How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Up

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Every mother has moments in her life when she feels like there is no way she can keep up with everything she needs or wants to do.

I’m having one of those moments.

In fact, I don’t even want to keep up!  I told you on Friday I am hibernating and that has a lot to do with it.  I could care less what’s happening on the internet and I wish my emails would take care of themselves (as in disappear), I’ve become a lumbering bear and I often find myself just sitting…not reading, not cross-stitching, not writing or daydreaming…just sitting.  And sometimes, I just lay down because sitting is too much work.

However, as I sit here typing this post (yes, I am sitting, but might need to lay down afterward), I realize there are a few things in life that must go on even when mama doesn’t feel like she can keep up with it all.  Some plates get dropped, but some must continue to spin in some fashion.

Here are my thoughts on how to keep going without keeping up with your normal A-game...

*Meals – While I love perusing my Recipes board on Pinterest and adding all the yummy things I have pinned there to my menu list, there is no way this fits into the Keep Going pile.  My menu for the next two weeks is simple, simple, simple.  Lots of crock pot meals, lots of 3-5 ingredient meals, lots of the-kids-can-make-this meals.  There is no reason to Keep Up with my normal menu routine when a simplified version will suffice.

*School – Every day, I decide what I think I can handle and let the rest go.  How I feel physically changes on a daily basis, so I have to be willing to adapt.  When you are in Keep Going mode, you have to accept limitations as part of your day.  Take school in bite-sized pieces, only chewing as much as you can handle each day.

*Cleaning – Focus on the basics.  Dusting can wait.  Your house will not implode from a layer of dust.  Use paper products to lighten your kitchen load and get the kids involved in keeping the house tidy.  A little bit of tidy goes a long way when you can’t seem to Keep Up with it all.

*Outside Communication & Matters of Import – While I would love to stop answering the phone and delete every email in my inbox, there are still important things I have to attend to.  When it comes to figuring out how to Keep Going with these important things breathing down your neck, the best solution I’ve found is a list.  I don’t even prioritize the list.  I just write it.  I also give myself permission to NOT answer phone calls that aren’t truly important and DELETE emails that really don’t need my attention.  I sort of drop off the face of the earth when it comes to anything EXTRA.  The trick here is being HONEST with yourself about what is extra and what really does need your attention.  Can’t figure it out for yourself?  Ask your husband.

*Outside Activities – Sadly, we aren’t always issued early warning before we realize we can’t Keep Up.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle much come January 1st, so I cut off all outside activities for the month of January and early February.  But, if you aren’t allowed this kind of foresight, you have to find a way to get rid of the guilt and pare down the outside activities.  Outside activities take up a lot of time and energy and really have no place in the Keep Going phase of life.  Let them go until you can Keep Up.

So, there you have it…my guilt-free, sit-and-relax, baby-will-come-eventually B game.  I’ll Keep Going, because I have no other choice, but you won’t find me Keeping Up.  Turn around and wave at me every now and then.  I’ll eventually get up and join you.


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21 thoughts on “How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Up

  1. I hear where you are coming from, Amy! I am having one of those moments as well. No incoming baby – just eight children from 15 years down to 15 months and a really busy year just over. My energy is AWOL, but just as you say, you hunker down, get through and know you’ll come out the other side. In our house we love the old English saying – “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Warm wishes to you for the safe birth of your wee one. You are an inspiration and a great internet support.

  2. Sometimes you just have to stop and take care of you. I know the end of this pregnancy is harder than any of the others. I find myself sleeping more and being awake at odd hours for me. I was awake at 3 am and then 5 am this morning. So I finished my grocery list so I could shop later with my husband. This will last us two weeks. We will have some form of school and my older two are prepared to do what they can. Like you the meals are simple, breakfast and lunch are even simpler so I don’t have to think and they can be made by my older children. As I told my family last night, Baby will be here on God’s time, I just may be napping when it starts.

  3. Amy, keep going you are doing a great job. Being able to recognize and pair down what you can do and take it in bite size chunks helps a lot. I know how you feel. Today, I was up early because our youngest was up, so now I’m tired, but it’s almost time for everyone else to begin showing their faces. I have planned that they will each complete one small thing for school that they can work on by themselves and we are hoping to do science today as well. I have a meal to put in the crock-pot and I told a neighbor she could come over and play (public school starts back tomorrow). I don’t know if she’ll show up, but I have to be prepared for that. Otherwise I can do whatever I feel up to for the rest of the day.

  4. Just know, I am praying for you almost constantly – I am sure others are also. Love You my dear sister.

  5. I am in recovery from my first C-section after four natural births. I “began the year” needing to surrender lots of my ideals about the way babies enter the world, and I have to say– like all things, God has used this humbling for my GOOD. I find myself feeling tender, needful of God’s mercy, and softened as I enter the new year.

    I have to say, it was lovely to discover that when you have a baby on New Year’s Eve (Yea!), the idea of making resolutions goes right out the window.

    I’ve decided to be rooted to home, to be gentle with everyone (including me!), and to make flexibility and grace the “resolutions” for the time being.

    It has been a pleasure to read about your homeward-focus during the latter stages of your pregnancy, and your “hibernation.” I often say to my husband that I sometimes wish the world would just stop for 8 weeks and let me anticipate and then enjoy the newest baby. So, this time I’m trying to claim that for myself. Less activity, more acceptance of help, gentleness about the fact that I feel rather fragile, and more answering machine as I gaze at this baby girl. :)

    In addition, this time around I got “over” my frugal guilt about paper plates, cups, and bowls, and bought a SLEW of them for the next month. Not running the dishwasher three times a day has been one of the kindest things I have ever done for myself. So, I second your ideas about EASY meals and simplified homekeeping.

    Be blessed. I am just loving snuggling baby this fifth time around. Participating in a miracle– what a blessing from God!

  6. Thank you, Amy. This was exactly what I needed to read after being in the hospital with Samuel all last week. I’m looking at Christmas decorations still in the boxes sitting out from me rushing out the door – still waiting for me to take care of them – and yet, I’m choosing to do simple things, simple steps. Bless you for your words.
    Rachel

  7. Been there just this fall. Not because of a baby, but because of illness. It was sooo hard to let go of my traditions and ideals for the holidays, to let other people come in my less-than-perfect house and help with my kids. But I know God was showing me that what I think is important isn’t necessarily that important, to humble me, to slow me down and show me how to lean on Him instead of myself. Praying for you and your little one!

  8. Oh Amy, what a timely message. I’m not keeping up right now either, and i am nearly falling apart at the seams. I have been overwhelmed from holiday travels, and other interruptions to our daily routine… Thanks for reminding me that its ok to just keep a B game sometimes! I’ve been whipping myself (you know, the mantra in the head “you’re not getting enough done, you’ve fallen behind you’ll never get ahead” etc…) And the whipping leaves me exhausted… I woke up this morning determined to keep my cool, and do my best. So far, so good. Thankfully. I was pretty tested when my eldest woke up with another bad attitude! But I sent him to his room to think of things he was thankful for, and read his bible, until he could emerge with a good attitude. The rest of the day has gone smoothly.

    Even got some school done, along with some laundry and working in the kitchen. yay. I might catch up in a week. And that’s all I have before the whole thing gets thrown out the window again, because of in-residence company!

    Can’t wait to hear about that baby’s birth. I’ve been praying for you!! God bless.

  9. Regarding outside activities, here is my concern… that I am not doing enough to get the kids out of the house and doing physical activity, socializing, and that i am generally keeping them unnaturally cooped up….how do you handle that problem when you are just trying to keep afloat? I struggle with feeling guilty. When I am just trying to Keep Going outside activities are the first to go.

    Actually, with my kids being pretty young (6, 4 and 1), and homeschooling our day goes like this: wake up, get everyone whatever it is they need, do some housework while kids play, tend to more needs and demands, home school for my eldest for an hour or two, feed them a snack mid-morning, do more housework while they play, feed them lunch, and then its nap time. My husband gets home shortly after they wake from naps and he likes us to be here when he arrives and likes dinner early, so we do that and then clean up from dinner, then family rosary/bible reading and prayers, and then bedtime. There seems to be almost no time for outside activities because of naps especially. If we do anything it has to be in the morning or it doesn’t happen. And if we do things in the morning, home school does not happen.

    Not only do my kids need naps after lunch, apparently I need to rest too. I find myself totally worn out by lunchtime. I don’t know how other moms do it… they go out at whatever time of day and the kids nap in the car if need be. How do they have that much energy??

    Anyone have some advice on this? What am I doing wrong?

  10. Same thing here! only doing whats necessary, letting my 4 year old make easy breakfast/lunches, resorting to paper products..we cut out co-op and piano lessons for the month..I will be 38 weeks tomorrow..i have 3 kids age 4 and under right now. my only problem is being so short of breath and faint that i can’t stand up for more than a minute (sometimes walking across the kitchen is too much) without feeling faint..my eyes have actually been going blurry. it’s been a rough last few weeks! thankfully my husband has been doing laundry and cooking after work and on weekends. hoping this baby gets here soon..yours too!

  11. I don’t think I ever quite hit that point of “I can’t cook or do the dishes” exactly (or I haven’t in my other pregnancies), but I definitely want email and all people who need me to go away!

    Right now I am 31 weeks and have lots of energy still, and I am taking advantage. I cleaned and vacuumed most of the house today (probably the last time the low-traffic areas will be vacuumed, at least by me, before baby comes), started thinking about a plan to get meal components in the freezer, and *finally* started sewing the diapers I want done. I feel pressed for time already and I have 9 weeks, give or take. But I know I’ll hit a point towards 37 – 38 weeks where I won’t be able to do much anymore so I am doing what I can now. Having the meal components in the freezer to simplify that was so helpful with #3 so I am doing it again. Anyone can “cook” for us or I can just flop cheese, fruit, and leftover meat on kids’ plates.

    I’m getting rid of extra stuff too and setting up my changing areas and the kids’ school stuff now so that’s super easy too when things slow down. I pared the playroom down to about four “main” toys plus some books so they can’t really mess it up too much. I’m all about making things easier!

    I have also planned to take almost all of March and April off from blogging. I have contributors and guest posters covering most of it and have requested all posts be in by Mar. 1. I’ll be getting all my own posts done by then or before as well so that if I feel like blogging, I can — but I’m not feeling pressed at all to have to. I’m sure by the end of April (baby’s due mid-March) I will be raring to go again!

    And you know, stuff will wait. People will wait. When you are THAT close to have a baby or in the early weeks postpartum, people know how it is. It’s busy, and family comes first. Not too long now! :)

  12. Thank you Amy! Very freeing and relieving to know that I’m not alone in these times. Thank you for the grace you’ve just shared in letting us into your life in this aspect! xxx

  13. You know, Amy, you are such a blessing!

    As I was beginning my new blog account, and thinking of blogs to add to my reader, one of the few “necessary” blogs I felt I couldn’t do without was yours!
    Even though I do not have a large family, I can so relate to not keeping up since I have chronic health issues and homeschool.

    I feel as if I am on permanent catch-up mode, (or should that be ketchup:)

    I hope you get plenty of rest in preparation for your new little one’s arrival!

  14. I really wish, as moms, we’d give ourselves permission to do this more often. I’m also hibernating for the entire month of January. I’ve chosen to be largely anti-social. You know what? It’s FANTASTIC.

  15. After homeschooling four children into adulthood, and a fifth still at home, I found I was low on vitamin D and iron. Get a blood test and get a copy or the results so you can see for yourself. If you measure a 12 when the range is 10-291, for ferratin, take some iron. I bought some non irritaing suppliments. Just because healthcare doesn’t want to admit you are too low, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. I felt so much better. When you are tired, it wears on you in many ways. I feel so much better. I met another homeschool mom with the same low level iron, and her Dr said it would take 6 months for her hair to grow back. Gee, I’ve had hair loss since my first child was born. I wish I had realized this when I was in my 20’s, not my 50’s.