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If your family is anything like mine, you're constantly
juggling a dozen moving parts. And it only takes a slight deviation from normal
for all the pieces to slip from your hands and clunk to the ground: One of your
kids gets sick, or stops sleeping or pooping, or possibly worse—they stay
healthy while you're feverish.
Early in our parenting career, my husband introduced the
phrase, "We're in survival mode," into our relationship. As in, "We're in
survival mode here, let's stop beating ourselves up for the house being a
disaster." "We're in survival mode, we don't need a four-course meal."
Like, our best friend.
When we're in survival mode, we relax our already lazy limits on screen time for
2. No-cook meals
Crackers and carrots? Sounds like
dinner! There's a vegetable in there, after all. We keep meals extra simple,
reminding ourselves that no one will die of malnutrition from a few days of having
cereal for dinner.
3. Cleanliness be damned
The house will be clean, someday, but not today.
Survival mode isn't the
time to worry about a messy house or laundry disaster. I tell myself that the
house will be clean, someday, but not today.
In like 10 years.
4. Hygiene is optional
I think someone is cooking
some beef stew, but it turns out it's just me (or one of my kids). It's OK. This
is survival mode. So go ahead and keep those pajama pants on for one more day. The
shower will be there waiting, a watery beacon, and it will be glorious.
5. Eliminate any extra obligations
In Marie Kondo
style, any extra appointments that don't "spark joy" get canceled. That board
meeting you don't really want to go to anyways? Canceled. Your gyno exam?
Canceled that one twice.
6. Ignore any of these rules that you please
example, exercise is a sanity saver for me, so I'll figure out how to fit in a
long walk or a yoga class. If cleaning the house helps you feel like you still
have a semblance of control in life, vacuum like the wind. You know what you
need to do to take care of yourself, so do it, no matter what anyone else
There's a hidden gem buried in the
chaos of survival mode. Most of the things I feel are so urgent on a daily
basis can actually wait. Our jobs can usually wait. The laundry can sure as
heck wait. The beauty of survival mode is that it allows us to whittle down
life to the bare necessities: taking care of ourselves and our families. Everything
else can wait.