Reader question: How do you stop playing “catch up?” 1


Shuli wrote:

I B”H have a pretty streamlined daily schedule to stay on top of housework etc etc, and it works very well for me. However if something comes up to disrupt the schedule even just one time or it’s just a crazy day, I find myself paying for it the entire week trying to “catch up”. Does this ever happen to you and do you have any tips? I don’t even pack my schedule so tightly, but still!

Shuli, it took me a while to get to this post. I was behind myself, with pneumonia, we all caught a tummy bug one after the other (with some repeats just for fun), I had to fly home for an emergency (yes, that’s out of the country!), our van had a flat tire and then dashlights galore and needed to be in the shop for a while, etc. Talk about a rough couple of weeks…but we’re back on track now. Slowly but surely, we’re getting through things and getting our schedule back together.

So I had some recent first hand information for this post. But it’s pretty common to have some times where you just can’t catch up!
English: Gentaur schedule

First things first: When you’re in the thick of it, take a deep breath, daven, and focus on the critical! It’s normal to have these crunch times, but it’s no fun. So take a deep breath to get through it and send up a prayer. Unless there is something emergent at the moment, take a few minutes to daven, gather your resources, and think. Then focus on what absolutely needs to be done and get those things done or make a plan to do so.

***Not everything that makes your life full is important.***

Make a list: Once the critical things are done, it’s time to see what else you need to do. Make a list of everything, and then you can start to work on that list. Weed out the things that keep you busy but can wait, even if it’s only this one time.

  • What can only you do? This should stay on your list if it’s something that needs to be done now.
  • What can you take off your list or postpone? Maybe the floor doesn’t need to be mopped – a quick wipe of dirty places will do. Maybe your child can take a simple sandwich or packaged food for lunch, or you can buy something for dinner instead of cooking from scratch, or you can take a day off from school or sports or daven at home, skip a dry cleaner drop off, postpone a shopping trip…
  • What can you delegate? Can your husband run an errand? Can an older child do the sweeping? Can you call for delivery from a store?
  • Arrange what is left on your list so it works for you. I like to put a day where I’ll do the item next to it, and maybe even rewrite the list by days if it’s really busy. But that might throw some people off, so do what works for you. Maybe you’ll order by importance, or by person, or by a super secret way only you understand – if it works for you, it’s good!

Then get to work. Things will not get done if you don’t put in the work. So once you’ve given yourself direction, it’s time to work your way there. Take little bits at a time and go!

Something to consider as you’re working: take some time to take special care of yourself and your family. If Mommy is running around like crazy and stressed out, it’s hard on the family. This is the time when I do a 5 minute crazy dance / pick up with music blaring, or take time for an extra book with the kids, or skip a bath – or give one with extra bubbles. Something to perk you up is good, too – a bath with extra bubbles? Or time to read a book, a nap, chocolate, food you didn’t cook…whatever works for you.

And later, once you’re out of the pressure cooker, it’s time to take a look at things: is this a regular issue or an occasional thing? If it’s an occasional thing, congratulations, you’re normal! If it’s a common occurrence that you fall behind and fell like you can’t catch up, it’s time to really look at your routines and see what can be done.

But that’s a whole other post. :)

Now it’s your turn. How do you stop playing catch up?


About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.


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