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I've had low energy my entire life. As a child, I spent a great deal of my free time reading books. I needed glasses from the age of nine and I can still remember the optometrist saying “There's more to the world than one square foot” meaning I should stop reading so much.
I had an extreme dislike for physical education. I still don't like exercise to this day. As an adult, I've struggled to keep my home in order. As a young mother I found the SHE (Sidetracked Home Executives) System and could really relate. A couple decades later I tuned in to FlyLady, who is licensed to use Pam and Peggy's SHE system. Eventually, I realized these systems only worked for me during the times when I had “bursts of energy” which were far and few between. When I finally felt energetic again, it was so overwhelming that I didn't know where to start. And things were so far out of control that I knew my energy wouldn't last long enough anyway, so I ended up feeling hopeless.
In my mid-30s, I remember being at a friend's home… her daughter and I were trying to solve a computer issue. After not too long, the young woman stood and stretched, claiming she had to get up and move. I remember thinking “kids these days” and how they have no staying power… thinking I had a lot of stamina for staying planted in that computer chair and doggedly pursuing the solution.
Enter GAPS… my energy levels improved, which made me realize it wasn't stamina that allowed me to sit at a computer for hours on end, but low energy!!
I do have more energy, but not as much as I need. I still struggle with housework and getting everything done, and am always looking for help with staying on top of housework. Recently I've been working my way through an e-course which is designed specifically for those of us struggling to get what needs to be done in spite of our low energy. One thing I can tell you from living with low energy – some things are best tackled daily, even if they seem low priority.
Tackle Some Things Even Though They Seem Low Priority
- Brush my hair daily (7 minutes): I have long straight hair. Low energy is one of the main reasons I allow my hair to grow long. It's the easiest way for me to manage my hair. Twist it up in a bun every morning, takes 10 seconds. Voila! I wash my hair once a week. I don't have to fuss with blow drying, styling or going someplace to get my hair cut. However, it tangles easily, especially if I wash my hair and don't brush after it's dried. Brushing my hair is something that I need to spend 2 minutes on every morning and 5 minutes in the evening (brushing and braiding, yes, I timed it). It's so easy to twist my hair into a bun every morning (without brushing) and then let it down to sleep. But doing this means my hair bevomes more tangled each night. THEN it hurts to brush! When it gets to this point, I have to wait until I'm in the right mood to be able to handle the inevitable pain from removing the tangles. For me, it actually causes me to feel stressed and depletes my energy to have to remove tangles.
- Swish the toilet every day (under 1 minute): I have finally learned that due to our hard water and the fact that we allow “yellow to mellow” I absolutely must swish the toilet bowl at least once every day. Even with scrubbing the bowl daily, calcium and lime begins to take hold so once a week I pour in a couple tablespoons of vinegar and leave sit overnight. Doing this under 1-minute chore once daily prevents me from having to scrub by hand (since I refuse to use toxic chemicals).
- Rinse pots, pans, dishes immediately (3 minutes): Making dinner from scratch (as we do much of the time on GAPS) can take a lot of energy leaving one exhausted when it comes time to do the dishes. At minimum, rinse dishes, pots and pans as soon as you are done with them. Otherwise the food sticks and now you have to scrub, or leave them soaking for awhile. I don't recommend filling the sink with water and dishes – if you run out of energy, the water can become gross and stinky before you get to it.
The Energy Budget: Time Management for the Chronically Ill (And Others With Long-Term Roadblocks)
The Energy Budget e-course was created by Rachel Ramey, the blogger at Titus 2 Homemaker. Here's what Rachel says in Module 1: “I suffer from chronic illness myself. It wasn’t too bad at first, so I just slowed down, but over time my condition became worse – and so did the condition of my house. One day I looked around and thought, “this isn’t working“. See, I had a plan for keeping my home running (fairly) smoothly, but I was no longer able to work the plan. I needed to find a new plan that was designed to work around my unpredictable energy levels.”
Reading Rachel's words… that could have been me. When I entered the workforce again after being a stay at home mom for five years I started out working three days a week, now I'm working five days. My job is stressful and I often feel drained emotionally and physically and I definitely need to make adjustments for my energy levels. After a particularly grueling week, I sometimes find it's necessary to spend all day Saturday or Sunday (sometimes both days) in bed, which is incredibly frustarting but occasionally that's what I have to do in order to recover for the past week and regroup for the upcoming week.
Maybe you don’t have a chronic illness. Although this course was written with the chronically ill in mind, there are others in similar situations who may find some of these strategies useful. Hard pregnancies, recovery from injury, lengthy-but-not-chronic illnesses such as mononucleosis, parenting chronically ill kids, even being a first-time parent and learning this very important job on the fly, managing a full-time job with low energy and keeping a home in order, etc. – these are all situations where the standard methods don’t always work.
In the Energy Budget e-course, Rachel is going to guide you through figuring out what needs to be done in your home, how important it is for you and your family and most importantly taking your energy levels into consideration.
The Concept of an Energy Budget
Most households have financial budgets, but the idea of an “energy” budget is a concept that is rarely considered. Most of us recognize that we typically have a finite amount of money to work with, but we seldom recognize that our energy has varying levels. Especially if you have low energy, I've noticed that most of us with chronic illness or low energy work ourselves to exhaustion, but continue to push ourselves, trying to meet certain standards.
The Energy Budget e-course takes your level of energy into consideration when determining what needs to be done to keep your home comfortable. Rachel also realizes what needs to be done vs. what can slide a bit is going to vary from one home to the next. For example, maybe dusting and removing cobwebs is something that you can put off for awhile; unless you're one (or maybe has a family member) who has an allergy to dust mites. Then it will need to go much higher on your priority list.
Rachel is going to help you figure all this out in the Energy Budget e-course. Here are the modules you're going to see along with a brief description:
Why This Course? Minimum Maintenance and Budgeting Strategies
Strategy 1: Fixed / Variable Fixed / Optional Expenditures
Determining what MUST be done (fixed) vs. what can be done sometimes and what is optional.
Strategy 2 – Prioritizing
What's most important for you and Tweaking the Method
Strategy 3 – Minimum “Income” (Energy)
Figuring out your energy levels
Strategy 4 – Dual Budgets
Two strategies for low energy vs. higher energy times
Strategy 5 – Saving Excess
Using the energy surge on the “good days”
Strategy 6 – Budget Cuts
Minimize the effort for getting chores done
Do you have a chronic illness and low energy? Do you find it a challenge to get everything done? What has helped you?