When Things Get Tough, Make a List

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(This isn’t our kitchen…)

With nearly every weeknight being taken over by theater rehearsals (not that I’m complaining! It’s been a blast) and twice weekly physical therapy sessions (okay, that I kind of AM complaining about), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Super duper stressed. It’s nice to have something fun to focus on, but the rest of this crazy life can get pretty nuts.

But, I’ve done pretty well. How? By chunking. Then listing.

Chunking means a million things (one of which involves child literacy, but that’s not what I’m talkin’ about here). In this case, I just use it as a coping mechanism; a way to handle things in smaller amounts. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

Since the things I look forward to most are at the end of the day (ie rehearsal and seeing Hadley and Dave at the end of it all), I look at each day in sections: morning, work, dinner/physical therapy/shower (those are one thing because they happen quickly in the span of about an hour +/- post-work), then “fun.” (Yes, sometimes the “fun” part is stressful, but it’s the almost-guaranteed positive in my day.)

Sure, sometimes there are positives in the rest of the day. Like, the morning rush almost always gives way to my daily phone chat with my mom. That’s generally a happy, high point of the day, done while eating breakfast or folding laundry or what not. If I can fit little tasks like this in while getting other stuff done, I feel a) more productive, b) less overwhelmed later on (no one likes that “I’ve got NO clean underwear!?!?” feeling), and c) happier (see “a”; laziness makes one beat oneself up, whereas productivity gives a boost of adrenaline…it’s a thing).

And, most days I can find SOME bit of happiness in the “work” side of things. Despite being a librarian, I despise putting books away. (My stack of books can attribute to that.) But if I chunk it into sections — putting away chapter books on one day, or half of the “easy” books, or all of the pet and sport books, it’s more manageable, even with a constantly full schedule. Plus, there’s almost always a happy moment with the kids that makes the rest of the stress easier to take. Even just being in a good mood and laughing along with them (ie not letting their annoying habits break me down…and remembering they’re only kids) helps.

As for P/T…well, that’s a post for another day, but let’s just call it a necessary evil. I go. I do. I feel awkward. I then become frustrated realizing that the exercises I have to do at home just doubled and I’ll be getting up at frickin’ 5:30 to get fit them in. I get grouchy. Then I move on. It’s a cycle, and I’m used to it now. (Well, not the getting up early thing. It’s not in my blood. I was meant to be my grandmother — Grandpa got coffee and breakfast ready for HER.)

When I don’t have P/T, I run around getting a “nicer” dinner ready and grabbing a shower (I shower at night out of convenience and time constraints…don’t say “ew”). The time still flies, and I find myself running out the door to rehearsal.

*SKREEEEECH* (Not the dude from “Saved by the Bell”; let’s not go there.) This is where my listing comes in.

I’m not great at to-do lists. Sometimes, it’s a must. Like anytime I go shopping for example. Groceries or otherwise, I will inevitably forget something if I don’t make a DETAILED list. Like…if I don’t put down the COLOR of the shoes I was going to get, I will immediately walk into Target and go into a Target-coma; must look at EVERYTHING in the store. Inevitably walk out without the shoes I came for. Beat myself up later. (Same works with food of all sorts. Or toilet paper. Hate that.)

However, making a list of the food I have in the house or, better yet, the meal possibilities (some savvy bloggers refer to them as “meal plans”, but I’m hardly a “planner”…so, I guess it’s a “meal list”) on my fridge’s white board helps in this regard.

Of course, the first week I dared use this method (the craziest week yet…until this week, during which the show opens), things got thrown around…but, it was still nice to have the list and use a couple of the “suggested” dinners. Like, Dave and the munchkin stayed with his parents for dinner a couple of nights. Still fine since I could make the omelet I had listed as a possibility. And, saving grace, I had chicken in the slow cooker the night of my incredibly longer-than-usual P/T session last Thursday — which meant I had time to scarf down half of my dinner before heading to the theater vs. not having ANYTHING to eat. Wasn’t great, but was better than takeout (which…ahem…we don’t really do these days).

So, what about your house? How do you handle the stress when you know it’s gonna be a week from Hades? And are you a lister? What kind do you make? Are you like my mom — whom we buy blank paper pads in bulk for, she makes so many lists?

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