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Need a complete life/habit overhaul and don't know where to start

(85 Posts)
Steala Sat 18-Mar-17 09:43:43

Has anyone turned their life/habits around? I'm very fortunate to have all the big things in place:happily married, healthy family, no money worries, lovely home, and yet I'm descending into chaos.

I have three children and full time work and my life is a series of remimders of forms I should have returned to the school, birthday cards posted on the day itself, clutter (oh the clutter), emails telling me how late I am for a smear test, dentist appointment, eye test, falling further and further behind in my work, clashing appointments and overflowing laundry. I feel totally overwhelmed. For every task I do, two or three more accumulate. For every item I devlutter, Four or five more things appear. How do I reverse this spiral of chaos?

Added to that, my diet is appalling (feed my children healthily though), I barely ever exercise and I'm now nearly a stone overweight. I look so slovenly: done nothing to hair, eyebrows for nearly a year and can only fit into one pair of jeans, which I wash overnight.

I don't know where to start or I do start but never finish because there are so so so many other starts going on. DH does his share and he is on top of what he does. This is about my terrible habits, rather than lack of support.

Any tips?

wonderlesswoman Sat 18-Mar-17 09:45:10

Watching! Same boat.

Cagliostro Sat 18-Mar-17 09:46:18

I have absolutely no idea 😱

Cornflake15 Sat 18-Mar-17 09:52:18

Maybe start by reading a book to inspire change? A good one is Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. She talks about habits and personality types etc.
Otherwise I would pick one thing you want to tackle first (eg getting rid of clutter) as if you want to change everything all at once it won't work, you will be overwhelmed.

ChuckDaffodils Sat 18-Mar-17 09:55:10

I should have returned to the school, birthday cards posted on the day itself, clutter (oh the clutter), emails telling me how late I am for a smear test, dentist appointment, eye test, falling further and further behind in my work, clashing appointments and overflowing laundry.

Would a house calender or diary not assist with most of these? And a Bullet Journal for your work stuff. And get the family to take a share of the launder and clutter. Why is this your job? When you say he does his share what is his share? Seems the dregs are left to you here.

TheseAreTheGoodOldDays Sat 18-Mar-17 09:58:06


I have one with a list of the months at the front so I can write varies events, then when I find myself in a card shop I buy all cards I need for the next couple of months. Birthday gifts - shop online, get them delivered, job done!

In terms of personal appointments, once you have your diary, sit down and ring anywhere you need to - hairdresser, dentist, opticians, beauticians etc and make your appointments. When said appointment has been attended, before you leave, get out your diary and make your next one e.g. 6-8 weeks later for you hair (I appreciate people can't always do this depending on what they work, I'm lucky that I have set days off).

In terms of school letters, I complete anything that needs doing there and then, then jot down anything that I need to (in my diary wink) like kids parties, world book day at school etc. A quick look over the following week on a Friday night works wonders, gives you time over the weekend to sort out anything you may have forgotten.

grumpysquash3 Sat 18-Mar-17 10:03:40

OP, I think lots of people will come on this thread and tell you they feel exactly the same. I also have 3DC and work full time and have the feeling of juggling glass balls (in the sense of if one thing slips it leads to a whole lot of things slipping). I'm not sure I have the solution. What helps for me is to write things down; I use my email Outlook calendar and I put in reminders to do things, appointments that are issued far ahead, things out of the school calendar, not just holidays but things like World Book Day that need costumes etc. I also have a basic list of shopping at Tesco online and often shove that into my basket with a few other bits and get it delivered.
The only other strategy that really works for me is to figure out what is the one thing that I mind the most, and focus on that. Buy jeans could be top of your list smile

Steala Sat 18-Mar-17 10:21:51

Thank you all.

Cornflake, your suggestion made me laugh, not because it wasn't good advice but because I got 6 chapters through that very book until I flirted onto something else (indicative of my problem).

Chuck and these, I do have a calendar but struggle to remember to put things in it or check it. I carry all the dates around in my head and it's taking up too much head space. I also find that I open a school letter while I'm at work (they're all email only) and then forget about it by the time I get home and am able to do something about it. Perhaps a bullet journal would help with that. I have tried in the past but (you'll never guess what), couldn't keep it up. So, perhaps bullet journal and more effort into the diary.

But first, yes, grumpy, I really do need more jeans!

Cornflake15 Sat 18-Mar-17 12:11:45

LOL about the book! It did help me at least with exercise, I decided to walk 30-40 minutes every day and I've mostly been able to keep that up, for over a year now. I think you just have to want something to change enough to commit to it, but just choose one thing to tackle.
As for lists, I have several half finished lists in my phone, which I never go back to and I can't use outlook reliably, the best way for me is to have a diary/planner that is stuck on the kitchen wall and all our appointments etc go on there. Then I have a notebook full of other stuff to do which lives in my bag and I cross things off when they are done or add a note at the side. I'm a lot like you, get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I'm supposed to remember and deal with and if it's not on my kitchen planner then it's not going to happen!

Haggisfish Sat 18-Mar-17 12:15:03

Same here! Some things I do that help-bulk buy packs of birthday cards and wrapping paper and kept
In one place with stamps. Immediately fill in any school letter replies, write in calendar and take photo of letter to keep.

affectionincoldclimate Sat 18-Mar-17 12:38:06

If you are serious about it then do something more than read a book. I was a bit like you several years ago. I read some books but it was all surface and couldn't make it stick.
Then I did this course called a Landmark Forum. I was apprehensive at first as it had bad rep on the internet with people accusing it of being a cult but as it was recommended by someone I trusted I decided to go and try it out (could always leg it if i didn't like it right?). Also guardian journo gave it a good review and I thought I'd rather trust them than message boards from 2007. turns out it's not a cult (although you do have to get through Americanisms and be ready to hear some home truths that you've been avoiding hearing - which is why you feel like that in the first place so its worth sitting through it - it's 3 full days and 400 quid or something like that so good value if you look at the amount of time you get for that and the fact that they give you a 10 session seminar afterwards thrown in so you can practice the tools you've been given. So if you do want an overhaul rather than just tweaking - it was single most effective thing I've ever done that made me look at my life from a completely new angle and I still use the tools I learned there for dealing with life: communication, family, conflict and most of all organising myself and sticking to my commitments. In terms of tangible results, my relationship improved immensely, I really reconnected with my mum, started saving and bought a house and my career took off as my confidence got a nice boost and that's all that was needed. Oh and I started training and lost heap of weight and got very fit like I never believed I could (we are talking six pack which i never believed I could have in a million years). Six pack is gone as I'm very pregnant at the moment grin

Also still read the books (Marie Kondo who encourages decluttering is a life changer) but my understanding of them has deepened as had ability to follow them and stick to the method (which is key as I struggled with it before)

So yeah, worth every penny.

BrieAndChilli Sat 18-Mar-17 12:44:43

I feel like you most of the time.
What has helped me is

The whole family did a massive Dec litter of every room and cupboard. Once the house was in order I felt my mental state lifting straight away and because is was all tidy it was much easier to keep on top of it (rather than doing one room at a time over several weeks which by the time you do so she the last one the first ones is chaos again!)
Then I made an effort to keep things up to date in my diary and on a Sunday I sit down with the pile of paperwork/emails on my phone and update it, we are certainly much more organised now.
I also sit down on a Sunday and plan the meals so I don't have to think every day what we are eating etc.

ZilphasHatpin Sat 18-Mar-17 12:50:31

OP do you get enough sleep? I feel very much like you and I've tried many times to sort myself out. The one thing I have noticed each time is that when I get a couple of decent nights sleep I am far more capable of remembering and doing all the things I need to do. It all kind of falls into place. So I've decided that tackling my sleep habits is the first thing I should do. My sleep routine was appalling. I've had maybe 4 nights of great sleep (8 hours!!) and I feel so much more energised during the day. The mornings aren't the matchstick eyes slog the were. I am actually waking up feeling ready to get up. Worth looking at if your sleep isn't the best as it affects your whole life.

Steala Sat 18-Mar-17 13:14:53

Thank you everyone for all the tips. I now have new jeans and cards for the next three birthdays and Mother's Day!

Affection, you're very brave to do Landmark. I'm sure it's just what I need but I think I'm too emotionally fragile to put myself through it at the moment.

Zip, you may be spot on. I'm not sleeping well at all - worrying, anxiety dreams. Perhaps sorting out sleep and my diet should be a priority for me. If I feel better physically and do not lurch through the day from coffee to coffee, I hope I feel less panicky and overwhelmed by it all.

LateToTheParty Sat 18-Mar-17 13:24:21

Agree with previous posters:

KonMari (Marie Kondo's method of tidying) to clear the clutter.

Bullet Journal as a day to day organiser and to help with longer terms plans.

I've found using both has really helped me get my shit together.

Having a calmer, more ordered home makes it easier to do, well, everything (!), and reduce the general anxiety of feeling as though I'm only ever firefighting all the household admin etc, which in turn has provided the headspace and time to do other things like improve my diet (have lost half a stone recently) and get round to stuff like printing & hanging family photos, tidying the garden etc.

ZilphasHatpin Sat 18-Mar-17 13:37:42

Perhaps sorting out sleep and my diet should be a priority for me.

Definitely! I have come to the conclusion that sleep is the key to everything. Rarely hope you can crack it OP. I am feeling so much better after just a few days of ensuring I get quality sleep. I made a commitment to it by purchasing good quality dunlopillo and a new duvet and new bedding. I bought a new memory foam mattress a few months ago so I'm all good on the comfort front. Trying to make my bed my favourite place to be so I go earlier at night.

Graceflorrick Sat 18-Mar-17 13:40:15

Do you use a diary?

RubyWinterstorm Sat 18-Mar-17 13:49:20

Do you have a partner?

If you do, why are you alone responsible fir the wifework?

Steala Sat 18-Mar-17 19:23:00

DH does do a lot - all the driving, all the big purchases: holidays, days out etc, about 1/4 of the laundry, 1/3 the cooking, a shop most weeks, sports stuff for the children, a little bit of homework and his stuff is generally tidy. I do more of the childcare, school runs, much more of the homework, meeting teachers etc (one DC has SEN), all the school costumes and other school requests, dinner money, school trips, mufti days, music lessons, extracurricular clubs, all the play dates, most of the birthday parties, photo albums, the rest of the laundry and cooking. We clean probably equally and are lucky to have a cleaner.

He really does do his share. I think the difference perhaps is that he'll do things if I ask him to (e.g. Medical appointments, dentist) whereas the default is me so it takes up headspace and I'm the one that worries when balls get dropped or I wake up with a racing heart. I also feel responsible for the mess of four of us (the messy four), whereas he assumes responsibility for his own mess primarily.

But, as I said at the start, this is about my habits, rather than a lack of support.

I try to use a diary but just don't manage to write in it or check it regularly. It probably is the key because reading the list above shows not so much that I have too much to do (although who doesn't with full time work and three kids?!) but too much to remember. If I can trust myself to write everything in one place that would solve a lot. Why can't I manage it??

369thegoosedrankwine Sat 18-Mar-17 20:20:07

I'm going to give a different piece of advice - have you tried meditation? Seriously, meditation has helped clear my mind to allow me to realise what is important, and part of that is realising there will always be something to do. I have a 10 minute app on my phone that I listen to and it helps me relax and helps me feel able to face the day ahead.

Like you, my days are crazy busy with what feels like never ending lists of things to do, appointments to make, and I never feel I have enough time. I have a new philosophy (helped by meditation) that I can only deal with what I am doing at that moment in time. It helps me not worry about what I haven't yet done, as I find that a lot of my stress was thinking about things rather than doing.

affectionincoldclimate Sat 18-Mar-17 20:28:01

Why can't you trust yourself is probably the big question. One you may want to look at. The rest is just logistics.

Fancy a little exercise? Only if you want smile)

Write out the reasons why you can't trust yourself. Everything out of your head.

Then acknowledge it. Just read it again. Set it aside. Don't engage with it. It's there on the page - leave it.

Get a new piece of paper.

Then write what would be possible if you were able to trust yourself. Really put your back into it. Imagine what your life would look like if you trusted yourself. And go from answer to a question again and again and agai.

Example: What would be possible if I was able to trust myself?

I would write a list of things to do.

And what would be possible then.

I would have everything written down.

And what would be possible then?

I'd complete tasks....


And keep going. Don't stop. You may have thoughts like "Oh but I can't do it". It doesn't matter. The question is: what would be possible if you did so you are just answering that question.

Report back 

Steala Sun 19-Mar-17 08:39:11

affection, you are really good at this and thank you for helping me.

My self-analysis shows I am worried about my disorganisation. If I write things down, I might leave the diary in the wrong place (work or home) or even lose it. I might be too lazy to write in it or even take it out of my bag. I don't like carrying bags so wouldn't always have it with me. I might not be able to maintain the habit of writing in it or checking it.

My coping strategy has been to carry everything in my head. I have an amazing capacity for dates - they just stick with me for years and years. The downside is that I remember the event on the date itself and so if planning is involved, that involves an extra layer of worrying in advance, or leads to cards posted on the date itself. It's also exhausting carrying all of that in my head and has got to the stage where I'm dropping balls.

I think perhaps using my phone calendar is the solution. I am never too lazy to get it out, always have it with me and don't need a bag to carry it.

Thank you all for your help.

369, I am interested in meditation but don't know how to do it! Can you recommend the app you used?

QuiteLikely5 Sun 19-Mar-17 08:53:55


I haven't read the thread so apologies if I'm repeating.

The most crucial thing you need to do is clear out your rubbish.

Including: toys/clothes/paperwork

Get rid of it all - be brutal - if they don't use it, it's too small just let it go.

When you have minimal clothing and toys it improves the mind and makes the mess much less

Have a list pinned to the wall. With important dates and as soon as one comes in write it on your list. Check your list every evening and every morning

ChasedByBees Sun 19-Mar-17 12:28:19

I think one thing I've always meant to do was to have a 12 month expanding folder. In there, letters for that month go (so dentist appts). You also put a list of the birthdays that month and advance buy all the cards at the start of the year. You then write them at the start of the month and post early.

HLBug Sun 19-Mar-17 12:35:09

Perhaps sorting out sleep and my diet should be a priority for me.

No - sorry - booking your late smear test needs to be your priority. Please do this asap OP.

Would you pay more attention to your phone than a written diary (i.e. less likely to lose it?) If so, there are some great lifestyle apps like Wunderlist that might be worth looking in to.

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