How to recover when life throws you a curve

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When life throws you a curve

For a week my life was dominated by two phrases:

Extreme winter weather warning and bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

The former turned what was supposed to be a day in Portland into a 2½ day stay because of freezing rain and snow on the route home. The latter saw my son sick and in the doctor’s office one day and then in the hospital for the next two (he’s much better now). In the two days in between these events I reached my low as a mother and my productivity was nil the entire week.

Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of things neither of these events was a big deal. We had a great (kid-free!) time in Portland and we were only in the hospital for two days with a sick baby—I cannot imagine how hard it is for families with a seriously ill child; two days was plenty. But life throws us all curve balls, doesn’t it? Whether by something big or small we can get derailed pretty quick. While we can’t avoid these interruptions (after all, they’re our real life) there are ways to minimize their impact.

1. Work ahead

One thing that hung over my head all week was the ‘More with Less’ post that was supposed to be published on Friday. It wasn’t written and I honestly didn’t have a chance to write it. But I should have written it long before. Do what you can as far ahead of schedule as possible. You don’t want to worry about bills being late because your routine was hijacked. This is also a great reason to have a few freezer meals made up.

2. Do what you can

When you have a minute, accomplish a little task. Whether it’s sending an email or throwing in a load of laundry you’ll feel better knowing one thing is out of the way. Stealing a quiet moment with a book or cup of tea counts, too.

3. Do the thing in front of you

When you’re recovering from a time of chaotic schedules and little structure, it can be hard to get your feet back under you. So instead of looking at the whole, pick one thing and do it. Wash dishes, re-schedule meetings, read your Bible. Prioritize your ‘to-do’ list and check things off one task at a time. (I totally stole the heading from Tsh Oxenrider’s post Do the thing in front of you. You should read it)

4. Give yourself grace

This is the hard one, isn’t it? We want to seem like we can keep everything together even in extenuating circumstances. But we can’t and that’s okay. Standards might have to slip  until ‘all systems are go’ and life gets back to normal. Don’t hold it against yourself because no one else is and ask for help when you need it.

Life has been even-keeled for a few days now and I am getting my feet back under me. Edward is on the mend and there’s a new Starbucks in town just waiting for me to write the next installment of ‘More with Less’ in it. Over the last week and a half I’ve seen the importance of being on top of things so when the unexpected happens it’s easier to bear. I’ve also seen the good that can come from them. So whether you’re in a season of routine or chaos (or somewhere in between) embrace it because you’ll be in the other season soon.

What do you do when life gets thrown off course? What points would you add?

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6 thoughts on “How to recover when life throws you a curve

  1. Excellent points–all four of them. I’m trying to choose a favorite, but I can’t! 🙂 I too find that things run much more smoothly when I’ve been able to work ahead. (Case in point–yesterday, when the alarm didn’t go off so I overslept by one hour but we still got out the door on time because the backpack had been packed, the clothes laid out, and the lunchbox packed the night before.)

    One thing that helps me (and is somewhat of a combination of #2 and #4 on your list) is writing down things as I accomplish them–kind of a backward “to do” list. It helps me see that I am doing what I can and helps me give myself grace for the things that I have not been able to accomplish.

    Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more.

    • Thanks for the great comment!I’m glad I could provide some inspiration. It is WONDERFUL to get things done the night before and yours is a great example of why it’s important. I also like your idea of a backwards ‘to-do’ list. Some days I get to the end and wonder just what I did all day (stay-at-home-mom problems). That is a great way to remind yourself you ARE getting things done, even if they’re nothing big.
      I will definitely be checking out your blog and I hope you stick around here!

  2. So very glad the little man is doing better!! And thank you for this post!! Such a good reminder to get a few extra things done while we can, to ease those times when life throws the curve. Thanks Erin!!

  3. Pingback: More with Less: Give your money away |

  4. I have to admit that I didn’t REALLY read this post the first time around, as I was preoccupied by little Edward being attached to tubes! Ugh. My poor heart. Both Graeme and I are VERY happy to hear that he is recovering!

    I love the philosophy of just getting SOMETHING done. My Mom always taught me to do a bunch of small, easy tasks from my ‘to do’ list to make myself feel better (and, not surprisingly, it actually works). And, of course, she taught me to sit down and have a cup of tea. Another very good and very English solution.

    Despite your great coping skills, hoping that there aren’t any more curves in the upcoming weeks! 🙂

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