How to handle a busy time when you are burning the candle at both ends.
We all have those weeks where everything is squeezed in and there isn’t room to breathe, much less care for yourself and others. How can you survive those weeks when you have a million things that must get done and not enough hands on deck?
My dad always used to say “when it rains it pours” and it seems that in my life, that always tends to be true. There are weeks where everything goes according to plan and I even have a little time to squeeze in some exercise and cook healthy meals and then there are weeks where I feel like I barely have time to eat or sleep.
How can we survive those weeks?
If Possible, Avoid Overscheduling.
I know, some things are not in our control, so if you can, make sure the things that are in your control are managed. If you already have a lot of appointments or commitments one week, either drop the appointments/commitments that aren’t mandatory or give yourself a maximum that you won’t exceed.
For example, my six year old is currently at a sports practice every Monday/Wednesday/Friday and at a game on Saturday morning. For the time being, I am not adding anything to our schedule on a Tuesday/Thursday or Sunday to protect our family time. If something does come up that we’d like to do, we will have to decide what to drop to accommodate it. We have had way too many weeks where we were committed to something every day of the week and we all were cranky tired messes by the end of the week. We no longer do that.
Before you commit to something that isn’t mandatory, take a look at what you have on your plate and decide if you can fit it in. Does your caree have several medical appointments or physical therapy appointments this week? Perhaps this isn’t the week to schedule an appointment with the hairdresser. Or, if one of the appointments is a follow-up or check up on a non-urgent matter, consider pushing it to the following week, provided you are inside the cancellation window.
Not everything is within our control when we are caring for others, so whenever you have the opportunity, make it fit into your schedule.
If you are in a situation where you can’t move things around and you are running from one appointment/activity to another, do everything you can to prepare yourself ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling. I have different bags for different activities that I keep stocked so that all I need to do is grab the correct bag and go.
For example, I have a “soccer” bag that has all of my son’s equipment, his uniform, sunscreen, snacks and activities for my youngest son. I also have a “swim” bag that has swimming clothes, extra plastic bags for wet clothes a towel and water shoes. We just need to grab and go.
Can you do something similar for yourself or your caree? If you are taking your parent to physical therapy, can you have a tote with tools they’ll need for therapy and things to occupy you while you wait in the lobby? I sometimes take my planner and flyers I’ve accumulated with me when I’m waiting at a medical appointment so that I can enter items on my calendar and make my to do list. I have also taken my checkbook and bills with me to knock out bill paying. Create a little mobile office that you can take when you are waiting around at your caree’s appointments so that you don’t have to do those things in the evenings when you are exhausted.
Don’t Scrimp on Self-Care.
I know, it seems insane to consider taking care of yourself when you barely have a minute to breathe, but it will be far easier to survive the week if you at least try the following:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat as well as possible. I have some healthy eating hacks that you can try. There are many portable healthy items that you can throw in your bag – from fruit to string cheese. You can also try my three minute smoothie. Everyone can squeeze in 3 minutes!
- Keep moving. You don’t need to get an hour gym session in, but at least try to walk around the block a time or two or park as far as you can so you are forced to get some extra steps into your day. I don’t have a step tracker, but the popularity of them has made me more aware of how little or how much I walk.
- Try to fit in enjoyable activities to feed your soul. Whether you enjoy watching your favorite show, reading or scrapbooking, try to incorporate that into your week so that it doesn’t feel like your life is all about drudgery. If you are constantly giving, you need to also set aside some joy for yourself to help stave off burnout.
How do you get through a hectic week?