5 Simple Things to Do When Your Life is in Chaos

Special Needs Parenting

When Life Is In Chaos


Most of us have routines and things that we do to keep our lives comfortable and predictable.


We tend to do things in a certain order.  We might get ourselves ready and eat breakfast and then get the kids up and ready.  We tend to leave the house around the same time each day.  We take the same route to work.  Most of the time work is fairly predictable.  We get home around the same time each day and then do our evening routine.


But what do we do when all of that goes out the window?  How do we keep our routines and our predicability?


If you have young kids, it’s harder.


If you have a child with special needs, it becomes even more of a challenge.


It’s incredibly important to our own mental well-being and that of our family’s well-being to have a few simple strategies to put in place when everything else is out of place.


There’s a Toilet on My Front Porch


There is literally a toilet on my front porch.


A toilet.  Some kind of saw.  Tools.  Floor tiles.  Bags of grout and spacers.  Four guys I don’t know.


My husband and I decided to do some remodeling in our house.  Floors, paint, cabinets, bathrooms, new furniture.


We had NO idea how much this was going to upend our lives!


I live and die by routines.  My kids and husband as well.  We are not fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people.


We haven’t been able to use our main floor for the past three weeks.  We have no bathroom or running water on the main floor.  We are all living in a couple of rooms upstairs just when the temperature decided to hit 100 degrees and stay there.


Needless to say, tempers are short.  Nerves are frayed.  Dog is peeing everywhere because he’s stressed too.


Add in a couple of personal and work stresses and we’ve got a raging dumpster fire!


Raging Dumpster Fire to a Controlled Burn


I’m an all-or-nothing person.  When I start something I jump in with both feet and 100% of my effort.


But it’s really hard to maintain that level of commitment!


Add in unexpected life happenings and remodels and I quickly go from 100% in to shutting down.


It’s taken my almost 40 years, but I’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.  Instead, just do something.


There are always a few things that we can control and those are the things to focus on when everything else around us is in chaos.


5 Things To Do When You’re in Chaos


1. Keep Your Schedule The Same as Possible


This takes more planning on our part, but providing some predictablilty during the chaos will pay off.


This is particularly true when we have young kids and young kids with autism or other developmental delays.  Toddlers and preschoolers thrive on routines and predictable expectations.  When routines and expectations are predictable, we see fewer behavioral problems.


You may not be able to control parts of your schedule during the chaos, but determine what you can keep the same.


For me, I could still get up at the same time and get the kids up and going at the same time.  Same with bed times.


Was it messy?  Of course!  (We’re getting ready and washing dishes in one of our usable bathrooms.)


Meal times happen around the same time too.


Are we eating way too much fast food and take out?  Of course!  But at least everyone is fed.


Keep the parts of your schedule the same that you can and know that you’ll get back to your regular schedule as soon as you can.


2.  Prioritize Sleep


I listen to a lot of fitness podcasts and usually it’s a 20-something telling me that I need to prioritize sleep and get 9-10 hours a night.


Cue me yelling at them about how easy it is to say when you’re in your twenties, don’t have kids, set your own schedule, and have very few responsibilities.


But I’m here to tell you the same thing and I hope you aren’t rolling your eyes or yelling at me.


Hear me out.  I’m a mom.  I work full-time.  Definitely not in my 20s anymore.


Just make sure everyone is sleeping.


Whenever life is hectic and there are major changes, it’s incredibly important that everyone is sleeping.


No matter what that looks like.


If everyone is in their own bed, great!


If your two year old is sleeping with you, fine!


If you’re sleeping on the floor next to your preschooler’s bed, whatever!


When the chaos goes away and you want to fix sleeping habits, do it!


In the meantime, just make sure everyone is sleeping.  We can’t function very well on little to no sleep.  And things seem much much worse when we are tired.


3.  Just Get Through The Chaos


This one is a little vague, but getting through it will look different depending on your life.


Just do whatever you need to do to get through the chaotic times.


For my family, are we eating out a ton?  Yes!  (My pants are not going to fit by the end of this remodel!!)


Are my kids watching a ton of screen time?  Yes!


Do we skip daily baths?  Sometimes!


There is plenty of time to improve our food choices.  When we aren’t squished into a couple of usable rooms, the screen time will go down.  When all of our bathrooms are functional, my kids will get showered daily again.


It’s fine.  It will work out.


4.  Do 1 Thing Your Family Enjoys


As I mentioned, we have been eating out so much.  My stomach hurts just thinking about it.


But we did find this new and really yummy ice cream place!


So, we go there once or twice a week and try a new flavor of ice cream.


It gets us out of the house.  We get to spend some time together.  We eat ice cream.


We’re also using neighborhood splash pads a lot.


Find 1-2 things that you can do that will help take your mind off the chaos and give you and your family a few minutes of calm and/or fun.


Watch a favorite movie and have popcorn.


Go to a nearby park.


Let your kids run through the sprinklers outside.


Eat a picnic in your backyard.


It doesn’t have to be anything big and exciting.  My 6 year old will run through sprinklers as long as I let her while I drink a Diet Coke or scroll through my phone.


5.  Find a Few Minutes for Yourself


This is another thing that makes me roll my eyes way back in my head.


How am I supposed to find time?


Kids, dog, husband, work, friends, other committments.


For me, this means that I get up earlier than everyone else.


It also means that sometimes I sit in my car for a few minutes by myself before I pick up my daughter from daycare.


I’ve also been known to turn on a movie and hand out lots of fruit snacks so I can get a couple of things done without a shadow.


Finding 5-10 minutes here and there throughout the day gives you just enough time to recharge your battery and go back out there and face the next thing.


Control What You Can and Ask For Help


We always have variables that are out of our hands.


Just when things seem to be calming down, something else pops up.


Most of the time these things don’t throw us too far off course.


But during those times when we are stressed more than normal, have a lot of changes, and cannot follow our regular routines, decide on what you can control and stick to that.


(This probably isn’t the time to get rid of the binky or get your toddler to sleep in their own bed.  This may not be the time to get your kiddo to try new foods.)


Control what you can.  Take a few minutes to yourself.  Just get through it and try to get everyone to sleep.


I know one day we will have our house back and it will be worth it.


Some day personal stresses and work stuff will decrease.


If you do feel that things are out of hand and you are having difficulty getting through the day, ask for help.


None of us can do everything on our own.  If you have family, reach out.  Neighbor you can ask?  Great!  If you need help from a medical professional, make that call.


While we can let some things go for a bit (food choices, screen time, etc), things like mental and physical well-being cannot wait.  Take those steps to get you or your family the help you need.


What are your go-to strategies when life is in chaos?  What’s worked well for your family?


I’d love to hear it!  Send me a message and tell me your best strategy!





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