Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Survival Mode

It's okay to be in survival mode at times. Don't feel guilty about it! There simply are times and seasons in our lives when that's the way we need to live. I'm in a little bit of a survival period right now, simply because I don't know from one day to the next how I will be feeling and what I will be able to accomplish. When that is the reality of my life I try to keep my priorities straight so I'm accomplishing what's most important rather than spending my limited time and energy on lesser activities.
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Firstly is my relationship with the Lord. If I cannot get up from the couch I can still pray. If my brain's not working well enough to focus on prayer (e.g. last December when I was dealing with pneumonia), I can turn on praise music so the thoughts that make their way through the cloudiness are thoughts that honor the Lord. Being Catholic, I also have available to me several memorized and written prayers which I prefer to use when I can think and meditate on what I am praying but I am willing to use when I can't as better than the alternative of not praying at all. Another tool I've used at such times is listening to the Bible on cd. Again, while I'd rather be able to think through what I'm reading and praying, I'd rather have God's Word spoken with very little making it's way into my thoughts than to give up and not pray at all.
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Also at the top of my priority list is love and care for my family. As the people I live with, they are the ones who need me most and need to know most of all that I love them. I would rather fail in other responsibilities to other people and spend my time cuddling and reading aloud to my children than to push them away so I can serve someone else. If I'm fighting nausea, I probably can still give them a storytime and direct them in what food is available for them to feed themselves or watch a movie with them rather than ignore my family and use the illness as an excuse. My not feeling well should never be an excuse to speak poorly to my husband or children.
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After focusing on a right attitude toward God and family, my next priority is their basic needs. Food prep and laundry are simply more important day-to-day than cleaning and yardwork. If I have to choose between the two, I try to accomplish the basic need first. If there's still energy leftover, then I can work on decluttering, cleaning, gardening, etc.
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Certain areas of my house can be quick-cleaned in just a couple minutes. I can run the vacuum through our main floor much faster with a much higher reward than deep cleaning underneath our couch. So if my higher priorities have been accomplished and I'm ready to do more, but not everything, then I quick-clean the bathroom or run the vacuum or wash some dishes or pick up the items that no one quite put away where they belong. While I can't put off the deep cleaning forever, there are days when I simply can't do it all. On those days I try to forget what I can't do and focus on what I can.
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Finally, I put together a checklist for myself of daily tasks. If I actually completed each item on my tasklist every day, my home maintenance would be incredibly awesome. Reality says that some items are completed most days (something is served for dinner each night) but others aren't checked off more than 4-5 times a week. I'm definitely not going to finish everything on the list when someone in the family has the flu. But the list still helps me remember which tasks are more important than others (1 load of laundry, not 15). Sometimes it's helpful to mark the items I do accomplish for a pat on the back over getting so much done despite the obstacles. And sometimes it's helpful to look through the list and determine what has to be completed (Decide what's for breakfast tomorrow: cold cereal. Done.) so I can relax better knowing my family will survive.
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Survival mode can't last forever but it is a necessity of life at times. Whether caused by a short-term illness, long-term illness, holiday schedule, a new baby, pregnancy, or something else, keeping our priorities in proper order goes an incredibly long way in helping us through those difficult times. An extended period of survival mode (e.g. chronic illness) may require reviewing life and reassigning tasks (hire a cleaning service?), but a short-term period will be much more peaceful if we accept that season and prioritize our lives accordingly.
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Linked with Works for Me WednesdaySimple Lives Thursday, Fellowship Friday, Modest Monday

4 comments:

  1. Hi Esther... visiting from Fellowship Fridays. Love this... we really do add so much stress and pressure to ourselves by not just accepting the season. Great tips! Hope you have a blessed week :)
    lauren
    www.mercyinkblog.com

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  2. Ah yes... I can relate to being in survival mode. Great post!

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