Your kids are home from school, and you are overwhelmed! You feel like you’re starting to lose your mind. You feel like the house is a mess; no one has any structure; the kids are fighting, eating non-stop, have too much energy, leave their toys everywhere. You’re worried that they aren’t learning anything, you’re not getting any work or chores done, and you’re yelling all the time.
I get it; I’m right there with you.
Being Home Is Breaking You
And since we don’t know how long the school closures will last, something has to be done. Yelling everyday, feeling frustrated with the mess, and blaming your husband for not helping out enough, does not feel good.
Control Over Chaos Helps Decrease Overwhelm
Gaining a little control over this new chaos will help decrease your overwhelm, anxiety, and frustration.
When you feel anxious or worried, one way to cope with your emotions is to identify what you can control. Now I am not suggesting that you turn into a control freak. In fact, some of you may need to let go of control and remember that you cannot control everything!
What I am saying, however, is that creating some structure, rules, and habits and identifying what you can control and/or change during this uncertain time will help decrease your overwhelm and anxiety. Below are 5 tips for gaining some control over the chaos of life at home.
- Create a Schedule – Even if you are not a schedule person, having some idea of how the day will flow will help. You don’t need exact times, but running through a plan the night before will provide a backdrop to the day. For example, you may lay in bed and think: “Tomorrow we will eat breakfast, the kids will play while I answer emails, we’ll get dressed, do some reading, and get started on work sent home from school. Before lunch, we’ll get outside and play, eat lunch, and then play a game after lunch before quiet time/nap time. After a nap, we’ll finish up some school work, FaceTime our cousins, and have screen time while I make dinner. Once you have your “plan,” write it down so that you can refer back to it when you feel overwhelmed or lost after breakfast!
- Create Rules for Clean Up – It is normal if the house is messier than usual right now. Between schoolwork, free play, and breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner, the house is getting a lot of action. But that doesn’t mean that you should let go of all order. Total chaos at home will make you feel overwhelmed, so create some guidelines. For example –
- MEALS: have everyone clean up breakfast. If you make a morning snack, put snack dishes in the sink until lunch clean up, and clean up dinner dishes before evening playtime/bedtime.
- SCHOOL WORK: Encourage your children to put their school supplies away after they complete an assignment. Since they are held to this standard at school, they should be held to the same standard at home.
- TOYS: Toys should be picked up 2-3x during the day. If you are transitioning, turn clean up into a game. Ask your kids who can clean up the most toys, tell them you are setting a timer, and see if they can clean up in 3 minutes, ask them to be big construction trucks scooping up the toys.
- Manage your Expectations – This is an uncertain time, which is causing a lot of stress and anxiety. Even if you ignore your phone and the news, your unconscious is processing everything happening in the world, and you are stressed, tired, overwhelmed, and frustrated. So you are not going to be your best self, and neither is your husband or your children. Try to manage your expectations. Allow for everyone to have their moments. When your children act out, sit with them, and read instead of yelling. When your husband hides out in the home office, text him and tell him you need help, when you feel like you are going to lose your mind, turn on some music and have a dance party.
- Get Outside – I keep saying this because it is so important. One of the healthiest ways to manage your stress is to get some exercise. Since you cannot go to the gym during quarantine, make an effort to either take a walk at some point during the day or wake up 30 minutes early to take an online workout class (so many apps are offering free classes right now). Movement will help your body regulate your stress hormones, clear your mind, and release stress-minimize hormones.
- Make a Gratitude List – It’s super easy right now to notice and focus on all that is “bad,” scary, overwhelming, disappointing, or frustrating, but that perspective is dangerous for your well-being. When you see the bad, you will magnetize worse into your life. You will feel helpless and hopeless and resign to negativity. If instead, you make a list of all that is good, the blessings in your life, and what you are grateful for, you feel empowered and recognize the silver lining in this “forced pause” in life. (i.e., you are at home, you’re with your family, you’re safe, this will come to an end, you have internet, electricity, water, and other resources, you can work from home, you can catch up on some sleep, you don’t have to make school lunches).
TAKE AWAY: Yes, you are dealing with a lot right now, and you will have moments of yelling, the house will be a mess, and you will feel helpless, but if you implement these 5 tips daily, you will find more moments of joy, hope, and calm and start to decrease your overwhelm!