This is super hard for me to talk about. I've mentioned before that I have a chronic illness (one that we really don't know what it is or how to fix it). Sometimes people get this impression of me as some sort of perfectly organized home manager whose life is never in chaos…and that just couldn't be further from the truth.
I love organizing and sharing ideas on my blog and my YouTube channel, but sometimes organization just has to take a backseat to life. If you're in that season now, know that you're NOT ALONE. I share more in the video here, or keep reading if this resonates with you.
We all go through hard stuff in life. I don't care who you are or how much money you have– you will face challenging times, and some of those times can absolutely bring us to our knees. It's in those times that the to-do list, the organized house, the cleaning, the fancy dinner making just can't be a priority.
Sometimes it's a bunch of little things that all add up. Maybe you're going through changes. You've moved. You've had a baby. You've gotten married or divorced. You've had a job change or a major loss. Maybe there's personal or emotional turmoil going on with you. If you're in a rough patch, it's really not the time for you to be worrying about alphabetizing your spices, LOL!
In these times, the best thing to do can be to go into “maintenance mode.” What's the absolute minimum you have to do to keep your house from dissolving into utter chaos? Just do the minimum. You don't always have to eat fancy (or even super healthy) meals. Your laundry doesn't have to be folded fresh from the dryer, and the vacuuming can probably wait a couple weeks (eek).
I've always been a very driven, motivated person, and, okay, even a bit of a perfectionist. I remember the exact time in my life where I realized I just had to let go of perfection. Several years ago, I had just had my second baby and two weeks later moved across the country for my husband to start a new job. I had to use the GPS to go to the grocery store (with a toddler and newborn in tow!), and my husband was trying to figure out his new job. My business was taking off, so I was overwhelmed with figuring out how and when to hire help. I was stretched THIN.
It was a few weeks after the move when the unpacking STILL wasn't close to done, and I was just going a bit crazy. I had to prioritize. These were my main categories/responsibilities:
- My kids/family
- My business
- My house
Obviously, my kids are a top priority. I really wanted to focus on my business because I felt like it had potential, and it was something I loved doing. So I let my house go a bit. I didn't clean much, and our meals were about as basic as it gets. Sometimes we ate cheese and crackers and called it dinner!
You cannot do it all.
I don't care what it looks like on social media. No one can (or should!) “do it all.” We see snippets of people's lives on social media. I have to fight the comparison monster a lot myself. It always looks like other moms are doing more with their kids and doing it better. But I'm only seeing what they put on their IG stories. I really have no idea what their real life is like.
People so often talk about how positive I am or how organized and efficient my house is, but it is definitely not always like that! Sometimes I'm crying in the corner of my closet. Maybe 20% of the time my house is near perfectly in order. About 50% of the time it's average– a bit messy but not out of control. And the other 30% of the time, it's a hot mess! But you don't see that part on YouTube. I've tried to show things more realistically, but no matter what, people see only (at most!) about an hour of my life each week.
No matter what it looks like on the outside, no one can do it all. No one is perfect. And no one should pressure themselves to try to be perfect, either. It's no way to live!
After that initial struggle after the move, things got better for me. I got part time child care. I hired help in my business. We ended up moving back closer to family. Life became much more manageable for a while. Then I got a curve ball– a chronic illness.
I never really appreciated what chronically ill people endure until I became sick myself. There are worse things, but this is the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. My illness, which remains undiagnosed, mostly involves abdominal pain. But I'm not talking an upset tummy. I'm talking intense, put me in bed with a heating pad pain that has sent me to the ER on several occasions.
The worst is the unknown. I never know when I'm going to have a good or a bad day, and sometimes the painful episodes can last weeks or months. I never know when or if it will end or for how long. That really stresses me out! It's a constant weight on me.
How I get through it
I've learned that for myself at least, the best thing for me is to work through it to an extent. I can't pause my life forever. If I had a stomach bug, of course I could put life on hold for a day or two. I wouldn't need to cook, clean, and my husband could take over child duties. But this isn't just a day or two bug. It's my life now.
Living with pain takes soooo much of my energy. Take filming a video (which I LOVE!). If I'm having a good day, I feel energized afterward. If it's a bad day, I dread putting on makeup and my happy face and making the video. Afterward I'm wiped out, both physically and emotionally. But I still have to show up. I have to show up for my business and for my family because life can't just stop for me all the time.
Of course there are limits to how far I can just push through it. And if you're in a similar situation, pushing through it may not be the right choice for you. What has made this all somewhat doable, though, is giving myself permission to let the house slide when it needs to.
If I have a really good day, I am NOT giving that energy to the house. I'm taking my kids to the park, and we're bonding. They are getting my best energy, NOT my house! And that's OKAY! What I've learned over the last few years of my illness is that I have to:
- keep my priorities in order
- not compare myself to others who may be able to do more
I do the best I can, and then I don't beat myself up. Because I did my best!
You're not alone
If you can relate to this, just know you're not alone. Even if you're not dealing with an illness like I am, we all have hard seasons. In those times, the house is just not the most important thing. I would like to say in my case (or in yours) that things will get better in time. But sadly they may not. I know that sounds like a huge downer, but it can also be freeing because it can allow us to just live in our reality, do our best, and then appreciate ourselves for what we can do and not beat ourselves up for what we can't.
One way I am able to stay positive (most of the time) is that I now realize what a total GIFT a good day is. If I have a good, relatively pain-free day, I make the absolute MOST of it! And I treasure it for what it is. I never take those days for granted anymore. So, I just try to get through the bad days and enjoy those good days to the max.
If you're beating yourself up right now because your house just isn't what you want it to be, then I”m going to tell you now– STOP IT! You're not a failure. You're a person struggling through a hard time. Whatever you're going through, your house is probably not the most important thing right now. Things probably will not be like this forever, and there will always be time for more organization later. Just be kind to others and to yourself! We are all going through something. We are all here to help each other out and lift each other up! No one is perfect, and you don't have to be either!
Organization that sticks for busy, happy lives.