Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: Step One

This entry is part 33 of 40 in the series Hope for Homemakers

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Alright, let’s get real here:

Last week I was definitely, definitely in survival mode.  I woke up Monday morning with a stiff neck and I just chalked it up to sleeping wrong.  It continued throughout the day and by the end of the day, I couldn’t move my neck without big pain.  I woke up Tuesday morning at 4:20 to get ready for Bible study and I still had the neck problem.  Thankfully, I got through leading our discussion (and I could move my neck so I could write on the board!).  But in the evening it got immensely worse and my entire neck and shoulder tightened up to the point where I could no longer move without intense pain.  I couldn’t get comfortable and nothing I was doing was making it better.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I knew there was no way I would survive the day with two little ones.  I couldn’t even pick up my baby.  I threw in the towel and asked for help from Gran and Grandpa.  They came in quickly and helped out by taking over for me for the day.  My mom did my dishes (the ones that had piled up because I couldn’t move without pain).  My mom ran the laundry for me.  My mom changed the sheets on our potty-training toddler’s bed.  My mom did it all, while I spent the day trying to relax, going to the chiropractor, and then getting a massage (anything for relief, right?).

Thursday morning was much the same and the few chores I attempted only worsened the situation.  I am still experiencing much of the same problem, but it comes and goes, so I can get a few things done and then need to rest and ice/heat it for a little while.

The thing about this situation is: life was going on.  My babies were still awake, active, and in need of my attention.  I was planning on hosting a play date at our home on Friday for Valentine’s Day.  I was planning on getting the house in some sort of presentable order by the time our friends arrived.  Dishes were still piling up and the laundry was still something that needed to be addressed.

And all I could do is sit on the sidelines and observe the to-do list growing ever longer.

So, I got out Crystal Paine’s latest book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and started reading chapter one.  The title of the chapter?  Stop Trying to do it ALL.  And I noticed that she was much in the same place I am.  Overwhelmed and physically sick due to the stress of life, the stress of trying to get it all done and then adding more to the to-do list.  I found a kindred spirit and I found a little bit of hope as I started reading about her journey.

She found a way out of the mess she was in and experiences more joy because she got sick and tired of gutting it out through the endless list of things to do.  She started creating “margin” in her days, breathing room for her well-being.  And she did it in four steps.  She:

  • Created a personal priorities list
  • Cleared the schedule clutter
  • Cut out time and energy suckers
  • Counted the costs of saying yes

I have been ruminating on a particular word for this stage of life I am in (and life in general, really) lately.  The word is:


Life just keeps moving on, every day, every minute.  There is no pause button for life.  It just keeps moving forward, ever forward.  The kids need me, the dishes pile up, the laundry continues, the chores need doing, and then need doing again. Dust gathers when I am not even looking.

And though I cannot hope to pause or even slow down time, I can begin to manage my time more wisely.  I can hopefully get to the point where the relentlessness of life doesn’t feel like an all-out assault on me physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I can, as Crystal says, “create margin,” breathing room for my days.

So, I sat down and wrote down my personal priorities list and I will be sharing it here on the blog in a few days, or when I get to it.  And I am going to begin working on the other steps to creating margin by setting limits, saying no, and counting the cost of each activity of my day.

Where are you in your homemaking journey?  Are you stuck in survival mode?  Are you feeling the pressures of life?  I would love to hear from you and be mutually encouraged on this journey.  Please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Many days I feel stuck in survival mode too. When will my house become organized? When will I stay caught up with the cleaning? Will my children ever sleep through the night (or at least not get up 3 times)? Since starting this book, I’ve tried to give myself more grace when it comes to doing EVERYTHING. I have a way to go in the journey out of survival mode, but a change of attitude has helped me see a glimmer of the other side.

    1. ussleah

      I am so glad that we can find hope from the stories of other women who are struggling to get it all done. It is about how we plan and how we look at our day. We “stand in grace” and we would do well to remember that, even inside our homes!

  2. Leslie

    LOVE the book! I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I am working my way through it with notes 🙂 It has really hit home on a lot of topics, even had me in tears some. Of course, I will blame that on pregnancy hormones 😉

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