What do you do when you just. Can't. Be. Bothered.
We all have those days where, for whatever reason, we just want to flump. Thanks to my friend L for that particular word. It means to fall or sit down heavily. Similar words include plonk, fall, plop, drop and slump. You get the idea. It's when you just Can't. Be. Bothered.
But of course, the world still turns, washing piles up, meals need preparing, the dog needs walking, the bathtub needs cleaning. Some days, even those tasks can seem insurmountable. All you want to do is flump, and watch TV. Or pretend to yourself that there's a really important craft project that simply must be started today. Avoidance is a great strategy. Not.
I'm not talking the big stuff here. This isn't a treatise on how to declutter a la Marie Kondo, or how to schedule your life in the style of Flylady. Although the advice of these wonderful women works for some, I find that when I'm snowed under, their methods simply make me feel even more overwhelmed.
I've had a few days like this lately. I've had two spells of being ill with a virus, each for four days at a time, and a short school terms with many extra activities thrown in, meaning I was busier than usual playing chauffeur to my teen daughter. Of course when you're busier than usual, and then you get sick and are bedridden for days at a time, things get ugly! Whilst I do what I can to prepare our household for these unforeseen events, it still means that tasks remain incomplete, or not even started. The house starts to look a bit frayed around the edges, clutter reigns supreme, and all of a sudden, the well oiled machine grinds to a screeching halt.
So here's what works for me...perhaps it will help you as well.
1. Accept that you will have these spells. Yes, you'll get sick. Or tired. Or both. You're only human. Do what you can to prepare for these little moments. My essentials list of things to have on hand include:
Just one or two frozen family meals such as Spaghetti sauce, Shepherds Pie, or Meatloaf. Easy to prep ahead and easy to reheat.
Eggs...eggs can become quiche, omelette, muffins, crepes, hotcakes and so on. Even if you only have eggs, flour, sugar and butter, you can feed the family.
Pantry staples like the flour, butter, sugar, and oil will stand you in good stead.
Fruit and veg. Frozen or tinned will do. Frozen fruit can become smoothies, topping for hotcakes or crepes, and blended fruit/Acai bowls. I just about lived on these when I was sick. You just blend frozen mixed fruit with a stick mixer until it's pureed and top with the Acai. Add some toasted seeds or crushed nuts if you like. Bliss for sore throats and fevers. Frozen peas can be added to a simple risotto, they can be steamed and mashed instead of potato, and a little bowl of buttered peas can be mighty appealing if you haven't been able to eat much. Ditto to the frozen oven baked type chips.
Tissues, toilet paper, sanitary items and toiletries are the things that seem to send you into a spin when you don't have them on hand and find yourself too sick or busy to stop at the supermarket. Stockpile these, or at least always have a spare of each on hand.
Basic family medications such as a painkiller, a cough syrup, menthol chest rub, muscle rub, something for diarrhea relief, and an electrolyte replacement drink in powder form, such as Gatorade or Powerade are a sensible must have.
2. No matter how tired or sick you are, try your hardest to get out of bed and shower and dress or at least change your pyjamas. Unless you are too ill to even do that (and as it happened I was...twice!), you'll find that it WILL make you feel better and more capable. Or at least, fresher. Not only that, but you won't be hiding under the bed if a friend happens to drop in with emergency supplies of chicken soup.
3. There will be times when you simply can't do everything that you normally do, so use discretion. Laundry is usually a must do, no matter what, around here, as is folding and putting away, which I do straight from the clothesline or clothes dryer. Ironing is not. Washing of dishes is essential. Watering of pot plants is not. Plants will recover when you do. We all have to eat. We don't have to eat gourmet, so simple meals will see your family fed, with the gourmet fare saved for another day when you're at your best.
4. One of the most valuable things my Mother ever said to me was 'Just do one thing Darling. Then do one thing more. Keep going if you can, but if you can't, at least you've done that'. It's funny though. Once you do one thing, and tell yourself that you only have to do one thing more, you'll often find that you want to do more. I can't explain it. But it works. I promise.
5. Get up earlier, and do what has to be done, so that the day ahead is yours. There's a reason that our ancestors rose with the sun. You get more done. It's like finding an extra couple of hours in your day. Now, I'm not an early riser by choice. I hate it. But I LOVE what I achieve by rising early. Today by 9am, I'd done four loads of washing and hung them out, folded two loads, freshened all the flowers in vases that I'd been gifted over Easter by changing water and trimming stems, fed the family breakfast (including my granddaughter), sliced some limes to dry in the sun for potpourri, made cumquat marmalade, poached some apples for apple crumble for dessert, and made a turkey meatloaf, ready for the oven for dinner. I'd made all the beds, put away the spare bedding we'd used for my granddaughter, and watered the potplants. I'd showered, washed my hair, dressed and primped, so that I can now take my daughter and granddaughter to a lovely leafy park nearby, looking respectable, and knowing that we will return to a welcoming home.
6. Now this might sound like an odd one, but there's a strange peace in making your bed, even if you're getting back into it. I've taught my daughter, that if she makes her bed as soon as she rises, no matter what else happens in her day, she returns to a tidy bedroom. For me, if the dishes are done, and the beds are made, the house looks tidy. This lifelong idea was reinforced a couple of years ago when a friend, M, shared this Youtube clip with me...
...which I loved, and I hope you will too. Talk about 'running out of puff', these guys know about that!
7. This one might sound odd, but it works for me. Make time for yourself. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you are the primary caregiver and household manager, and we all know that that position, even to this day, remains unrecognised for the tireless and unending task it truly is. So give yourself a day off, or at least a decent break each day. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I treat my role as seriously as a real job, and that means taking breaks, much as you would in a job external to the home. I take a fifteen minute break morning and afternoon, and a half hour for lunch. While I'm having my cup of tea or my sandwich, I read or enjoy some of my favourite blogs. I deserve it. I work hard!
8. Learn how to prioritise. Read my method here.
That's about it I think. You'll find your own ways and means, but these are certainly things that make my life run more smoothly, even when things are tough, and energy levels are low.
I hope they help you too.