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HELP! I Can't Take it Anymore!

Or...How to lighten the load and prevent burnout.

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"I've been cooped up in this house for months, I'm getting further and further behind. The house is getting messier and messier...how can I possibly accomplish everything that needs doing? Will I ever have time for myself again? I'm a mom, a teacher, a wife, a cook, a housekeeper, a launderer, a taxi driver... Aahhhhh!!!"

Many of us begin feeling this way at this time of the year. It has been a long school year and we still have a long way to go before summer.

First, take a deep breath. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down everything that's bothering you. Take your time. Now, categorize these things. Go over the list and number by importance.

What things can be eliminated? What things can you delegate? Are you having the kids and your husband help with the chores? Even little ones can learn to pick up and put things away.

Take steps to lighten your load.

  • Set aside time for yourself and your spouse. Get a sitter and get out once a week or at least twice a month.
  • Set bedtimes for the kids and stick with them...leave at least a few minutes for you and your spouse to unwind and spend alone.
  • Do a morning quick pick up of the house before you start school and start a load of laundry.
  • Have an afternoon chore time when everyone has their own jobs to do.

I do a morning pick up, what I call "M/M" (minimum maintenance - spend only up to 5 minutes in each room - I got it from some housekeeping book I read years ago) and start a load of laundry.

Each day of the week, I spend more time in a room or group of rooms, doing the heavier cleaning...here's my schedule:

  • Monday - Living room (our family room) - spend time in here to recoup from the weekend
  • Tuesday - Clean bathrooms (toilets, sinks, tubs, mirrors, floor)
  • Wednesday - Clean bedrooms (dust, vacuum, change bedding, mirrors)
  • Thursday - Clean kitchen (of course do dinner dishes every night. On this day do the extras like clean stove, refrigerator, floor, etc.)
  • Friday - Living room again (we spend a lot of time in this room)

If I don't get to something...maybe didn't mop the kitchen floor on the designated day...it just gets put off until the next kitchen cleaning day - no guilt, no trying to fit it in the next day...just put it off.

Each family has their own unique set of circumstances and everyone has to set up their own schedule...what works for some won't work for others. Start with a schedule, try it out, adjust as you see fit. But you need a plan to start with. Brainstorm, have your spouse and children brainstorm with you.

So, ask yourself: Are you trying to do too much? Are you over committed outside the home? Are there things you need to step down from doing? Are there hobbies that are frustrating you because you don't have time for them anymore? There are seasons of life...and during THIS season, we have kids to raise and teach, that is our primary job and we need to accept it and make it a priority and clear our consciences of guilt feelings.

This was a pep talk for you to get you thinking...it will be followed over the next few weeks with some hands on practical things that might be of help to you. Feel free to post suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed.

More to come on this feature...

Unsympathetic Public School Teacher A letter to the editor from a public school teacher in response to my feature "Help! I Can't Take it Anymore."

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