A crazy season of life
Call it what you will, there are times and seasons of life when organization and calm seems to go out the window and chaos and disorganization take over every inch of your life, right?
Times where no matter what you do and how hard you try, you just can’t seem to find that rhythm you had going…
Times where the urgent things take over and absolutely must be done, so the everyday things get left in the dust and forgotten about… Until all of a sudden, you look around and see nothing but chaos and mayhem and disorder and all you want to do is scream!
Have you ever been here?
Have you ever felt this extreme chaos taking over your life?
If you have, you are not alone!
In fact, as I sit here and type this, I’m right in the middle of one of those chaotic seasons of life. You see, my family is in the middle of a cross-country move…
As we homeschool…
With 5 kids…
And when we left our house, we didn’t have a house to go to! Oh, we had a temporary place to stay, but we didn’t have a new permanent address. Talk about some chaos and pressure trying to figure all these things out!
Seasons of Chaos
If you’ve lived life for any length of time (and by the fact that you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you have lived for at least a decade or two!), you know there are seasons in life that are sheer chaos.
Some of these seasons are planned and expected. Having a new baby and readjusting to adding a little one to your family springs to mind. Or maybe it was someone in your family having a surgery that you knew was coming and so you had some time to prepare for the coming chaos.
Or maybe the season wasn’t medical or health related. Maybe your season of chaos was packing up and moving to a new home. Maybe it was helping a close friend or relative move to a new home or even having to say goodbye to friends as they moved out of town. Maybe it was having someone stay with you for an extended period of time for one reason or another.
Some seasons are completely unexpected and not only throw you into chaos, but they can feel like they wallop you upside the head and heart as they invade your life…
Taking over every thought, every emotion, and taking up every ounce of energy you have to give.
Seasons like this are extremely difficult and can involved the unexpected loss of a loved one, an unexpected illness, a traumatic accident, or other things. (By the way, if you’re going through a season of extreme and unexpected chaos and you can’t seem to wrap your mind around things, don’t try to go it alone! Please seek out a wise and trusted friend, a mentor, or even a licensed mental health counselor who can help you work through all the ins and outs of what you’re struggling with and help you work through it in a healthy way.)
And yet, sometimes the seasons of chaos can be a number of things piled on top of each other – and the things don’t all have to be bad! They can all be really good things! But when you pile one stressful situation on top of another stressful situation and do that again 8 more times, you can find yourself living in chaos and confusion before you know it!
No Shame in Chaos
Before we go on, I want to make one thing very clear: There is no shame in chaos!
Did you hear that?
There is no shame in chaos!
As much as you might want to control every detail of your life and be able to dictate and predict every tiny event (please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks like this!), here’s some good, hard truth for you (and me): You can’t!
You can’t plan everything out and have it work out exactly according to your plan. You can’t expect everything to go perfectly every single time.
Life will throw you curve balls. There will be unexpected events. There will be seasons of chaos. There will be times of confusion.
You see, life isn’t about trying to avoid all the chaos and confusion and make sure you never experience it. Quite the opposite!
In fact, character is built and lessons are learned through the chaos and confusion.
So the questions then becomes, when the chaos and confusion comes (and make no mistake, it will come!), how will you handle it? What will you do?
Because it’s what you do with the chaos and confusion that makes it a livable season or a horrific mess.
When the Chaos Hits…
So, that brings us to the all-important question: When the chaos and confusion hits, what do you do?
Well, standing still and screaming at the top of your lungs probably isn’t the best reaction – much as you might want to. Giving up and covering your head and crying probably isn’t the best reaction, either….at least not for a long-term solution!
But what can you do?
Well, when the chaos and confusion of life hits you hard, try this…
#1 :: Take a Deep Breath
Chaos and confusion feeds on urgency and pressure. When you start to feel overwhelmed by the chaos around you, stop. Take a deep breath.
Count to ten as you breathe in, then count to ten as you breathe out. If you need to, do it again.
Now, there’s nothing magical about counting to ten. There’s nothing magical about breathing (although, I highly recommend it as it is essential to living!). But when you stop in the middle of the chaos and focus on taking a deep breath and releasing that deep breath, it allows you to pause. It allows you to slow down the hurry-hurry-hurry mentality that chaos likes to feed on.
In other words, you stop allowing the chaos around you to call all the shots. You stop catering to the chaos itself and you make the choice to choose your next steps.
#2 :: Force Yourself to Calm Down
Chaos breeds chaos. You can see this in words, in actions, in feelings, and more, right? When life chaos starts, it feels like more is quick to follow it.
Well, if chaos breeds chaos, when you start feeling and acting crazy, that creates more chaos and all of a sudden you find yourself in the game of ‘Chutes and Ladders’ spiraling down to the very beginning…or did you fall off the game board all together this time?
But what if you stopped? What if instead of allowing yourself to give into the chaos and the feelings of chaos, you stopped and forced yourself to slow down? It would be like stopping at the top of the slide and refusing to take the headlong plunge down the game board.
When you stop and force yourself to calm down (that deep breathing in step #1 is a great place to start!), you can stop the chaos from spinning out of control.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, most of the chaos will probably still be there. The situation around you may not have changed one bit since you paused. But here’s the thing: Your reaction to the situation will have changed dramatically!
You’ll be choosing your actions, not simply reacting and giving into the chaos around you.
#3 :: Re-Center Your Heart
Here’s the truth of the matter: When you start to become overwhelmed by chaos, you start to lose sight of those things that are most important to you. You become wrapped up and consumed by the things that are happening in the moment and you stop allowing yourself to think.
So, take a moment. Pray. Meditate on the things that speak peace and calm and grace to your heart.
Remember, just because the world around you is in chaos, your heart does not have to be full of chaos!
Take a moment and remember, set your mind, center your heart on the things that are most important. Faith. Family. Friends. (Just to name a few…)
#4 :: Choose Gratitude
Okay, okay, I know, this one seems so cliche, right? Can’t you just hear that taunting voice? ‘Be grateful!’ ‘Just be happy!’ ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’ (Did the ‘ooo’s’ just start running through your head, too?)
But here’s the thing: When you always and only focus on the negative, on the things that are causing the chaos, on the things that are going wrong, you will only see the things that are going wrong!
But, when you stop and find something in the situation to be grateful for, well, it changes your whole outlook!
Oh, I’m not talking about denying reality with a Pollyanna-like mentality. Reality will still be there! But maybe Pollyanna had it right when she played the ‘Glad Game’ and looked for something to be grateful for no matter the situation.
#5 :: Do the Next Right Thing
Let’s face it, when the chaos of life hits and feels like it takes over, it can stop you in your tracks, right? Sometimes there is so much chaos and confusion happening that you out and out freeze.
You feel like you don’t know which way to move and so you end up doing absolutely nothing.
It’s all you can do to breathe, let alone attempt to do anything else, right?
In those moments, one of the best things you can do is figure out what the next thing is to do and simply do it.
And it might not necessarily be a big thing! The next thing you need to do might be to refill your coffee cup or wash your face or go take your vitamins. The next right thing for you do might be to make your kids peanut better and jelly sandwiches for lunch or fold and put away that load of towels from the dryer.
But here’s the thing: When you start with those little things, those tiny actions of taking one step at a time start to propel you in the right direction. They start you going in the right direction. And when you start moving in the right direction – even with some little things – it sets you up to keep moving in the right direction with the bigger decisions you need to make amidst the chaos.
Accept the Chaos
Sometimes there are seasons of life where you have no choice but to accept the chaos. To realize that at this time, in this season of your life, it will be chaotic. To not only realize, but accept the fact that no matter what you do, your life will feel crazy.
And you know what? That’s okay. In some seasons, that’s what has to happen.
Now, if you start living your entire life as one great, big, long season of chaos… Well, that’s not a season of chaos! That’s a lifestyle of chaos!
But when you have those seasons of life – those seasons of moving, adding a new baby to your family, a season of illness, or a season of lots of exciting things happening simultaneously – embrace them!
Accept them and embrace them for the crazy seasons that they are. But at the same time, know they will be around for just a season.
Do What You Can
Did you know you can create patterns and organization even within the crazy seasons of life? It’s true!
Take my family for example: Even as we’re in the middle of a cross-country move, I know one of the things that keeps us on track is getting our school work done. So, before I started packing up our house, one of my top priorities was to make it possible for us to take our homeschooling ‘on the road.’ Essentially, to figure out how we could do our school work even when we weren’t in the school room we had all gotten used to.
And you know what? This one factor of bringing our school with us, of continuing to keep this big priority central in our lives has been a huge help as we’ve been in this time of transition. It’s given us an anchor, some stability among the chaos.
(By the way, keep your eyes open as I’ll share in more detail what it looks like for us to take our homeschooling ‘on the road’ as we transition between 3 houses in 3 different states in 3 months!)
Now, for you, homeschooling might not be that core piece that needs to stay in place. Maybe it’s a morning walk or making your morning smoothie or an evening walk or your nap time routine with your little ones.
Whatever you can do to help keep some of the normalcy and stability in your season of chaos, do it! You’ll be shocked at how some things which might seem little in the normal times become the anchors for your family during those times of chaos.
Give Yourself Grace
The one thing you need above all else in this season of chaos is to give yourself grace.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible at this one! I’m the type of person where I want things to be done right, I want them to be done now, and they have to be organized in the process!
But here’s the thing: Giving yourself grace in these times of chaos and confusion is so essential to being able to function, let alone to make it through!
It’s all about keeping the most important things the most important priorities and being okay if the dishes don’t get done or if the dusting doesn’t happen.
More than anything, it’s about knowing you’re doing what you can and letting go of the things that are out of your control.
And one great thing about seasons? They change! Just like summer turns into autumn, the seasons of life will change. This season of chaos will not last forever. But until then, remember to breathe and give yourself grace as you walk through the chaos!
- 7 Ways to Pause and Gain Space in Our World of Chaos
- How To Intentionally Create a Pattern for Your Day
- What To Do When You Crave Balance As You Homeschool
- The Changing of the Seasons of Life
- To the Frustrated and Overwhelmed Homeschooling Momma
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.