Monday, October 23, 2017

So much to do, how do deal with it all!

Fall. What a lovely time of year. The weather starts getting cooler. The smell in the air is crisp. Leaves are turning. What a beautiful sight! And, uh...oh no... that means Winter is coming! For many of us Fall is a VERY busy time of year. This can be an overwhelming task when looking at all that needs to be done. Days are shorter, and To Do Lists get longer. The pressure of making the best of your time is at a all time high! Weather changes can really effect how and when you can get outside work done. Inside work gets put off and life can get out of control! Step back, take a deep breath, and let's talk about how to get through it all!

If you remember, I am a field farmer in Kansas. So before anything else...this time of year, we are all about Harvest! This is our income, so making sure we get things done to the best of our ability is VERY important. It is quite stressful when things don't go as we hope. It is inevitable that rains will pop up when you're equipment is working, and the sun comes out when the equipment is down! You have to try and laugh through it all. These are things you learn to deal with and try to plan for. Days are long, and you are pushed to levels of exhaustion that you didn't even know you had! And although I am a farmer, and you will see me in the field right beside my dear husband, I also am a small homesteader. This means there are still daily chores to be tended to, the garden and orchard are producing abundances of delicious food that needs put up for winter, and there is a whole list of cleaning and preparation that needs to be made so the animals can survive the winter months. Of course let's not forget that I'm also a mom and school events and projects need my attention too. Out of school sports and 4-H activities popping up every few days, and of course everyone hopes for a nice meal at the end of these crazy busy and extremely exhausting days.

Do I become overwhelmed, um YES! Quite often actually! Do I get it all done, oh.. I don't! And this is something I have been forced to deal with. Nobody likes to fail. But ya know what, it's ok! Life is about learning, and you never ever stop! The older I become, the more I realize that I am not that young superwoman that I was even 5 years ago. My body and my health is changing, and so I am gradually learning to change with it. With this, I am learning acceptance. I am asking for more help. I am saying "No" to things I just cannot devote time or energy to. And toughest of all, I am accepting that things may not get done in a manner that I am accustomed to. I am waiting longer, giving me patience. I say thank you even though my "help" may have just caused more work. And I accept that some things just may not ever get done!  So how can this apply to you?  Slow down, take a look at what you have to get done, and learn to delegate tasks.  Be realistic with your time.  Are you pushing too hard?  Maybe it would be better to ask for help from a friend, or hire a neighboring teen to help you with the big projects!  Make lists, then break them up into small tasks or goals!

I am also allowing myself more time to do things. When I first learned to can, it was so exciting and so fun! I had friends that loved to can too! We would get together all day and help each other put up the beautiful bounty that was before us. Days were long, and we were exhausted, but could easily wake up the next morning refreshed and ready (after coffee of course)! Just a few short years later, it's not quite as easy!

Finding time to be with friends is so important! Big projects can be done with the help of others! However, as busy as we are becoming, it becomes more difficult to even find time to steal an entire day!  And you know what, that's ok...we don't need an entire day to cram all of our fun in, now we just make small dates more often!  And you should too!  Don't forget your friends, they need you as much as you need them!

 This year I had to accept that if I wanted to take on canning projects, I had to do it in phases. Sadly, I picked my grapes before they were ready. (Another Learning curve.)  When a family from a neighboring town offered their extra abundance, I was thrilled for the opportunity! I called my mom, and we went together and picked one morning before field harvest was in full swing! It was a busy week, so that is all that was accomplished that day in the canning department. About 2 days later it rained and I cleaned and sorted all those beautiful bunches of delicious grapes. This took much longer than anticipated! Other life obligations came up, so another 2 days passed before I could process them. For now they are grape juice concentrate. We will enjoy having that to drink this winter. And when time allows, I can also may jelly! Normally I would've gotten it all done in 2 days, running on little to no sleep, leaving myself in a zombie state. This would be no good! 

When the apples were ready, I did the same concept. Applesauce was quick and easy, and I made a fast pressure cooker juice from the scraps. I won't have pie filling or stewed apple slices, and that is ok! I will make jelly with the juice when the snow falls! And then it was the same with the pears, pumpkins,tomatoes, and on and on... I accepted that I couldn't make a large variety, but getting SOMETHING done made me feel a bit more accomplished, and we will be happy with what we have.

What time pressed project might you have going on?  Can you maybe take a moment and think of a different way of doing it?  How about doing part of it now, and part of it later?  Your time is worth more than you realize, prioritize what must be done first and then only take on those projects before tackling more!
When it comes to outside work in the garden or barn, take things in small steps. Are you a seed saver? Here is an excellent example of a "do some now, do some later" task! Grab all your pods, lay them to dry and leave them! Don't worry about them until you have time!  While you're off doing other tasks, the pods will crack open and the seeds will appear! Most seeds will need to sit and dry for a long time!  A quick tip is to make sure you put paper towels down first, and that will help to catch the seeds, and cleanup will be a breeze!

How about raking the yard....instead of doing all of it, do the front today, and the back another day. It's ok to step out of your norm, and give yourself a break! It doesn't mean the project can't or won't get done.....just done differently!

We have 2 stalls in the goat pen. One was cleaned, and the other didn't get cleaned out for nearly a month. I was able to do the first one, but had to ask for help on the second. Waiting patiently was a trying experience, however the project did get done! The same will be for our poultry. One weekend we will tackle the ducks, and a few weekends later we will clean out the chicken house. We will look around and observe what will need to be done before winter, taking mental notes, but actually doing it will come later.

If you are working with children, this actually makes things much less stressful on both you and the child! I don't care what age they are, children don't want to muck barns or scrub stalls any more than we do, and I may even venture to say they like it less! I just don't have the physical energy to deal with the emotional drama that can happen, lol! So this tip is just as much about saving sanity as it is saving time!

And here it comes....the saying "NO" part. This is a work in progress, and likely will always be! Family, Friends, and Community is so important to me! I try and help out whenever and wherever I can. This means driving people out of town to appointments, making and taking meals, and so on. I was working at a mom and pop store in town, and loving every minute! Life started to get way to crazy, so that was something I just had to let go. Somehow that time became consumed with other activities, and then had to give up attending Farmers Market before the season ended. I felt like I was disappointing so many people, but for my own personal reasons, I had to slow down! My children are involved in activities, and that means all sorts of fund raisers, meetings, and more. I've always been the one that would not only take on my part, but somehow offer to help others get theirs done too! This had to change. It's a shock to yourself to say no and give up commitments, but it's a shock to other too! Don't worry, life goes on and everyone adjusts.  Take a deep breath and realize that you are only one person, and it's perfectly normal to say "NO", or "not this time".  Don't let guilt creep up on you, you have to know your limits and be your own advocate!

Now remember, its ok to accept failure! Sometimes we allow ourself to take on more than we are capable of! Its perfectly normal to do so, and perfectly ok to admit it and give up some things! When and if life slows down and you feel that you are caught up, take a moment to breathe. Relax, let yourself heal! And after that, only after that, you can re-evaluate and look again at how you can do things. Maybe you will decide that you like taking small steps instead of big ones. Maybe you will choose to limit the time you give to any activity. And maybe you will feel that you your ready to try that project again! If you take things slow and then look back, you realize that yes, you did accomplish something! Don't let yourself get overwhelmed, it all works out eventually!  And most of all, don't forget to laugh!  Laugh at others, but mostly laugh at yourself!  When you're running around crazy, or you fall, or your supper burns, or you sleep in....just laugh!  It's a good thing to do!

I hope that me sharing some of my personal experiences will help you with your fall chores and obligations! Maybe you are working long hours? Maybe you have been struck with illness, or disability. Maybe life has become to busy and overwhelming? My suggestion to you is to not give up. Don't look at all the things that need to be done as a huge burden. Find new and creative ways that you can do things differently. Look at your tasks and see if you can change or even eliminate some. Leave a comment here, and come find me on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and share your stories!

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