This is a difficult post to write. I have been putting it off for some time because revisiting the chaos that once encompassed my life still causes my chest to tighten. I often cannot believe what my life used to entail. How did I ever manage to get through the days? At present I know that I could not handle that lifestyle anymore, but it is important to look back from time to time as a checkpoint to keep me focused. Through this post you will discover how to find happiness after chaos and it is my hope that as you explore Simplify Mom Life you will find the tools you need to do so.
Where to begin? It is best to start with a summary of the beginning. Let me take you to the place I was just before I began my journey to happiness. I have a large family. As my family grew I found that certain things changed without me having considered how to handle those changes. First of all, when your children begin to grow past the toddler phase, they become interested in activities such as sports, clubs, and social events.
Until they get to this point there isn’t too much that requires scheduling other than doctor appointments and playdates. However, the more children become involved with outside activities, the more chaos overtakes your schedule. Have you ever looked at your planner and wondered how you are going to get three children to three different activities that appear to be located on opposite sides of the globe at the same time? Me and you both!
Often times we don’t think about whether we are happy or not. You go from one day to the next completing as many tasks as possible, sleeping very little, and trying to meet everyone’s needs. We believe this chaos to be normal and that all our Mom friends are living the same lifestyle. Happiness is not your focal point. And there are moments when you believe you are happy? Does that feeling fade quickly with the ever looming schedule that is pressing down on you?
Sooner or later you find that you don’t even think about happiness anymore. Suddenly each day is flowing into the next. Before long you realize that your kids are growing up and their schedules and needs are increasing too. You are being pulled in far too many directions. A more simple life with time to breathe and do things that you enjoy seems to be getting further and further away. I know this lifestyle all too well, because there was a time when my life looked like that too. Can you come back from a world of chaos, still meet the needs of others, and find genuine happiness? YES! First, let me tell you what my life was like prior to making my happiness a focus.
There was a year that will forever stand out in my mind. I homeschooled preschool through 12th grade, this means I was teaching preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. I also ran a teen club, a girls club, and a preschool. My children were involved in travel sports, band, academic and elective classes, field trips, youth group, art programs, and volunteering.
I was running a successful business, volunteering, and organizing homeschool activities for our homeschool co-op. Mind you, teaching all of my children entails doing all of the study and prep of every teacher for every subject they would have in traditional school. Unlike a traditional teacher, I also had to review and design curriculum for each child. My husband’s job involved travel, singularly and as a family. (Think about all the planning and packing that is involved with a typical vacation and multiply that times 12.) As if all this wasn’t enough I was still a wife, the laundress, chauffeur, chef, maid, handyman, gardener, lawn maintenance personnel, home manager, and personal assistant to the family. Does this chaos sound familiar?
It is important to realize that with all that I was doing, there was so much more that I was not able to accomplish. I was not making time to care for my health. Creative and artistic endeavors were not even though of, unless they were related to school or fund-raising events. There was no time for me to care for my mental and spiritual wellness. Each room of my home was semi-organized chaos, which is to say that I had organized piles everywhere. Meals were a struggle, to say the least. (One night I actually served ice cream sundaes for dinner!)
Genuine Happiness was so far off my radar it was in another galaxy! Suffice it to say, this was a horrible year in so many ways. Yet, I am grateful for having had the opportunity for this year of uncontrollable chaos, because I needed it to inspire me to pursue what brings true happiness to my soul.
To say I experienced Mom Burnout by the end of the school year, is one of the biggest understatements known to mankind. Consequently, I noticed that with all my busyness I was missing quality time with my family and had zero time for friends. There was a moment when I just wanted to go to bed and stay there…for about a month. That is when it hit me, that something had to change. Chaos, who had successfully disguised itself as my BFF and confidante, was in reality my nemesis. With my blinders torn away, I began to think about myself. How could I acquire genuine happiness, while still raising a family and allowing them to pursue their interests? How could I still be involved in the commitments near and dear to my heart? It was going to take finding the right balance.
With this in mind, let me explain my process so you can find happiness after chaos too!
- First thing I did was to carve little bits of time to jot down what I wanted from life that would bring me the happiness I so craved. Use time slots of 10-15 minutes to compile what is important to you. Use the time waiting to pick up your child, dinner to finish, in a waiting room, or for the dryer timer to buzz. Grab a little notebook, journal, or even a memo on your phone and get brainstorming!
- Next, I reviewed the previous 6 months in my planner and made a list of all my commitments. Be sure to include those things that occur seasonally or yearly such as birthdays, holidays, planting. This can be time-consuming. So try to utilize a time slot when you don’t have to focus on other tasks.
- Afterwards I created a rating system as a base for how much happiness or contentment each line item offered me. One star for commitments I didn’t enjoy or felt obligated to participate in. Five stars for commitments that made my heart dance. This can be emotional and the most difficult part of the process.
- Lastly, start slashing away those commitments! Anything with 1 or 2 stars has to go immediately. Those with 3 stars are those you may feel you need to phase out (put a deadline on this!). 4 and 5 start commitments are keepers! These are the ones that make you smile and feel warm and happy on the inside.
Extra Tips for Finding Happiness After Chaos:
- Be vicious when slashing commitments! Focus on those 4-5 star commitments. The fewer 1-3 star commitments you have the happier you will be.
- Don’t feel as though you have to stop everything immediately. There may be commitments you can’t just walk away from instantly. Let others know that when the season or event is over, you will no longer be able to participate.
- Those things that were once important to you, may no longer be. It’s OK to realize that while packaging food boxes at your local food bank is a highly important commitment, your heart may no longer be in it. Perhaps now you are feeling that your services may be better elsewhere.
- Don’t feel obligated. This is your life. You choose how to spend your time. You may have decided to become classroom or team mom when your child entered kindergarten and have continued not only for that child, but for each subsequent child because you feel it is expected of you. Even if it is, you have the right and it is your duty to say no to anything that does not fit the lifestyle you are pursuing.
- In regards to children’s activities, set some boundaries that you and your husband agree upon. For example, if you have three children and each one is involved in 3 or more activities, consider putting a limit on how many activities each child can participate in at one time. For example, in our family we had a rule that each child was only permitted to participate in one sport at a time.
- You can find even more tips HERE.
You CAN find Happiness!
To sum it up, learning how to find happiness after chaos is one of the most rewarding pursuits you will ever partake in. You will find a level of happiness you likely didn’t know was possible. Most of all, your family will reap the benefits too, which will provide you even greater joy! Your life will be filled with chaos and obligation only if you allow it to continue to control each day. Happiness comes when you empower yourself to create the life you love to wake up and live each day!
I want to invite you to spend a little time on my site to find resources and encouragement to help you on your journey. Have a topic you want to know about? Is there a question you just can’t seem to find a reasonable answer to? Do you have any fears of pursuing a more simple life? Enter your questions in a comment below.