lazy gal’s guide : burnout

Hello lovely friends! We’re back today with another installment in our Lazy Gal’s series.  Today’s topic? Oh so appropriate to the month of February: Burnout.I actually had a big fat juicy post I wanted to discuss with you today, but I keep colliding with this topic. I’ve been a little burned out. Spiraling out of control, with wings ablaze, hoping to pull back up at the last minute, frustrated.

And to top it all off, I’m a total purging hypocrite right now. A big fat purgalicious faker.

I had a lego-infused meltdown last week. Do any of you have something in your home that will absolutely make you escalate into scary mommy bonkers mode? It can be lots of things for me. Piles of laundry. Clogged toilets. Friends eating my Cadbury Egg stash. Legos. Oh the legos. For some reason, the hoarded boxes of them in my boys’ room have me wanting to do the crab walk in fast motion up the wall like that über creepy scene from the Exorcist while melting them with a blow torch. A little over the top? Maybe. It’s probably because they’re always everywhere. On the floor. In our bed. In my heel. And when I think we’ve picked them all up, I’m sucking them into the vacuum cleaner with that dreaded clinking noise. Like any half-sane mom with a sense of self preservation, I pretend it didn’t happen because a. who’s going to go poking through all the gross dog hair and Malone boogers for that piece of plastic (I don’t care if it was a Ninjago dude) and b. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. But back to the meltdown.

I’d been sick for two weeks, and I just wanted to get our house under control. There’s something about a clean home that is beyond therapy for me. When I was huge prego with Malone, Jamin hired a housekeeper for a few weeks, and there’s never been anything nicer. A clean home takes me to my happy place. And there’s something about the lego situation that makes me feel completely hopeless. I was all kinds of scary mommy mode. Before I knew it, I’d gone from oh-my-word-it’s-a-lego-avalanche-closet (already purged, mind you-I believe it’s time for a second round) to that-downhill-spiral-of-hyperventilation-over-everything-else-I-had-left-to-accomplish-in-the-great-purge-of-2013. I went from ‘Let’s clean the house, falala’, to ‘Nooooooo…. I suck at life’ (that last part would be in super slow motion so I have a scary bass voice and I fall dramatically to the ground repeatedly on youtube). First world problems. What did I do? I called Jamin. And whined for five minutes while he sat helplessly on the other end of the phone. Every time he volunteered something I one-third snarled, hiccuped and hyperventilated an interruption. Life is haaaaaarrrrddd. Apparently I needed a nap. And some perspective.



What is our status, you may ask?

I’m ashamed to admit it’s the exact same as the last time when I showed you this chart. (Below.) We were on fire. We were the champions with our bags of awesomeness. We’d purged at least thirty huge lawn bags. Cue Eye of the Tiger in a music video of Jamin and I conquering life together a-la black and white with a minivan in the background. I found a place for the colored pencils, ribbon collection and toe nail clippers, y’all. I was excited. And then life happened. Jamin fell from the attic and injured his heel. I was planning a birthday party. And then we were sick for two WHOLE weeks. That’s at least a month. One month of zero progress.

Basic RGB

We had to step back, and breathe.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop while you breathe. That’s life.

Stepping back is good. It’s been a good thing. We were weary. We needed rest. We took it. Rest is essential and under rated.

But in the process of stepping back, I stayed there too long. I seriously lost my focus.

We’ve finished our initial pass, and now I’m just hovering. It’s like everything migrated to the garage and we were waiting to tackle it. And it just sat there. I swear it multiplies every night. I just want to shut the door and pretend it isn’t there. Or burn it. Whichever comes first.

Breaks are good. As long as you don’t lose that motivation.


I lost my fire. I lost my focus. And in that process, I lost the strangest thing : my sense of gratitude.

It’s a funny thing, the direct relationship between improving something about your life, and your focus.



I was distracted. And in the process, I had ungrateful, restless, anxious thoughts. It was like my frustration merged with the ridiculosity of my grandiose expectations and they became this incredible hulk of angry thoughts. I was all, Ashley SMASH! And I wanted to freak out. As a whole, I was very discontent, and even caught myself playing the (gasp!) comparison game.



Why do we fall back? Experience setbacks? Do the things we know not to do, time and time again? Is there anything more frustrating than trying to break old habits and learn a new behavior?

It’s the strangest thing, flipping that switch over to a simple lifestyle. It doesn’t really give you time to focus on the wrong things. It doesn’t give you the opportunity to be ungrateful. The experience is really so cleansing, so convicting, it reminds you of all the things you’ve truly taken for granted.

Doesn’t a life of excess breed the opposite? A complete disregard for how good we really have it? A petri dish for the world and what it breeds: discontentment.

I don’t know about you guys, but wallowing in discontent is a deep mud puddle to slip and slide your way back out of. The longer you allow your thoughts to spiral, the longer you stay there with the pigs who enjoy being there. (I’m not calling anyone a pig. No angry mob torches. I totally ran with the extended metaphor.)


So what’s the plan, Stan?

What do you do when you’re feeling un-motivated?

For starters, I’m learning to be nice to myself. It’s good to be well again. I was a little hard on myself while I was down and out. And I’m starting small… again. We hit the garage a little today. I plan to go with a bag, room by room again, gradually. In fact, I look forward to it. Baby steps. And more importantly, gratefulness.

This is a learned process, not something to master overnight. We will stumble. We will fall. We will get back up and try, try again.

We will get there. Just not over night.

Who’s with me? (Cue that scene where the boy king just gave the pep talk after a the lion died in the movie and there are crickets while we wait with baited breath for the slightly disturbing goat and horse people to step forward.)


And for gratefulness.

What works for you? Have an inspired day!

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Responses to lazy gal’s guide : burnout

  1. lauren says:

    I am SO right there with you. I was all gung ho when I started cleaning out our house in December. It got looking really good, but then I got to the details of desks and drawers and things like that and I got scared. :) I need to get back on the bandwagon, though. It feels so much better go get it done than sitting here wishing I were doing it. I’ve had a major case of “I stink at life” lately and this post has given me the kick in the pants I needed to get over it.


  2. Lisa says:

    I could well have written this. It came at the perfect time too, I had a mini-breakdown this morning about my burnout after my family were all ill for a fortnight, but this has shown me that as long as I keep going and take baby steps it will get done. Small victories. Thank you for posting <3 Lisa

  3. Anna says:

    what a great way to look at it all. I love this. A lifestyle of simplicity does have a lot to say about being grateful!

  4. layla k says:

    I am SO glad I am not the only one who has a conniption over legos! Hilarious analogy by the way. I know that one day we will miss the legos, but in the meantime it is okay to have our uninspired moments also. Hurray for burnouts. I am glad to know I am normal.

  5. Kyla F says:

    I love this Ashley! I injured my back a couple of months ago and it took me until last week to stop and let myself have some time to catch up on rest and breathe, and I feel great now! I purged my closet this weekend during the major New England blizzard and now I’m taking it one day at a time :)

  6. melissa gray says:

    I was in the exact same place. We were making progress, slowly mind you, on little areas of our house (some big purchases need to be made for storage solutions and we just aren’t there yet). Then bam…sick baby, then sick kid, then sick me, then really sick husband. It was a full month of sickness in our house! And during that entire time, NOTHING got done. Trying to get to work on time in the morning and just feed my children basic food and making sure they had clean underwear to wear was task enough! However, now that we are all better and I had my mom come for some reinforcement last week, I’m feeling much better about myself for just asking for a little bit of help. And help showed up two days later. Just beating the sickness is motivation enough for me to get my butt in gear again:)

  7. Emily says:

    Amen, sister! My house is a pit of despair. And I have company coming this weekend. One step at a time. Look at how far you’ve come, not how far you have yet to go. :)

  8. antiquechase says:

    just wanted to tell you that I found you last week and you are my new favorite blog. not.even.kidding.

  9. Accountability is a huge motivator for me. Keep it up, we (your readers and friends) will keep you from completely falling off the wagon. :)

  10. Kendra says:

    I love your authenticity! Sometimes I think that once I’ve finally gotten on a roll and become successful in some area of my life that it’ll last forever. And when it doesn’t, it’s my fault and I’m lame. But I love your quote about motivation!

    And, seriously. My boys’ room. The rotten apple cores! The McDonald’s Happy Meal toys! The Legos! I am never more angry/freaking out than when I’m helping them clean their room. So I get the imagery. :)

  11. Juliette Mariano-Carlson says:

    I’ve been in a cleaning, organizing, and purging mode since January. The blogs I have recently stumbled upon (including yours) have truly motivated me. They woke me up to realize that it was about time that I started loving the home that me and my family are living in and to make it the haven that my family deserved. In regards to the LEGOS you mentioned…. My little one, who just turned 5, loves and plays with all the LEGOS that I saved from the lego play days of his big brothers, who are now 22 and 20. We have a ton of legos and I finally decided that they needed to be organized properly in one area of the toy room. I chose an area that had a wall and started designing. Hubby and I bought 2 storage containers with lots of little drawer compartments from Lowes that were made to hold screws, nuts, etc., and hung them on the wall side by side and at the right level for our little one so that all the little, tiny legos could have a home. We put 2 shelves above the little drawers containers so that our little one can display his lovely creations. We need to buy another shelf. And below the little drawers are 2 big clear plastic drawer containers placed side by side that hold the zillion of legos. I also placed his play table near the lego area so he can easily put his lego pieces on the table while building. Every day the legos are easily cleaned up. The chaos has been contained and the Legos finally have a home.

  12. Stacey says:

    I am glad I am not the only one who lost focus! I was doing so well!
    I actually started with the Legos! This might sound a little “CRAY CRAY” ( as my kids say) but I took the entire day with my son, sorted all Legos by color, and put them in one of those roller wheel storage carts! It has been working too! All the instructions went into a box too!

  13. Ashley Baltes says:

    I love your blog! It’s kind of scary how in-tune your writing has been with my thinking these last few months! I started to donate items and get rid of things about 8 months ago and what really has helped me to stay motivated is going slowly. If I try to take on too much at once (for example, pull apart an entire room) I get overwhelmed and stop and feel worse, because now I have a scary pulled apart room!
    This streamlining and organizing business is really tough!!! Especially, when you get set backs (your legos) and for me this morning was seeing my cats looooong black hair all over our living room couches, carpet, throw blankets… everywhere!!
    So after whining to my husband about how it feels like all of my organizing and cleaning has been getting me nowhere, I read your blog post, realized I’m not alone, and I feel motivated again! :)

    Thanks Ashley and I look forward to your next posts!!!! :)

  14. Bekki says:

    Your Lego issues made me laugh. I am that Mom who goes through the canister to look for all the tiny pieces I vacuumed up. They might not mind, but I can’t stand the thought of a lost piece to a set. :) My boys have their Lego’s all sorted by color and in IKEA trofast systems, but then Lego had to go and make Friends. My girls love love them but can’t manage to clean up after themselves at all! They are the messiest creatures I have ever known and I have a hard time walking in their room without taking a deep breath and putting blinders over my eyes. I digress, when I am in a funk I clean, because in my world that usually leads to a bunch of other things and the poof the motivation is back and I am focused on the good again( and a little BonJovi played really loud doesn’t hurt). :)

  15. There is a short book (and corresponding 5 week Bible study by Ann Voskamp) called 1,000 gifts. Practically, it’s an exercise in gratitude. You write down 1,000 things you are thankful over the course of a few weeks and it really does do wonders to change your attitude and perspective on God’s grace and all the gifts He’s given us (Cadbury eggs, legos, life, love, forgiveness, and so on) :). Before you know it you no longer have 1st world “problems” but a heart of thankfulness, that’s the goal be thankful in all things.

  16. Chris says:

    I’m that 36 weeks pregnant gal who just posted on the “Rest” post about getting my office together. During all that there was this one box. This one box when my mom said ok lets tackle this one I looked her right in the eye and said, “Mom, that box really stresses me out, lets just put it in the garage.” (If I put one more thing in the garage my husband may murder me in my sleep.) The box stressed me out because it had been with me for so long, since college really (5 years ago). It had moved with me over 8 times, sat in storage in three different cities. I knew it contained everything from college notes to wedding cards to a note documenting a fight my ex and I had. There was a lot in there.

    Mom responded with that all knowing mom nature, “Ok then, we will just do five things from this box.” So over the course of several hours, every 30 minutes or so, I spent just a few minutes going through 5 things from the box. After trashing that note from my ex and finding the last card and letter my grandmother sent me before she died and shedding a few tears over her kindness and missing her, the box was empty. And because I have the kind of mom I have we danced around the room for a minute in celebration.

    I think when you get burnt out you just have to narrow your focus and go through five things. And then another five things. And then eventually the box is empty. And then your garage is empty. And then you can raise your mighty lady arms, flex and say, “I am woman, hear me roar”.

    So do not be discouraged, you’ve already accomplished SO much. You’re allowed to get sick and have life happen. Just, now, it’s time to start up again. So, I say again, purge on my friend!

    • Holly says:

      “Mighty lady arms” I love that! I am going to keep that image in my mind as I tackle the bathrooms tonight. Thanks!

  17. Bobbi says:

    Hi Ashly, I am just catching up on some emails and got to this post….boy did I need to read it today, I was feeling so overwhelmed and so unsuccessful at keeping a clean and organized home because…..I AM TIRED!!! I needed to look at my time management and make smaller goals each day and just accomplish them instead of looking at everything and giving up because…its all so much! Thanks for your honesty you are truely a real life mommy and wife who gets it!!

  18. Being sick can throw your entire life out of whack. Then it takes time to feel really better and get your energy back. Doing a little something is better than doing nothing, as you know. I like to say, “So what?” when a plan doesn’t come through the way you expect. So what if it takes longer than you anticipated to complete your great purge? So what if the garage is a mess a little longer? It will all get done, in time.

    I don’t know about you, but “What We Lack” on the pie chart sounds negative and makes me feel less than motivated. How about “What We’re Working On” instead?

  19. Dude. It is all I can do right now to get people clothed, fed, and where they are supposed to be. Random sicknesses, hubby out of town, and a slew of tax crap has had me all tangled up. When my computer decided to have multiple personalities yesterday I plopped down on the couch and watched Teen Mom 2. And felt much better. Might have been by comparison. Or the mindless whatnot but you have to roll with the ups and downs. And chill in order to get back up and start again…

    I like this simplicity stuff. I’ve been shedding stuff since Christmas and I’m liking it.

  20. Southern Gal says:

    Great motivational post!

  21. Corrie says:

    I’ve been known to lose it over Legos, too. Here is our lego solution my brilliant husband came up with for our last house:
    It would have been much cuter with a frame around the pegboard but we never got around to that. And now we have downsized to a much smaller house with only two bedrooms and no room for the awesome Lego board or the train table turned Lego station. Back to bins they have to dump out for now, but until we find another permanent home, my father-in-law built us a version of these dandy little trays:
    On the journey with you to make our space work for us. Kudos to you for striving to be content where you are and making it work for your family. I’m encouraged and inspired reading your blog. Thanks for keepin’ it real!

  22. Debbie says:

    Legos. My son is 26 and his “sweet precious Legos” have been stored and strewn all over the attic for years. Just THIS year did I finally have enough. The big attic purge. Yes, all those little boogers went to Goodwill. Sigh.

    I loved this post!

  23. I don’t see what you did as stopping. You slowed down, way down for a few weeks. You were sick for goodness sakes. And being sick as a mom with three kids is just not like any other obstacle. I understand your tendency to feel like a complete failure after a slow down like this. I do it, too. But the thing that will keep you from failing is just jumping back in. A little at a time. One thing that I love about blogging, is that it really reinforces the fact that I’ve gotten things done. I have proof–in word and picture that I haven’t failed. And usually that is enough inspiration to get up and start moving again. Besides that, it looks like you are half-way through. But the garage and attic?? Those are tough areas to get into. I have a self-multiplying garage myself.
    Hope you feel better soon. You are an inspiration.
    I love the pie chart.

  24. Lorna Allen says:

    You poor baby! I feel your lego pain……
    Since you mentioned that you are not fond of the SEWING MACHINE I’m not sure how you might tackle this… would only require a straight stitch around the perimeter and I do believe you may be able to accomplish it without removing any hair follicles from your head. Take a big round piece of fabric (the dropcloth you just bought would work wonderfully) say 36″ in diameter, run a casing around it, slide a string through to use as drawstring, in essence creating a big BAG! Ask your darling children to play with their legos ONLY on top of the fabric! When they are done, simply pull the drawstring to and hang it up or throw it in the closet. Problem solved! I wish I had a pic but I don’t have one made up at the moment….hope this helps! If not, just tell yourself over and over, like a mantra, “children are a blessing, children are a blessing”!
    Thanks for all the inspiration and humor you bring to my day!

  25. thefolia says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your body needed to rest and you shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed about it. I know I was down for the count as well and admit I thought about what I could have done. Bottom line its in the past–focus on the present even if your present time is feeling sick and needing to rest. Don’t get bend out of shape about the “missed ” time. March on soldier and look at all the amazing things your created! Enjoy your nest as is!

  26. Jen says:

    Oh my. You always hit so close to home with posts like these- I really appreciate you putting yourself out there. Thanks so much!!

  27. Bee says:

    AMEN! Thanks for all your authentic posts. Our whole house is on high emotion lately and one tiny lego is all it would take to send us all over the edge. We run all day and are often up part of the nights lately with sick kids or nightmares, and it feels like there is so little progress on the to do list. We have to remind ourselves that it is the everyday tasks and the mundane schedules that are the foundation of home and love. Making sure there is progress and growth is very important, but we can’t discount the importance of the everyday tasks and daily rituals.

  28. Alison says:

    Ashley, you have somehow gotten into my brain and put my thoughts ‘on paper’ with your post. I think I’ve commented before, with the whole Lazy Gal guide, really. Our house hasn’t been sick, but stupidly busy, therefore it currently resembles the aftermath of an earthquake – so I can only imagine anyway. Of course, I want to clean it up perfectly today. However, I do have some degree of realistic thinking, so today’s goal is cleaning out the fridge and cleaning up my bedroom. At least I can then retreat to one tidy spot at the end of the day!

    One. Step. At. A. Time.

    And breathe. Some days, it’s all you can do.

  29. Mel O says:

    I mosyed on over here from ‘House of Turquoise’ and love what I have seen/read so far!! You sure have a way with words and express yourself in a most entertaining way!! Lego’s are evil!! Haaahha There has been some great ideas and advice in your comments so good luck with it!! As they say ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’!! and ‘one brick at a time’!! I find tackling just a couple of projects in a day, chipping away bit by bit, is motivating!!

  30. Karad says:

    Being now onto year three of this journey I have found that burning out is the direct result of two things:

    1. Procrastination becuase the fear of those harder descisions to attack ( we always leave the harder areas, those of greater attachment for last).

    2. Emotional exhaustion: be it from life circumstances or becuase of all the emotions going through and decluttering unearthed in us. Be it guilt or sadness, even though there is a great sense of relief, we are also plagued by this idea of failure, of having to do it again like its a failure to accumulate more again.

    Then you realize we are consumers, we are made to consume and consuming is okay. The balance is the place we get lost. I have learned to let it go for awhile it doesn’t need to be consuming to clear out. You get a routine and somehow it works and you become okay with the fact that life is a constant flow of in and out and how to manage that so it doesn’t have a negative effect is a wonderful mountain to conquer. Resizing that it is affecting you is a huge first step. Mark your calender to revisit in 3 months. Let yourself rest when you need to and move as your led. Hope that makes sense!