This article is written by Shari Medini
For more on this topic, check out the full Work Life Balance collection
When life gets busy, it can be so hard to keep those little, yet important things from falling through the cracks! We start to switch into survival mode where only the most crucial tasks gets completed; and while this is totally normal, it is not ideal! We are often left feeling unfulfilled, out of touch, and guilty about all of those tasks that got put on the back-burner for far too long.
The reality is that life doesn’t ever really slow down. We can’t live our lives postponing things for the day when we aren’t busy - that day will never come.
There will always be another meal to cook, another appointment to schedule, another load of laundry to wash, another school form to sign, another party to plan, another meeting to attend, another extracurricular to drive to, another deadline to meet.
Is it tough to juggle it all? Yup! But this is what we signed up for, and we can’t just throw in the towel. It is normal to have really tough days, weeks, or even months; but it is also important to at least try to find solutions.
Staying on top of all of those smaller items is truly important to our health, happiness, relationships, and overall well-being! So what can we do about it?
We checked with our Adore Them community, and asked them about the things that tend to fall to the back-burner when their own lives get busy. Here are some of their answers along with potential solutions that may be able to spark inspiration in your own life!
Time with Friends/Family
Most people would agree that their friendships and family relationships should not be the ones to suffer when life gets busy, but in reality, they often do. The good thing is that our true loved ones are patience with us, and they forgive us after we resurface from a particularly busy chunk of time; but that isn’t necessarily fair to them! Here are a few ways to stay connected with the ones that you care about, even when you are busy:
- Invite friends to run errands with you. You have to go to the grocery store or Target anyway so why not invite a friend along (who also probably has to go shopping at some point in the near future as well!)
- Don’t be afraid to invite people to things last-minute. It can be hard to know how your family is going to be feeling at any given moment - will they be tired, hungry, sick, or involved with extracurriculars? It feels daunting to commit to things well in-advance, but how often do you find yourself with an hour or two of free time? Text those friends and invite them to the park or to the pizza place with you. Those kinds of spur of the moment activities can be the most enjoyable!
- Exercise with friends or family. Join the same gym, sign up for the same classes, or simply walk the same walking path together! The exercise itself will be more enjoyable, you will have an accountability partner, and you’ll get to knock out two birds with one stone.
- Short and quick updates work too! It can be sweet and meaningful to send your friends and family quick texts or leave voicemails letting them know that you are thinking about them. It doesn’t take a lot of time to send a thoughtful texts or ask how they are doing, and it can be surprisingly refreshing to have some mini friend conversations built into the rest of your hectic week.
It is important to understand that burnout is a very real and very difficult thing that will happen eventually if you don’t take care of yourself on a regular basis. Self care is the only way that you will be able to maintain your responsibilities to the best of your ability so it is time that we start prioritizing it a bit more!
- Set aside some time for self-reflection, and use this free printable to figure out what you actually need! Rest/Relaxation? Companionship? Expression? Health/Spiritually?
- Then you will also want to figure out what types of activities seem to recharge you. What relaxes you? What invigorates you? What makes you feel at peace? Everyone is unique in what works best for them.
- Keep in mind that self care doesn’t have to be extremely time-consuming. It doesn’t have to mean a full day at the spa or expensive retreats. It should be a regular, on-going practice in your daily schedule.
- Also, keep in mind that simplifying your lives can also be very beneficial and therapeutic. Go here for a variety of insights into simplying!
It can be hard to squeeze everything in and still get our kids (and ourselves) to bed at a reasonable hour. Of course, if we let bedtime fall to the back-burner, we all suffer! Everyone is cranky, tired, and less productive than they need to be so here are a few ways to help keep bedtime more consistent...
- A simple bedtime chart can help make the process go more smoothly for your kids (and for the parents)! It serves as a nice, visual reminder of the process; and helps to keep the routine consistent. You can print out your own version here!
- When life gets busy, it can be hard to keep track of the time! Before you know it, it is already past ideal bedtimes, and you haven’t even started the process. To help keep track of time, set an alarm on your phone so that it goes off at the same time each night telling you to start bedtime routines. You want this alarm to be for the beginning of the bedtime routine - not the time where you are hoping your kids are asleep
- Allot time for quiet, bonding activities. Trying to rush bedtime never works. Instead the kids fight it tooth and nail, and everyone ends up frustrated and awake instead of calm and asleep. It is worth scheduling in an extra 15 minutes into the bedtime routine to give your kids a chance to tell you stories, to ask them questions about their day, or to read extra stories together. Quiet, together-time can work wonders at bedtime!
Coming up with a laundry solution that works for you is key to staying on top of the laundry piles. The same strategies definitely don’t work for everyone - something that makes things feel simple for one person, may stress out another! Here are a few ideas that can help keep your living room from turning into laundry mountain:
- Schedule a laundry day. Commit to having one day each week be laundry day. You will know that that day you can get stuff done in between switching loads of laundry, but you will have to be home for a span of a couple hours to keep things moving along.
- Do one load of laundry each day. For some people, it feels less daunting to just do one load of laundry each day and be able to do it from beginning to end. Try to have a set schedule for this too - get home from work, put in a load, switch it to the dryer after dinner, get it out and fold it and put it away as you get the kids ready for bed.
- Go to a laundromat. If the laundry is really consistently piling up, would it make more sense to just go to a laundromat for 2 hours each week. You can throw all of your loads in at once (sheets, towels, clothes, etc), and then they will all be done at the same time! You could even take a book to read and turn it into some downtime, or take your laptop and get some work done.
- Give each family member their own laundry basket. Never mix the clothes so that you never have to sort them! This is the method that I use (and write more about here), and it helps me to know that I can wash my one son’s laundry beginning to end and know that all of his clothes are in that same spot together. Or if I need a certain shirt to wear, I can throw all of my laundry in and know it’ll be there instead of digging through multiple loads of laundry.
Nutrition and time together as a family are both very important parts of lives, but family meals are often one of the first things to suffer when schedules get crazy! It will always take effort to bring everyone together over a nutritious meal, but it is effort that will pay off - especially in the long-run. Here are a few ideas that might help family meal time happen more often:
- Decide what works for your family and assign responsibilities. Will you take turns cooking, or does one person love to cook, while the other will do the dishes afterwards? Will you have themed nights for meal-planning to help you brainstorm some ideas?
- There are a lot of creative meal kit options out there now! These services want to make it easier for you to cook a well-balanced meal for your family. Try out a few different ones and see what you like best.
- Streamline your process as much as possible. You could meal plan for the whole month in one sitting. You could spend one day a month cooking freezer meals. You can have a few go-to staples that are easy to make, and you can always have stocked in the house.
Making the most of your time is often about multi-tasking. How can I accomplish two important things at the same time? Can I get in some exercise, while spending time with friends or family, and also providing myself with some self-care? How can I make this fun and enjoyable instead of just feeling liking another chore or task to check off the to do list?
- Keep in mind that some exercise is better than no exercise. Walking for 20 minutes can still be beneficial, and you are much more likely to follow through with something regularly if it doesn’t feel so daunting.
- As we mentioned above, invite your friends to exercise with you. You can walk or jog much further while you are too busy chatting to notice how long you’ve been at it!
- There are many YouTube channels that offer great exercise videos for free. Whether you like Yoga or Hip Hop workouts, there is something for everyone.
- Suggest to your kids that you go play some sports together - soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball. As long as you are running around and having fun together… mission accomplished!
It is amazing how quickly a clean house can revert back to a messy one - especially if you have little kids running around! Trust me. I have been there - hoping that no one decides to just drop by and see that you wouldn’t even be able to walk through the living room. Part of handling this is having the realization that this just might be the stage of life you’re in right now.
JK Rowling really puts it best… “People very often say to me, ‘How did you do it, how did you raise a baby and write a book?’ And the answer is-I didn’t do housework for four years. I am not superwoman. And, um, living in squalor, that was the answer.”
However, there are always ways to help keep things a bit tidier around the house, and there are plenty of reasons for doing so! I know that myself and my children are in better moods and more productive when the house is clean, and it also allows us to invite friends over more often. So here’s a few tips for cleaning even when you’re schedule is packed!
- Something that can be a super helpful first step is getting organized and decluttering your home. If there is less to clean, and if everything has a spot, things won’t get so out of control so quickly. We have a whole bunch of tips to help you get organized here!
- Take note of all of those little cleaning tasks that only take a few minutes. Then the next time that you have 5-10 minutes before you have to leave the house, you could knock out a cleaning task or two. Cleaning the toilet or unloading the dishwasher really don’t take a lot of time, and it can help keep things manageable.
- Have your family help. It should not be solely your responsibility to keep things clean and organized. You may have to teach your family what to do and how to do it, but if you maintain consistency, it will definitely pay off!
- Have a basket in each area of the house where you can throw items that belong in other areas of the house. You might not always feel like putting the item back where it belongs, but it is super simple to throw it in the basket, and then put everything in its place at one time (or have your kids do it as a sort of reverse scavenger hunt!)
After reading through all of this, does it make you appreciate how much you expect yourself to do on a regular basis? I didn’t even touch on some other key points like saving money, navigating marriage, or managing childcare options! We take on A LOT, and it is not surprising that we feel overwhelmed. So while we can use tips and strategies to help streamline, organize, and manage everything; we also need to keep tabs on how much we are actually expecting of ourselves. We need to always be conscious of what a true work-life balance actually looks like, and then figure out how to get there!
For more on this topic, check out the full Work Life Balance collection