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I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life. For me, it doesn’t take the form of panic attacks, so much as just an underlying awareness of all the things that could go wrong. And last month, I officially added a depression diagnosis to that, although I’ve had a suspicion about it for awhile.
Sometimes for me, while dealing with these things, the hardest thing to do is make decisions.
Note: These are just my experiences. I’m not a medical professional. Consult with your own doctor if you’re experiencing these things yourself.
And let me tell you, with children, you’re constantly being asked to decide things. Or to tell them of decisions you’ve already made.
“What’s for breakfast?”
“Can we go to the park?”
“Can we watch a movie?”
“Do I need pants or shorts today?”
It’s a constant barage of things you either hadn’t thought about yet, or don’t really want to have an opinion about. But you get to.
Some days are hard. Imagine that each morning, you wake up with a battery percentage like a cell phone. Depending on how you slept, that battery might not be at 100% to start out with. And some days, even getting out of bed uses a chunk of that battery percentage. And then each question that you get, each decision that you make, uses more and more of that battery.
If you’re lucky, at some point, you get a chance to recharge that battery by a little bit, whether by having some quiet time, or doing something that fills you up.
But sometimes, that battery runs out before the day does.
And on those days when your battery is already low, it’s crucial to have rhythms and routines in place.
We have a pretty standard breakfast rotation, which means I don’t generally have to answer the “What’s for breakfast?” question. (We also have a markerboard on the fridge that lists out our meals for those who can read, but we’re still working on them actually going and reading before asking me).
We have certain days of the week assigned to certain activities. My kids know that Wednesdays are library days, and Fridays they can stay up a little bit later to watch wrestling with dad if they’ve had a good day. They know that we do laundry on Tuesdays. They take turns doing the dishes on certain days.
I’ve put all of these rhythms and routines in place so that I don’t have to think about them. I don’t have to question when certain chores will get done because they’re already built into our system.
And on those low battery days, when I only have the energy for the bare minimum, I know what that is. I know we have to eat. I know that the kids can pick up their toys. I know that dishes will get done. I know which schoolwork we can skip.
I know our bare minimums, because I’ve figured them out so that I can be gentle with myself when I need to be.
And one of the best parts of having these routines in place? Having things to look forward to. No matter what kind of day I’m having, I know that after lunch the kids have quiet time in their room and I can relax with a cup of coffee and not do anything for a few minutes.
I know that even if Jesse has been working all day, we will have a family dinner together, and that pretty much every night after the kids go to bed, we get to hang out, just the two of us.
I know that if I get all of my school planning and blog work done on Saturdays, all I have on the schedule for Sunday is church and feeding people easy meals.
Having these things that make me happy built into my schedule makes even the hard days easier.
I have mild depression and anxiety. It’s manageable, and I feel optimistic about it. Even just talking about it has made a world of difference for me.
But recognizing how this fits into my life, the rhythms and routines that I’ve created help me to keep things moving even when I don’t feel like the best version of myself.
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