The survival mode I’m okay with

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I really hate functioning in survival mode. I feel strung out and overwhelmed and usually don’t even know where to start to get out. Especially if I’ve  been hanging out in it for too long.

In fact, that was one of the things that compelled me to start this blog. I wanted to give you, and myself, practical solutions to get us out of survival mode.

But life.

You know. Sometimes survival mode just comes at us. And often times we are full into it before we even realize we were even headed in that direction.

Maybe it’s having a newborn. Or a move. Or a particularly busy time at work for you or your spouse. Or the holidays. Or sickness. Or…

Whatever it is that has put you in survival mode make sure it is a temporary thing. If life itself has you in survival mode, than you may need to reevaluate your priorities and lifestyle. I really don’t believe we should be functioning in a constant state of feeling as if we are simply surviving.

[Insert here: I am not talking here about people with chronic health problems. Though I suspect you do have to learn to alter your lifestyle to a certain degree to adjust.]

However, I do realize that there are seasons, circumstances, or situations, that demand that we put things in survival mode for a time.

I’m in one of those seasons right now. The next six months are going to be hold your breath and get through it sort of months.

But I don’t want to be in survival mode.

I want to still feel as relaxed as possible. Be a joyful (not stressed out) mom. Be a nice wife (let’s be real here!). And have a home that is functioning good enough.

So something else is going into survival mode. Because it isn’t going to be me.

When we feel stressed and like we are just surviving I think it is often because we are trying to keep up with everything to our normal standard. But when certain situations in life hit us, we can’t maintain everything else as normal and simply add in the extra difficulty or busyness.

My very crude model is usually something along the lines of if something gets added, something else goes. Obviously this doesn’t always work perfectly, but it is a good exercise to practice.

If you add something significant to your life, intentionally evaluating if there is anything that you can cut out is a good rule of thumb. Because remember, this is just for a time.

What could go into survival mode so that it isn’t YOU!

  • Meals : You may for a time period decide you aren’t going to prepare involved meals but simply serve one pot meals that require very little hands on work. Or, frozen pizza if need be.
  • House cleaning: Stick to the very basics to keep the home good enough. Forget the regular mopping, and just stick to making sure clutter is under control, your family has clothes to put on, and the counters are wiped down.
  • Schooling: if you homeschool, you might need to put school in survival mode. Meaning you only do the core subjects and don’t even contemplate doing any additional activities that you might otherwise consider.
  • Schedule: playdates, parties, field trips, events, volunteering, etc., all might be a normal part of your life. But if things are feeling crazy you may need to call freeze on everything but the basics. Your schedule is in survival mode and you’re only doing the absolute basics. Because if you don’t, you’ll be the one in survival mode.

You may choose only one of these areas, or all of them, or something else entirely to put into survival mode. But you decide what it is going to be.

I’ve learned that when I try to keep everything going and something fails (usually house cleaning or nutritious meals), I feel like a failure because I’m still trying to do it all.

However, when I purposely put one of these other categories in survival mode I am liberated. I am serving extremely simple meals for the next few weeks, not because I can’t get my act together to cook, but because I have decided that this is what is going into survival mode.

I am saying no to all extra activities right now, not because I hate socializing, but because I’ve decided that that is what is going into survival mode so that I don’t.

That’s a kind of survival mode I’m okay with.

My family doesn’t mind. When it comes down to it, they’d much rather something else in the home be in survival mode, than for me to be the one in survival mode. Because, news flash, I’m not always pleasant to be around when I’m just surviving.

What things do you put into survival mode when you are going through a particularly busy time of life?  



  1. Oh, what a blessing this was to me! Thank you!

  2. Wow!! I needed this today!! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!! Feeling much better already and deciding what’s going to go on survival mode :)

  3. With three very young children and this being my first year of homeschooling as well, I feel like survival mode is going to last for the next several years. But I’m okay with that, and so is my husband. We have already talked through these things, and we both feel that we’d rather the house be “clean enough”, meals be “good enough”, etc. so that I can be a joyful wife and mother rather than tired and stressed. Great thoughts!

  4. Cleaning gets very basic: dishes and laundry. Meals get simpler (but this can’t last too long for me because it usually also means more expensive). Activities get eliminated. Realistically speaking, sleep often gets shortchanged but this is never a good long-term solution as it definitely leads to me going to survival mode.

  5. What a great perspective! I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms until I read your post and then it clicked that this is basically what I’ve done for the entire last year b/c of language school. I know there were plenty of times along the way that I was the one who slipped into survival mode, but God graciously helped me put other things like meals and cleaning into survival mode lots of times throughout the year, and it helped SO MUCH! I want to be a joyful, fun, pleasant, wife and mom instead of stressed out, so thanks for this reminder. It gives me a “hook” to hang my ideas on and keep moving in the direction of putting other things in survival mode during the really crazy times (which we’ll have another of this coming summer when we move!) Thanks for this post!

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