Routines to Help the Weary Mom

Written by Beth Corcoran, Contributing Writer

I know a lot about exhaustion.  In fact, as I write this, my family is on the mend from the flu.  While I may not have the fever and chills anymore, two weeks of the flu spreading through our family has left me one tired Momma!

But you don’t need to have the flu to be exhausted.  Whether the cause is sickness, adrenal fatigue, depression, chronic illness, or having a new baby, exhaustion can take its toll on all areas of life.  One area of life that seems to really suffer when we are exhausted is home upkeep.

Thankfully, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) a few tips and routines that keep your home functioning when you are under the weather.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have learned a few things through experience, mentors, and great books.

What To Do When You Are Already Exhausted

When your home is already showing signs of your exhaustion, it may seem like things will never get better.  I assure you, they can get better!  But, when you are exhausted or sick, it is not really a good time to implement new or intensive cleaning routines. It is better to take things slowly and do as many small things as possible.  Those small tasks will add up and make a huge difference.

First of all, pray, pray, pray!  God was serious when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.” (Matthew 11:28).  God may not choose to take away your exhaustion immediately.  But we are to lean on Him during our trials.

One great tip I’ve learned is to try to shower and dress each morning before the kids get up.  We all feel better facing the day with fresh clothes and hair.

My biggest tip is to identify three areas in your home that bother you (or your husband) most when they get out of control.  For me, our three biggest problem areas are laundry, the dishes in the kitchen, and my bedroom.  If any of those three areas get out of control, it is likely to actually make me and my family all feel worse.

After you have identified your problem areas, give yourself temporary permission to focus your energy on just those areas.  For example, when I had the flu and could hardly get off the couch, I at least made sure that the laundry was getting washed each day.  It is important to see this as only temporary, though, because this arrangement would not help you out long term.

Finally, consider ways that you can add some convenience to your routines while you are sick and tired.  Is there something extra that you are doing that you can give up for a while? When my kids were in diapers, this meant that I used disposables when I got sick just to save me from having to do those extra loads.

Now it means that we break out paper towels and sometimes paper plates when we are sick to help reduce the dishtowels and dishes needing to be washed.  I know, I know…this is shocking since I am such a huge fan of using cloth in the kitchen.  However, for us, we decided that the temporary use of convenience items would be worth the extra expense in the budget because paper towels saved so much of our limited energy.

Especially if you are battling a longer term lack of energy, think about the parts of your day that may be unnecessarily eating up your very limited energy and then discuss with your husband if it would be okay to find a more convenient option temporarily.

Planning Ahead For Times of Exhaustion

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “a stitch in time saves nine.”  Times of exhaustion and sickness are inevitable.  Planning ahead for those times will help immensely.  The most effective way to manage your home when you are feeling under the weather is to be proactive before you actually get sick.

Planning your day with schedules and routines not only will help normal day to day life, but it will also be very rewarding when you are too tired to think about what to do next.

Photo credit reb

Implementing a Schedule

Start by talking and praying with your husband and figure out a schedule that is right for your family, and then stick to it!  Our family thrives on a pretty strict schedule. But inside that schedule, we have routines.  I have laundry routines, and afternoon chore routines, etc.

After you have set up your routines and schedule, write it all down in a notebook.  This way, the information about what needs to be done is all on paper.  This will be super handy when your brain is tired and foggy, or if you have guests or your husband helping you out around the house.

To prepare for times such as illness or the coming of a new baby, think about how you are going to handle things like preparing food or doing laundry.  Implement a strategy that will help you to keep everything under control.  For instance, if you are due to have a baby soon, you wouldn’t want to leave mountains of laundry everywhere.  You would want to get all that laundry taken care of ahead of time, and then implement your new strategy to help you keep the laundry piles as small as possible.

Also, if you are blessed to have bigger children to help with chores around the house, come up with a chore system so every child knows what is expected from them.  You may need to train your children to do these chores, but the time spent doing so will be quite rewarding when they are able to help you in your time of need.

By scheduling your day and coming up with strategies to handle your tasks, your every day life will run so much more smoothly.  If you do a little every day around the house, eventually you will have to put out very little effort to keep up your home.  The “secret” to staying on top of things when you are exhausted is to plan ahead.

This all may sound very basic, and it really is. Like I said earlier, I have had to learn this the hard way.  For many years, I had women and books telling me that it is so important to have a schedule and strategies for dealing with chores.  I thought it all just sounded too simple to be true.  It wasn’t until I finally surrendered and got a working schedule and routines in place that I saw how wise the advice truly was!

Two Resources

I would like to finish by recommending two excellent resources that have greatly helped our family.  First of all is the book Large Family Logistics.  You needn’t have a large family to learn from this book.  It is a truly helpful resource that expounds greatly on the subject of routines.  Also, I highly recommend you visit Titus 2 Ministries.  I had an opportunity to hear this family speak at a homeschooling conference, and they have many practical books and resources to help with schedules and chores.

How do you keep your home during times of exhaustion or illness?  What strategies have you learned to plan ahead?

Top image credit chany14

About Beth Corcoran

I am the mother of four children (wait- make that six as of recently!)—two girls and two boys, ages 7, 6, 5, and 2 ½. While not homeschooling or chauffeuring the kids to their activities, I enjoy all kinds of craft projects and learning how to be a better steward of all that the Lord has given me. My blog is Stewardship Not Convenience.

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Comments

  1. great timing for me to come across this post.. i am 32 weeks pregnant with twins, caring for a sick 22mth old toddler with gastro and have a very busy husband who is working super hard to get everything done before the birth of the babies.. and i am in the middle of house renovations (he is doing that in his spare time.. what is spare time again?)
    exhausting times like this call on some desperate measures in terms of meals and letting go of some of the daily chores for the sake of sanity and rest.. but its nice to be brought back to earth to see that every household does go through times like this, and some simple planning and adjusting of routine can make a big difference! Am getting out my slow cooker a bit earlier this year and am going to use it to its full advantage so at least we are eating one nutritious meal a day… thanks for the motivation! x

  2. Emily @Random Recycling says:

    What timing! After a weekend of celebrating my 2 year old’s birthday, I have come down with a terrible cold. And I’m due with Baby #2 in one week. I needed the reminder to pray for strength, especially in the days ahead. I need to reserve my energy for labor, but I still need a clean kitchen to know things will be ok.

  3. Katherine says:

    I resource that I highly recommend along the lines of your notebook of routines is the FlyLady’s Control Journal. Her website and emails can be a real source of encouragement to babystep your way to an orderly and peaceful home by building routines for all of your chores.

    http://www.flylady.net/

  4. My biggest strategy (I have a long term chronic illness that varies day to day how I am doing) is to have two routines. One is our “good day” routine that I follow when I feel good, and one is the “basic routine for bad days” which has all the bare basics outlined so that I can sort of go on autopilot without forgetting to brush the kids teeth (in my mind that is non negotiable) or run a load of laundry or put the garbage out for garbage day.

    That and planning healthy freezer meals ahead so I can take them out on days when I am not well works great for us and keeps us eating well and healthy which is especially needed during illness.

    The other thing that I do is that I rely on my husband more. He has a busy job but he has his health and lots of energy and sometimes he takes over certain things for me like doing the groceries (which I find especially exhausting).

    • I agree with you Nola especially on the freezer cooking. I have started keeping a few regular things in the freezer that can be pulled out any time (especially things that do not need to be thawed ahead of timet o be cooked, like meatballs).

      I will set short goals for myself when I am sick, like get up and do the dishes and then I can lay back down and feel good about what I got accomplished.

  5. Thanks for the reminder to pray, pray, pray when our tanks are low. I only have one child, but DH’s travel-heavy work schedule leaves me operating as a single parent 50% of the time. For the first 3 years of my daughter’s life, I thought I just had to accept that I would always be cranky and exhausted, especially during DH’s travel weeks. Then, in a Bible study I was attending, we covered Isaiah 40: Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. Something clicked, and I started praying for the Father to renew my strength. God has spent the last 2 years reprogramming me to admit (to myself and others) when I’m exhausted, set healthy boundaries on my time and energy, and look first to him (not myself) for help.
    I noticed one thing you didn’t mention: ask for help. Especially if you’re a single mom, or DH just isn’t free to assist, friends and family can be a great resource for managing high-stress times. They can pick up basic groceries, bring you new-to-you DVDs or books when you can’t get to the library, watch healthy kids while you take sick ones to the doctor, or just pray for you.

  6. We’re just getting over a sickness in our house, so this post really hit home for us. Praying, I’ve found, is absolutely necessary as God so often reminded me that He would sustain me when I just wanted to sleep. And He did. :)

    Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see my photo here! Kind of a shock as it loaded up in my feed reader (kind of confusing too), but very neat as I’ve been reading this site for a while! :)

  7. love this- we finally have a routine that works and it really is worth it… but it is also a flexible one which I think is the only way it can work. I like your reminder especially to not try to take on the world when recovering from illness even though it may seem like it will all never get done again- and just focusing on those simple basic things and using conveniences when needed. great wisdom.

  8. My family, too, is going through the stomach flu… We don’t experience this much, thank the Lord, so I don’t have many sickness strategies & remedies – only what I can remember my mom doing for me when I was little. And of course I was not prepared, even though I’ve had it in the back of my mind to be ready for when the sickness hits…

    Anyway, my question for you is do you have any strategies (other than what you posted in this post), easy home remedies, tips, & helpful things you do/tips for clean-up when your kids have the throw-up kind of sickness?

    Thanks!

  9. This post is spot on. I think your priorities are straight with your hot zones too. For me my hot zones are the front hallway, my bedrooms and the kitchen. As mother’s we probably spend the most time in the kitchen. My front hall is the first thing people see when they walk into the house. And the bedroom – lots of moms seem to “let it go”. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary to retreat to at the end of the day – something relaxing – someplace private that is uncluttered and can be enjoyed by both you and your husband together.

  10. This is good advice Beth. I hope your family is feeling 100% better soon.

  11. jennifer daughtry says:

    So right on. When my dishes are out of control, the wole house is out of control. My kids are still to young to help and “I” am the dishwasher. When the kitchen is clean the whole house runs smoother.
    I am all for the paper plates that have been used while i am preggo this time around. Just feel less stressed with a few less dishes to wash.
    This week we have really concentrated on keeping the dishes washed.
    We also decided that for a while we would go to church on Sunday and not the Wednesday service. WE miss it, but it was causing strain on the family. We also live 35 minutes away from church and that was just a part of it. If we really want to see what we missed can watch the service on the internet a day or so later.

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