Survival Mode… and What It’s Not

I just recently came out of a mini-season of true Survival Mode. My health situation made it so that I had to just make it through the days. Through it all, I made sure to remember these important tips.
  • “Don’t worry about it– you’re in survival mode right now!”
  • “I can’t even think about that… I’m in survival mode!”
  • “That’s going to have to wait… it’s survival mode time right now…”
  • “Oh my goodness, who can deal with all that? Lower your standards and just live in survival mode.”


We’ve all heard it, said it, or lived it. At some point in your life, you either have been, currently are, or will one day find yourself in a season of Survival Mode.


There’s nothing wrong with that. As long we always remember…



Survival Mode should not put you in debt.


Are you in a season where you can’t whip up a wholesome, home-cooked meal? Then this is the time to serve up Wheat Thins, cheese, and applesauce for lunch and call it good. It is not the time to rely on pricey convenience foods or take-out and overspend to the point that it damages you financially.



Survival Mode still means you need to take of yourself.


Letting go of a consistent work-out plan? No problem; there are times a shower doesn’t make it in your day, let alone a thirty minute run. But this is not a time to rely on no sleep, no exercise, and a sporadic junk food diet to survive. Eat wholesome, if simple, food. Rest when you can. Stand up and stretch from time to time.



Survival Mode does not mean giving up.


If you just “give up”, you’ll make your life even more complicated and stressful. A good “survival plan” is just that- a plan. You need a seriously pared down menu plan, cleaning schedule, and overall “to-do” list at this point… but you should still try to organize your true necessary tasks. What little time you do have won’t be spent spinning your wheels if you do a little planning and get realistic about what you hope to accomplish.



Survival Mode should make life easier.


If you’re constantly sobbing about your lack of focus… or your husband is desperate to feel needed or helpful… or your children are fearful of interrupting you because they feel like burdens… well, then, this version of Survival Mode isn’t working. Re-prioritize. Cut out more things that don’t matter– dusting, mowing your lawn, cooking from scratch, ironing the clothes, volunteering at the church, etc . Seriously, cut out ANYTHING before you cut out the people who matter.



Survival Mode should not be how you deal with “being busy.”


There’s a mommy I know from my son’s class… I’ve known her coming up on two years now. She’s declared herself in “survival mode” for that entire time. Her reason? To quote: “I have three kids, what do you want?” The short answer? A better reason than that. I’m not trying to be nasty but, really… if you’re busy, then you need to deal with that. But that’s not a reason to fall into “survival mode.” Because, finally…



Survival Mode should not be a new way of life.


Don’t get too comfortable with this new, wacky way of living. Survival Mode is not supposed to be your new normal. Rather, Survival Mode should serve as a bridge between two far more stable times. You’re not trying to set up camp on the bridge.  You’re just setting up a safe way to navigate the wild rapids so you can make it back to solid ground without falling in and drowning.


See you on the other side!


originally published 5/2011
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11 comments to Survival Mode… and What It’s Not

  • THIS is an awesome post! Just found your blog through Twitter!

    Have a blessed week!

  • I like this article so much! I can remember using this phrase! I love the last tip – it should not be a new way of life. You are so right, it would be really easy to just decide that your life is now full of chaos and that you have no contol over it. Good reminders.

  • I just used this term today, referring to a dear friend. She is living on very little sleep, working full time, going to school full time and a single mom to three lovely children. I am honored to be a safety net for her. Her situation is short term and she is getting through it by seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My prayers are with everyone who is in survival mode.

  • [...] wrote about “survival mode” and what it is and what it’s not. I really appreciated her post because it relieved me of some guilt — and gave me some things [...]

  • That is a great post! I have felt like sometimes in this mode we start to just accept it, and not want to move beyond it.

  • marsha

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m currently in a sort of survival mode, I’m 7 months pregnant with 2 kids under 3 and my husband works out of town. I’m constantly tired and sore, but I’m still trying to have my kids enjoy summer. I definitely have to learn to prioritize and learn to let things go.

    • Oh, I’ll be praying for you, Marsha! That’s hard. I never had your exact scenario, but I did have a 2yo and a 3yo and was pregnant with #3 when my husband lost his job suddenly and had to go on interviews all over the country to try to find a new one. Home alone, 8 months pregnant, in the heat with two littles was TOUGH. But it really is just a season… focus only on the very most important things right now and be sure to give yourself some grace! )

  • Jenni

    Just found your blog thru Pinterest. My family are in “survival mode” now. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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