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How to Overcome Burnout and Get Back on a Routine (Part 3)

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 be sure to read them here before you read Part 3 below.

5) Recognize That You Can’t Do It All

No woman, no matter how put together she might seem, is superwoman. Every woman has her flaws, shortcomings, and struggles.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

The sooner you stop comparing yourself to others, the sooner you’ll start to find more peace and contentment in life.

You can spend all of your life trying to measure up to someone else. You can fritter away hours of time wishing you had her hair or her figure or her energy or her gifts. But you are not her, you are you.

You have unique gifts, talents, and abilities. You can improve upon what God has given you, you can wisely steward what He has given you, but you cannot change who He has created you to be.

So instead of living life wishing you were someone else, embrace your own uniqueness. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get up when she gets up, or decorate your home like she decorates hers, or fit into the size of jeans she does, or juggle all the activities and responsibilities she does.

Your life and goals are going to look different from others — and that is completely okay. In fact, if everyone were a carbon copy of each other, wouldn’t life be dull and colorless?

Do the best you can with the energy, gifts, talents, and resources you have in the season of life you are in. And then be free from guilt!

Pick a few priorities and let the other stuff go.

People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” And the simple truth is: I only have a few priorities — and I seek to do a good job at those priorities. Then, I let a bunch of other stuff go.

And by a bunch, I mean a bunch of other stuff.

I don’t cook gourmet meals, I don’t host elaborate parties, and I’m the farthest thing from a fashionista.

I don’t sew. I don’t really garden. I don’t head up any organizations or run any committees.

My children are only involved in one extracurricular sport/activity right now (they are all taking ice-skating lessons) and we stay home all day at least two or three days most weeks.

I have a fantastic team of people who help with all the behind-the-scenes stuff for, I have a full-time assistant, and I have a mother’s helper who comes in one day each week.

So while I might do a good job of reading aloud to my children most weeks, I might accomplish a number of my weekly goals, I might read quite a few books, and I might update this blog frequently, the only reason I have time to do those things is because I’ve chosen to say “no” to a lot of other things that I’ve deemed aren’t priorities in my life right now.

Give yourself grace.

You are never going to be where you want to be. There will always be something undone or left to do. And as soon as you complete one project, there’s another project (or five) that needs to be completed.

Don’t beat yourself up that you’re not as far as you’d like to be. Instead, give yourself grace, and focus on the progress you have made and are making.

Rather than becoming discouraged that you have 12 things left on your to-do list to do and it’s 10:30 p.m., be encouraged that you accomplished three of the things you set out to do today.

When you have a day when it seems like nothing gets done and you just go around and around in circles, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.

And remember: Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored not run through at breakneck speed. Take time to stop and smell the roses, even if it means fewer things get crossed off the to-do list!

…to be continued tomorrow

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  • deborah says:

    Thank-you for being so real, Crystal! I totally agree with it all. I really like what you said about not comparing yourself to others. I definitely believe this, but it can be hard to practice!!

    I also enjoyed hearing what your priorities are and that you have help and you don’t do it all. To be honest, there have been times that I’ve read your posts and felt envious of all the things you accomplish. 🙂 I think listing a days accomplishments is a good idea, because it shows you in black and white, what you DID get done. It always looks better written down!

    This is a great series! Blessings!

  • Brandy says:


    If you weren’t such a sweetheart, I would assume that you have bugged my house and are actually a spy. 🙂 I was just tonight telling my husband how I don’t understand how other moms do all they do and why I can’t do it. I am in week three as a stay at home mom and I was feeling so discouraged by the fact that I am yet to complete my to do list on a single day! I so needed to hear this right now! When God allowed for me to become a stay at home mom, I am quite certain he didn’t do it so that my house could be cleaner!! I so needed this post to remind me to get my priorities back to where they need to be. Thanks for a (once again) very timely post!

    • Donna says:

      There’s always new dirt and dust- and dirty dishes- but there’s never another “today” with your kids!

      How wonderful of God, to let you be home!!! He’s precious!

    • Quintana says:

      Hang in there Brandy! Transitioning to a SAHM was one of the hardest things I did! I think it’s because you know you are home now and there is SO much you want to do. Just take it one day at a time. And like Crystal said, make priorities. Congrats on your new venture!

    • Lana says:

      Coming home is a huge change and it takes time to adjust. I dragged a neighbor 15 years younger than me through it about 12 years ago. Some days she would show up on my doorstep just crying her eyes out because she had no idea how to just be at home. You’ll make it and it is so worth it! 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Hang in there! Taking care of kids IS a full time job! Sounds like your list needs to be shorter ; ) I would suggest adding feed yourself, feed kids, etc to your list : )

  • Susan says:

    I so needed this right now – thank you!

  • I’ve been pondering this a lot lately too…I have taken a much lighter approach to my “to-do list” recently, and have let go of a lot of unnecessary things in the process.

    At the bottom of my to-do list everyday (which is fairly basic in this season of life), I leave a “Done” category to be filled in. This includes things that weren’t in my original to-do list, but things I accomplished that gave my day purpose. Today’s “Done” list included: Took my daughter to lunch and let her pick out a new pair of shoes (as a VERY special mommy-daughter date before baby comes), had a nice chat with my mom, and prayed with a friend. I still got dinner on the table, cleaned up, and folded laundry, but I also let go of a few things in order to cultivate things I deemed more important…my relationships with family and friends.

    Trying to “do it all” left me discouraged and frustrated every day, but by reminding myself that some of the most important things in life are intangible and can’t be written on a to-do list, I am able to enjoy life more and live more intentionally. 🙂

  • Kris says:

    Well said!!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Man I needed this post! The lack of things done is definitely driving me crazy right now. You described it perfectly with going in circles. My husband recently graduated from his masters and we moved a few weeks ago so the kids would have more space and we’d have a shorter commute. It is taking for ever to get unpacked and remotely child friendly. Many days I feel like all I do is trip over stuff just to get to more stuff to unpack, clean and then find it doesn’t work where I thought it did and I go into more stuff shifting. It has been very disheartening, but a post like this was refreshing and supportive to see I’m not the only one! Now if I can just find peace in the now and quit worrying about the never ending to do list (because I can always add 20 more items to it!), THAT will be an accomplishment. Any ideas on how to let go?

  • Vera says:

    I’m totally in love with this article. Us as moms are always under so much pressure so be the best at everything and this article just helps remind us that we are not perfect but should be grateful for what we DO have or what we ARE good at.

  • Crystal,

    Wow. I SO needed this right now. Thank you so much. You are a blessing to me.

  • Heather says:

    You know your comment about being at home 2 or 3 days a week with your children really hit home for me tonight. I have been comparing myself to other moms who are always on the go with their kids and doing this and doing that….I was beginning to doubt myself. I was doubting that maybe my 3 year old needs to me involved in more playdates, more learning, more extra activities, more scheduled stuff even if its just an hour or 2 each day outside of the home. (Plus, the benefit is that we are not home making a mess while we are gone…right?!) I wondered if I was doing my child a dis-service and will she be lacking later on down the road? Nice to know that I am not the only one who is home 2-3 days a week and is okay with it. Any other moms feel this same way?

    • Donna says:

      Heather, with my first, I wasn’t sure where God was leading me, but I found Him shutting doors often, where he didn’t want me…and my son.

      But- as a mom now of 6, there is some absolutely WONDERFUL things in the isolation of our homes! (You curl up with a book, under a table with a blanket over it, and you can go everywhere in the world with your child!)

      “HOME” will be where our children spend most of their “normal lives”, now and when they’re adults. I personally think it’s a great thing for them to learn contentment in the home. It is a deep and wonderful gift to give a child the security that can only be found in a good home.

      You cannot get that in too many places out in the big world 😉

      • Heather says:

        Donna thank you for the response. Your first sentence has opened my eyes to the fact that maybe its an unanswered prayer on what I was thinking I was trying to create and that God had other plans. Doors have been slamming shut this last month and I was beginning to wonder… Your perspective is refreshing to reflect that this will have lasting benefits to our girl in adulthood. Thanks again…

    • Heather says:

      There is much research to say that kids of that age need more unscheduled free time, NOT more scheduled activities. It is important for their development of creativity and many other things that kids have “empty” time to fill on their own. Even at home, mommy shouldn’t be planning out everything they do.

    • Quintana says:

      Think of it this way too….If you get burnt out running kids from here to there, then there to here, imagine how THEY must feel. My kids aren’t involved in anything but church activities, that keeps us busy enough! Keeping my kids away from outside activities also helps for me not to have to deal with behavior issues that may arise from families whose beliefs are not the same.

    • Lana says:

      I raised and homeschooled 5 children and staying home was one of my biggest priorities. I always advise young mothers to just stay home. Your children are just fine playing at home and getting the needed chores and cooking and laundry done everyday becomes almost impossible if you are never home.

    • Ac says:

      I read a saying recently that I can’t remember verbatim but it was something along the lines of some women have more miles on the road than in their home. Essentially saying that it’s time and energy better spent being AT home than being on the road going from activity to activity. I find we’re all more at peace when we spend more time at home.

  • Summer says:

    Gosh I love this series! I just read….”Comparison is the thief of joy”-Theodore Roosevelt

  • Donna says:

    2 Cor 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

    Great and Godly advice, Crystal!

  • Tara G. says:

    A Life Well-Spent by Russ Crosson addresses some of the same things you’ve mentioned- that margin (he quoted a lot from that book, too). I find that when I focus on those priorities that God has given me, I really am not that tempted to add in a lot of extraneous things to clutter it all up…life is full and satisfying.

  • Emily says:

    Thank you for these posts. They come at a particularly good (difficult) ime for me. I’ve had three children in less than 3 years and have been struggling with post partum anxiety since the last was born (6 months). These posts are all things that I’ve heard from my husband or friends, but to see it all laid out together has been a helpful reminder. Especially the water, fruits and veggies, and taking it easy. Already, I try to have only one or two things that I really want to do for the day and figure anything else is bonus. But I can still get in a bad rut. Thanks for reminding me that it’s ok to just sit on the couch with my babies and watch shows.

    • Catherine says:

      Post partum anxiety is awful! I am so sorry to hear you are experiencing it. I had it after my second baby and it took a while for me to consider meds. I’m not sure if you have thought about it but, they really helped me to get my brain and body functioning again without the panic. They don’t have to be a lifetime commitment as my doctor said that sometimes it just takes a bit to reset your systems back to normal. Just wanted to let you know that it can get better but sometimes it takes a little pharmaceutical help :-). Good luck!!!!

    • Lana says:

      You may want to look into some natural progesterone cream. There is a alot of good advice in any book or article online written by Dr John R Lee (Jr). You can purchase it at the healthfood store or from Vitacost in most states.

    • Jennifer says:

      I didn’t have anxiety, but I did suffer from ppd. My dr put me on meds and told me to stay on them until I was consistently getting 6 straight (read: not broken cumulative) hours of sleep each night. After that I was allowed to wean myself off of them. For me, relief was instant. A big part of that was the psychological relief of actually choosing to get help. I hope that you are able to find some help, whether or not you choose medication.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks, all for the help and concern. I’ve been getting progesterone treatments (shots) off and on since January and recently got some oral. I had an appt today with our family dr. He prescribed Prozac. And said to give it 8-10 months if not a year. Any experience? I know I wanted help but now I’m scared of side effects.

      • Beth says:

        This may be a stretch, but if you’re nervous/anxious and hot all the time, and your hair is falling out, or you’re losing weight, it could be your thyroid. Postpartum thyroiditis is when it goes arwry sometime in the first year after giving birth…I had this and went from hyperthyroid (too much hormone) to hypothyroid (too little) and am currently medicated for it, which helped immensely. A simple blood test (TSH level) can tell if something’s amiss.

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I am 8 months pregnant and have a 3 year old son. Lately I feel like I can’t keep up. I work full time, with Wednesdays off. I have been cleaning every other Wednesday for my Grandma, but it’s getting to be too much (and she graciously recognized that) Today she we just get together and go out for lunch. Which sounds wonderful, but I felt like I was going to be wasting so much precious time while I could be getting so many “things” done at home. I even spent some time last night making to do lists for me and my husband…things that I feel need to be done before the baby arrives. After reading your post I feel so much more relaxed! I’m going to lunch today and I’m just going to enjoy some relaxing time with my grandmother. Some of the things on my list will obviously need done, but most of them I think I’m just going to let go of! Thank you so much for taking the time to help me see what’s important!

    • Ac says:

      I’m not a huge fan of John Lennon’s but I do love this saying: “Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.”

    • Amy says:

      I miss both of my grandmothers dearly!! Don’t ever regret choosing time with them over getting things done! 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Very timely post for not only me but others who have posted. My anxiety is building as we are planning on visiting family(both sides) for the month of June as well as self doubt. This really was a great reminder of God’s great plan for each of us & that we’re doing exactly what is in His plan. Sometimes it helps to see it in writing. Thank you!

  • Jody Susan says:

    “Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored not run through at breakneck speed. Take time to stop and smell the roses, even if it means fewer things get crossed off the to-do list!” <- Very good advice.

    I was riding the train a few months ago, and had a big to-do list. An older man nearby said, "Excuse me, Miss, but we are about to pass through some of the prettiest parts of the country. I noticed you are pretty wrapped up in your work – you might want to look up every now and then, or you will miss them."

    He was talking about that moment, but I knew it was a statement for my life. I get so wrapped up in my to-do lists that I miss the prettiest parts of life. I closed my book and enjoyed the view. 🙂

    • Michele G says:

      I want so much to take a moment to smell the roses but with seven children, being a full-time student and a Christian it seems impossible. I’m so overwhelmed, unemployed and I beginning to become depressed. I realize that it is a trick of the enemy and I pray through the tears. I guess what I’m asking is what can I do until I get to my breakthrough?

      • Melissa says:

        I don’t know what to tell you, maybe someone else will have some words of wisdom for you, but you are carrying a very large load, and I am praying for you today. ((((((hugs))))))

  • Meredith Roxburgh says:

    This is such a great post and I am thoroughly enjoying this series! My husband and I both work from home and realized that we only have 4 hours out of each day that neither one of us is working :(. It took a recent vacation to put our priorities back in order.
    Along with giving ourselves grace and having a wonderful team, I think it’s really important to accept help or hire help (if we can afford it). That is something I struggled with when I was new Mom. I thought to be a good Mom, I had to do all of it myself! I feel so much better these days being direct with my husband for his help in household chores, asking relatives or friends for help, and considering moving aside money in our budget for hiring help (like I said, we work a lot!).
    Thanks so much Crystal, I love your blog! Blessings!!!

  • Tara says:

    This post makes me feel so much better on so many different levels.However,what if you truly have faults that NEED to change but you can’t seem to have control over? For example, I am such a terrible morning person that my kids are often late for school.Often. Do I just “let that go” and forgive myself? And that’s only 1 example of my faults that need to change, LOL!

    • Momof5 says:

      Tara, that’s not a fault – that’s a scheduling issue 🙂 You’re not a “terrible” person of any sort – but your morning routine isn’t working for you. Start there – by looking at the routine, not thinking of it as a fault – and I bet you’ll find some ways to make it work better.

      And really look at what your schedule and your kids need when you put that routine in place. Crystal’s morning routine would never work for me, though I wish it would – but I have one that does (hubby drops the teenagers at school on his way to work, so I just stay out of their way until the door slams and then the little ones and I have a slightly more peaceful prep time). Most moms I know would have pretty mean things to say about my staying in bed until the first group of kids is out the door, but they’re old enough to make their own decisions about whether & what to eat for breakfast, for example, and it cuts waaay down on the conflict if I don’t see the choices they make. So look at your own situation, set your own goals (yes, teaching children to honor their commitments by getting places on time is a worthy goal 🙂 ), and find a routine that works for you – you can do it!

    • Ac says:

      When it is negatively impacting others (as being late to school is doing to your kids), it’s definitely something you need to address. Maybe you could do more in the evenings to prepare for the mornings or perhaps there is something in your morning routine that you need to “let go” to be on time?

  • Deb says:

    I’m not good at saying no to things, which is something I’ve really been working on. Since I cut out many activities and responsibilities (and a lot of housework is not getting done) I’m so much happier and more relaxed. The work I’m actually doing is much higher quality, and my kids are definitely benefiting from having a relaxed mom!
    Someone said to me the other day, “I just don’t know how you do it all!” And I said, “Have you seen the dirty dishes in my kitchen and the baskets of laundry that need to be folded? That’s how I ‘do it all’.” 😉 You are so right. No one does it all!

  • Jennifer says:

    I usually overload my to do list each day. But I don’t beat myself up if I don’t finish it, I just carry over whatever still needs to be accomplished to the next day. As several people above have mentioned, there will always be more dust. I do try to do a load of laundry at least every other day so that my hubby always has clean underwear. And I try to run the dishwasher at least every other day so that we don’t run out of clean dishes. Everything else is negotiable unless I know we are having company…and even then, some stuff is still negotiable depending on who the company is 🙂 I am not embarrassed to be seen straightening up when I have family over (we have small home with an open floor plan so I can still visit while making my house presentable).

  • Amanda says:

    You are RIGHT! We can’t do it all!

    When we started fostering and then I got pregnant, I decided that SOMETHING had to give! SO, we quit swim lessons, and I hired a college girl to come in twice a month to clean my bathrooms and kitchen.

    I think that even more than the tangible help these changes provide, it also relieved the mental stress it relieved. I didn’t have to keep thinking, “I should really clean this bath tub” every day because I knew it would get done!

  • Crystal, thanks for sharing. I have a very similar philosophy.

  • Shelly says:

    I have to be careful with my to do lists for the day. I have a tendency to make them to long. I also am more careful with my weekly goals. I find myself upset if I can’t get it all done and so I try to keep in mind what I can get done while making up my goals for the week.
    I know that this week I have had to pray many times for the Lord to help me be happy with where I am. Since I started blogging I really have to be aware of comparing myself to others. Otherwise the joy I get from blogging or being a mother just evaporates as I start to compare my self to others. This is a great post to remind us that you can’t do it all and to give ourself grace. Most of the time I am my worst critic. Thanks

  • Jeannie says:

    I LOVE the idea of picking a few things to focus on during this season of life and letting the other things go. I feel a ton of pressure to be the perfect woman. Thanks for reminding us that is not realistic or even necessary.

  • Laurie says:

    Six months ago I left a 5 day a week job. Since that time I now work 3 12 hr shifts a week as a nurse. I am a single mom by choice to 2 adopted girls from china who are now 4&8. Adopted as infants. Since I will always be working I needed and wanted more time at home. It has been life changing and my 4 year old and I have bonded so well. A big shout out to the Lord for waking me up!!!! We are home all the time and I like others have no commitments outside of our church. My children can do most household chores now and we as a family get so much done. I will admit on my days off I do sleep every afternoon with my youngest. That is a priority for me and I am a much better mom for getting a nap in. I do not ever make a to do list or have goals,but I know these times will not be here forever so I rejoice in the simple daily blessings. Being home also saves us money. Thanks for the great post Crystal.

  • Colleen says:

    Thank you for this post. I needed this right now. I am prego with my 3rd and will have 3 kids under age 3. I also work full time and will continue to work full time. It is very hard to get the extra things done with little kids, but I do try to make small progress. I remind myself everyday that the kids grow up way too fast and my stuff can wait. I would rather play with them and enjoy life.

  • Gina says:

    Aw. I commented last night and now it’s gone. 🙁

    I couldn’t agree more, Crystal! This is a great blog post! Thank you for sharing so candidly. I’m a single mother of 6 and I’m often asked how I do it all. Like you, I limit my priorities.

    Your blog is such an inspiration. Thank you!!

    • Crystal says:

      Your comment got stuck in spam and then when I transferred it out of spam early this morning, it completely disappeared. I’m so sorry — and so glad you came back and commented so I could tell you thank you for your encouragement and I’m sorry that your sweet comment got eaten up by some blog glitch!

  • Kaitlin says:

    Crystal – Thank you so much for sharing your priorities and what you don’t do. That may sound awful but it was a reality check I needed!

    After we had our 2nd child 5 months ago – I’ve decided to stay home and I’ve been struggling daily with not being able to have a perfect house/life now that it is “my job”. I sometimes feel inadequate because I don’t have a blog, an etsy store, or even an organized coupon folder . But right now I have 2 beautiful, healthy, happy kids, 2 spoiled rotten dogs, a wonderful supportive and helpful husband and I can thank the Lord for that each and every day. As the kids get older I will add priorities, but right now I’m trying to let somethings go (hard for my CPA, Type-A self) and just focus on what I can. So I greatly appreciate your honestly and a glimpse into how you do “it all” and the comments of your readers. Just what I needed this week!

  • Shauna says:

    Thank you! I really needed to read this today. I have been in an ‘inadequate mommy’ rut lately. This was refreshing to read!

  • Lora says:

    No words, so many moms saying “I needed to hear this” and here I have to say the same thing. Thanks so much!

  • Debbie says:

    Thank you!!!! I needed this post so much today. I’m a single mom with an 11 yr recently diagnosed with Autism and I work full time. Some days I’m so tired I barely get thru the week taking care of my child and his siblings….I pray to God for guidance and strength. I love my life but often feel like I should be able to do more give them more. My house is my last priority and personal time is a dream beyond preparing for our next day. Society tells us if we aren’t supermom we are lazy and selfish. This is wrong when did being responsible and trying to find balance without every minute of your life being scheduled become wrong.

  • Susan says:

    This is just what I needed to hear. I have been job hunting for a long time and have had a lot of disappointments. On the other hand, I’ve had two years to spend with my son, who is now six years old. I am having a hard time keeping up with the household chores and job hunting. If I don’t have a clean house and a certain number of applications done, I am not a failure. I will be happy with the great things that I do accomplish and quit beating myself up for the things I had to let slide.

  • Cassi says:

    While I would not say I am burnt out…I can really relate to the part of this post about being unable to do it all. I get swamped with requests for things linked to my job as a teacher and I have a hard time saying no. Some times it is out of obligation, other times it is because doing it is a goal that I wish to accomplish. It is HARD!
    As a teacher, I also got roped in to coaching…a position that I should have asked a million more questions about! The season runs from November through April and takes up my weekdays until 5:30pm and then takes me away from my kids most Saturdays. I am currently trying very hard to get rid of this one obligation so that I have time for the others that are priorities. Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row that I have resigned-I have my fingers crossed that it will be accepted this year (I find out Friday)
    I coach soccer (hated it but invested some time in it to better understand it and be better at it and now I look forward to many more seasons!)
    I am the Vice President of the South Dakota Council of Teachers of English-will be president in a year! (This was a huge goal for me to have accomplished and, although it is a 6 year commitment, it is one of my favorite ones!) I get a paid trip to a national teaching conference during my leadership term which in my mind more than pays for the time I invest in it.
    I love the many things that I do but I am learning to say no and get out of things when I realize my plate is full! I just removed myself from a position on our local teaching board which relieved a lot of stress!

  • Meredith says:

    I have a cleaning lady come every couple of weeks. Best money I have spent. Having the house cleaned all at once makes it SO much easier to keep up on. I felt ashamed at first, but now I tell every mom I meet because I don’t think women should feel ashamed to ask for help! After terrible ppd after my first baby, I knew a messy house was a huge source of anxiety for me. So, with my second little one, we made it a priority in our budget so I could be a better mom and happier wife! Thanks for this post!

  • Melanie says:

    Thank you so much for this post; I needed to read it. I spend way too much time and energy comparing myself frequently to my seemingly perfect sister-in-law, which truly robs me of personal joy! She’s beautiful, smart, well-off…she has gorgeous, well-behaved kids. Her house is immaculate, and she finds the time to go out on dates with her husband and girls’ nights multiple times a week! I don’t know how she does it. But you’re so right: no woman is “superwoman,” and everyone has flaws. What I see on Facebook isn’t necessarily indicative of her inner struggles.

    But how do you stop that inner monologue? When that “I’m not worthy” voice creeps up in my head, how do I quell it?

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