Our family recently had a week of me being out of commission for some medical things that we knew were coming. Andrew and I have been in this situation for good chunks or our marriage, so it felt like a familiar glove we slipped on for a few days. 

In this survival season, we departed from some of our usual standards of ideals – we watched movies every day, ate food that we don’t normally eat, and let go of a lot of the routines or things the kids are supposed to do in the morning. 

But you know what didn’t change? My mental health. I was in good spirits. I was the person I wanted to be with my husband and children. In the past, I sacrificed that all in the name of ideals. But when we can determine what our priorities are in a difficult season, we can embrace the difference and novelty of it all and focus on what matters most.

Here are five things I did to prepare for survival mode:

  1. Plan for freezer meals. We like to get family-sized Stouffers or Voila to make things easy, but you could also prepare your own.
  2. Plan something to be excited about. This could be painting, reading books together, or watching a fun movie.
  3. Clean up the house. If possible, keep it picked up with short energy windows, or trust that you can reset it when you go through re-entry.
  4. Talk back to the mom guilts when you aren’t doing what you normally do. Everyone’s fine. Be present.
  5. Talk with your spouse. Communicate your needs and priorities and simplify.

In a season of survival, it’s so important to evaluate when you can’t do everything, what you are choosing to do. In the past, I’ve chosen the projects because it’s fun, and the piece of having something to look forward to was crucial to my mental health.

But this time, the priority wasn’t fun – and maybe that had a lot to do with it being short-term and a bit to do with us having a large family and needing to keep things a bit more stable. The true priority was just keeping things going smoothly – keeping food on the table, resetting our spaces, putting clothes in drawers, and reading lots of books with my kids.

When I had small bursts of energy, these are the things I focused on and I was amazed at how well our home kept functioning. This has taken me YEARS to figure out, so I hope that a peak into how we prepare can help smooth our your next – or current- season of survival mode.

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