always been being prepared for pockets. Because the truth is, with 5 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 businesses getting dedicated time to take care of tasks is tough. Even on the best of days it’s pretty chaotic. To better cope with a relatively typical life in chaos utilizing the small, available chunks of time matters. This means tidying or even cleaning the bathroom while the kids are playing in the bath, prepping lunches or tomorrow’s meal while tonight’s cooks, and yes… when my bills were paper they got paid during dance classes and soccer practice (this is also when I reviewed school folders, sorted mail, signed permission slips and so much more). This doesn’t mean you want to fill every hour of the day. Utilizing these pockets of time during busy seasons will help you keep up with the odds and ends of life. And utilizing them during more calm seasons will free up some bigger chunks of time for the fun stuff.
Set yourself up for success by ensuring you’re prepared to use those pockets of time. Ensure that you have necessary cleaning products in every room, have a meal plan and shop in advance, and pack a, on the go task bag with stamps, envelopes, check-book, pens, etc.
Rest, Rest, & More Rest
I know you’re busy and I know it might seem like the best place to get more time is by sleeping less but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The time you get from cutting back on sleep is actually detrimental. First off, what you gain in time you’ll lose in energy. But it’s so much worse than that. You’ll also be more prone to accidents and injury, and you’ll struggle with brain fog and difficulty concentrating which will make it nearly impossible to get anything done (well at least). Prioritize sleep and take breaks as needed. It might seem like a waste of time but you’ll be so much more efficient and productive in your active hours that it’s well worth it.
Create a bedtime routine that will help you fall asleep quickly and sleep restfully. In addition, be sure to create distraction free spaces in your home where you can take small breaks and catch your breath.
Self-care doesn’t have to take a weekend, a day, or even an hour. Taking a short walk, enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, or simply washing your face can make a huge difference. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup but that doesn’t mean it will always be completely full or you’ll have the time or energy to completely fill it. It’s ok to simply top it off a bit so you don’t run dry. And, every little bit helps. When you have a life in chaos making an intentional effort to get even 5 minutes of self-care a day is truly beneficial.
When you’re in the thick of it it might be tough to think of ways to practice self-care so make it as easy as possible. Start a list of quick things you can do to recharge and top off your cup. To simplify further create a self-care basket or box with some of your favorite, quick and easy to use self-care items.
It’s Not Too Late
If you’re currently feeling like you’re living a life in chaos and you’re not sure how to get your head above water take a deep breath. It’s never too late (or too early) to set start implementing these tips. Pick the one you think will be easiest or most helpful and get going. They may take some effort or a few minutes to set up and start implementing but they’ll pay off big time!