A few weeks ago I got a comment from a friend who was feeling overwhelmed and like her work in the home is just plain pointless sometimes. And my heart went out to her!
Last week I addressed the first part of her question: When Your Work Just Doesn’t Feel Worthwhile. In that episode I addressed the heart aspect of it. And today, I want to address the practical parts of her question. Where can you turn to for help when life seems overwhelming?
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Here’s her question:
“Jami, I’ve really been struggling with something lately, and was hoping you’d have some advice for me. Lately, I’ve been so tired. Just tired of the everyday. I get up and feed the kids, then the baby, then do laundry, dishes, a bit of school work, change diapers, feed everyone lunch, and so on and so on. It feels like 80% of my time is spent dealing with feeding my family whether it’s prep, cooking, eating with them, or cleaning up afterwards. I go to bed dreading the next day because I think “I have to get up in 7 hours just to do all this again”. Seriously, I am missing the point here. I don’t feel like I am doing important work, and when I consider the possibility that what I’m doing is important, I don’t think I’m doing it right. I mean most days I’m lucky if I get any work done at all or the kids get a bath that night. Sometimes it’s several days before they get another one. I know that’s not super important but I think it get the point across a bit more. If this all makes sense, please help me see the point or bigger picture in all this drudgery!”
I think she has a lot of different emotions and feelings going on in this question (which is why I’m taking two whole podcasts to address it). So we are going to discuss a few different things.
Make sure you are taking care of yourself
This is one of the first things that stands out to me from what she said. She’s tired, tired, tired. I have been there so many times over the past few years that I have been so so wiped out simply because I’m not taking care of myself the way I should. I used to be able to get by without a lot of exercise and not eating well. But after five babies and getting older…I NEED to take care of my physical needs.
And the last three months I’ve actually been eating really well. I’ve been making myself eat more vegetables, fish, and actually sit down for lunch. This simple act has already had a big impact on my energy levels and how I feel.
When I’m done breastfeeding, Jason and I are going to do this 12 day herbal cleanse. He did it already back in January and loved it (it even helped him lose weight)!
And as I type this, I am SHOCKED to admit that Magnolia is now over three months old and I haven’t worked out once since she was born. Wowza! So this is a big thing I am going to try to work into my schedule more the next few months. I know my body needs it and my energy will eventually thank me for it. I have Lindsay Brin’s Post Natal Slimdown that I did after my second set of twins and LOVE it!! I’ve also heard wonderful things about Trim Healthy Mama’s new workout DVD’s!
Set some goals in your home
It is seriously discouraging when you are aimless in our home. When you wonder around, just keeping up on things. It’s easy to feel discouraged and like you are not working towards anything. So I like to set goals, even if it’s cleaning goals or reading goals.
Setting goals helps me to keep track of things, cross things off a list, and actually feel like I’m accomplishing some things. It can be so discouraging when we move from one task to another and when our head hits the pillow at night, we feel like we got nothing done that day.
If you are feeling this way, I want to encourage you to start keeping track of what you do throughout the day. Set a few goals: “Today I will clean up the kitchen, clean both bathrooms, and spring clean the linen closet”. <— This doesn’t sound super exciting, but just keeping track of things like this and checking them off a list, can help you remember what you’ve done and actually feel like you are making some progress!
Simplify meal prep time
This is the other biggest thing that stands out to me from her question: She’s spending a HUGE amount of time in the kitchen. And I get it, it takes so much time to keep the kitchen clean and prep and cook three meals a day (plus snacks)! I don’t know about you, but it often feels like my five kids never stop eating!!!
So it can be demoralizing to spend 80% of our time in the kitchen and feel like we have little to show for it. So first thing to do, is keep track of your time on any given day and actually find out where you spend the majority of your time in the kitchen during the day. Is it actually during prep time, is it doing the dishes, is it scrubbing pots and pans after? Depending on how you run your kitchen, the answer might be different for each of us, so here’s a few different suggestions.
Prep Breakfast the night before
I’ve had a hard time with breakfast in the past. I’m NOT a morning persona and I’ve often been so overwhelmed when I wake up to five screaming kids who are all hungry for breakfast.right.now! Doing a little prep the night before and having meals ready I can pull out cuts down on breakfast prep AND clean up time after. (BONUS tip: If you can get up before your kids, this helps with breakfast time even more)!
Here are a few make ahead breakfast recipe ideas:
- Overnight, no-cook refrigerator oatmeal (It’s really easy to make a week’s worth of these in about 30 minutes!)
- Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread (I like to make four loaves (two batches) of this bread at once and keep it in the freezer for easy breakfasts)
- Whole Wheat Blueberry Waffles (this is a SUPER easy recipe to bake and throw in the freezer)
- Easy Egg Sausage Burritos (these get a little soggy coming out of the freezer, but they have a great taste and work well for easy breakfasts or dinners!)
- Breakfast Casserole Bites
Simplify Your Dishes
A big part of feeling like you are spending all your time in the kitchen is doing endless dishes. Like I said, Magnolia is three months old and we are still using paper plates most of the time. It just cuts down a lot of time spent doing dishes and cleaning. Here’s a few ideas for simplifying your dishes:
- Use paper plates (I’m a HUGE fan of this – especially for when you have people over!)
- Make more one pot meals so you only have one main pot or dish from dinner to clean
- Try to clean up meals immediately following the meal instead of letting it pile up to do later
- Give everyone one cup for the day. If they want anything to drink, they use their cup!
One Pot Meal Ideas:
- Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan
- Easy Beef Burrito Skillet
- One pan crispy parmesan garlic chicken with veggies
- One pot burrito bowls
- One pot lasagna soup
Utilize Freezer Cooking
Freezer cooking literally changed my life when I discovered it. I can’t even express how much time, energy, and money it has saved me over the years. A couple of weeks ago, I did two freezer cooking days and put 30 slow cooker meals into the freezer. Several of these slow cooker meals so far have lasted us multiple nights. With two days of work and cooking, I have 30+ days off of cooking dinner.
You have no idea how freeing this is to my schedule. I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner, what we will eat, going to the store to get ingredients, setting side time to cook, AND clean up is simple: I was the crockpot! Pair that with paper plates and for 30+ days, dinner time is nothing!!
Here are a few resources for you:
- Hf #6: Freezer cooking and your homemaking
- My postpartum freezer cooking plan (NOT just for postpartum!)
- Freezer cooking methods
AND if you need a little help in your meal planning, you HAVE to check out my very favorite meal planning website: Build a Menu! <— Come watch my video peek inside how it works.
Build in some rewards and perks to your day
Ladies…some days are really boring. Yes, we ultimately need to find our identity, our joy, and our worth in the LORD (see last week’s episode). But there are also good times to build in little rewards or perks into your day. I have a hard time motivating myself to work around the house when it seems futile.
So I’ll build in little rewards for myself. For example, if I’m in the middle of a killer fiction book I want to read, then I will write a list of everything I need to get done that day, and build in 15 minute reading rewards for myself. So if I work hard and get the kitchen all cleaned up after breakfast, my reward is 15 minutes of reading.
Then I force myself back up to tackle the next thing on my to do list and then 15 more minutes of reading. Honestly, sometimes the “reward” I use to motivate myself is a long hot shower! Whatdever it is, find a few things that are motivating and encouraging to you that you can use to keep going and stay motivated! (AND this is a big part of investing in yourself!)
Remember that the days are long but the years are short
And finally weary mama, remember that the days are long but the years are short. These days are so so so long. We are exhausted, worn out, and left wondering WHY we are doing dishes for the hundredth time today?
These kids will grow up, we will miss their laughter, we might even miss the piles of laundry and dishes, the noise, and the activity. We need to remember to be thankful for the FULL house he has given us right now, even when days are tough.
And we HAVE to keep the Gospel in view. We have to remember that yes dear mama, some days are really really tough…and on those days, we have to cling to JESUS. We have to hide our hope in Christ.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Colossians 3:1-4
I love this encouragement from Gloria Furman from her book, Missional Motherhood:
“Sister, we have died, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. We are not our own. Our children are not our own. Our homes are not our own. Our stuff is not our own. Nothing is our own. It’s all his and for his glory. And that’s the incredible reality we get to wake up to every day. Let’s help each other remember!”
Resource of the Week:
Finding Joy in Your Home – Free eCourse!
If you need some help with the practical aspects of finding more joy in your home, morning and evening routines, or how to find the time to read the Bible then I want to invite you to go through my FREE eCourse, Finding Joy in Your Home – Essential Habits for Christian Homemakers.