There is still an unpacked box in my master bedroom bath.  I have lived in my new house for 6 weeks now, and I still haven’t set up my master bath. We found our toothbrushes though so it is ok.

The chaos I have sailed through included 9 months of a 3-bedroom house with 5 kids and two dogs living in it, being on the market. Two realtors and too many showings later it sold. Now to pack up all our sh*t and move.  Down to the week before we were not sure of the move day, which actually became three days. Move out, wait, move in.  We stayed calm only to have our daughter develop mono (before she packed), my husband break his wrist as we moved in and several other things including a growth in our business. Three weeks later for the first time in my life (I’m 47) I hosted my family for Christmas.

The chaos was fast and furious.  How to get unpacked, keep working, and catch up my homeschooler (we didn’t school for a week during the move).  There was a list two miles long of things I had to do and wanted to do.  I wanted to crawl into a corner but I was spinning so fast I found it hard to even sit.

When chaos hits your life do you crumble and let it spin you down that spiral? I want to share with you my five steps of dealing with chaos and staying productive and happy, not allowing yourself to spin.

How do we face life’s chaos and not get pulled in.  This recent life experience has shown me a five step method to keeping the spin on low.

  • BREATHE – First thing is to breathe. You can only do so much. Take a moment to realize that this chaos ebbs and flows like the ocean.  It is not always tumultuous like the day after a storm. There will be a crystal clear quiet ocean again. It is the way of the world. Count to 10 or 100 if need be. Close your eyes and imagine the chaos gone. Note: with big nasty chaos you may need to repeat this step many times.  There is no limit on how many times you can visit this step.
  • PRIORITIZE – Once you have slowed your spin, try to prioritize. What absolutely needs to get done?  My toothbrush must be found or I have to go buy one. Ordering the new cover for my couch, or replace the rug in the front hall, not so much.  Taking stock of what the really important things are and concentrating on them can be incredibly freeing. Perhaps chose one at a time and keep picking away at it until it is complete, then move on to the next important.  Having a smaller list can also increase productivity. Feeling the sense of accomplishment in getting that one thing done is way better than feeling bad that you only got 16 of the 20 things done that you wanted to.
  • DELEGATE – You are not an island! I have not met anyone in quite some time that has not even one person around to help. People love to help. What things can you delegate to others? I let my 19 year old set up the kitchen and play Santa, asked my 20-23 year old boys to carry stuff (constantly), even had my 10 year old doing odd jobs. I let go of the need to do everything myself and gave my husband jobs knowing that done was imperative.  All of these things could be tweaked or adjusted later once we had towels and beds set up, not just mattresses on the floor.
  • REALITY CHECK – All of this was very helpful, but I also needed numerous daily check ins with reality. My sister and my mother were not going to judge me at Christmas if I don’t have a dining room set. I am not super woman, even though I did paint two bedrooms in one day. Reality is I probably should have taken 2 or three days to do that. Looking at the realistic side of things, instead of what we believe we can do, or what people will think, can really lesson the velocity of the chaotic spin.
  • BE GRATEFUL – Gratefulness and celebration are like super powers against the chaos. Being able to celebrate that we as a family had made it to a house that fits, was like an emergency brake to the chaos. Even if you are celebrating checking one thing off the two-mile long list, shifts the focus away from the chaos. Decorating our Christmas tree without having to rearrange furniture like we did in our tiny living room was a huge win. Small wins add up and lead to that calm ocean.

We have reached a much lower level of chaos.  We all have beds assembled, Christmas is over, I know where my toothbrush and my shoes are, and the list is not so long. We weathered this major storm and didn’t get sucked into the vortex. The next time crazy chaos taps on your shoulder try these tips to calm the storm.