freeing containment

Yesterday I had my monthly therapy appointment.

Yup, I’m down to monthly.  This is a BIG DEAL for me since for a while I was going weekly. Truthfully there were times when I felt I could go every day.

My therapist has said I could just be “done” until I feel I need it again, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that.  The monthly visits make me feel like there is an accountability for me. It helps me know there is a check-in to make sure I am maintaining and managing my anxiety, depression, and OCD.

In fact, yesterday the first thing Dr. M asked me was “So how has going back to school gone for you?”

I have been seeing Dr. M for about two years now. She is awesome at her job and knows when my yearly meltdowns typically occur.  This is the first time in years that I haven’t had weekly appointments during this time of year to help me manage the big shift in schedule.

And it was fine.

I told Dr. M that it was going great.  And I wasn’t lying or sugar-coating anything.

Yes, I have had a couple slips, but Cortney and I recognized them quickly and we worked to “contain” (that is what Dr. M calls it) my anxiety.

In fact, this fall is busier than ever for me, but I am doing well with it all.  Dr. M says that this is because I have set up a containment strategy for myself.

I know that working three jobs (teaching high school, teaching college, and freelancing) plus taking two classes, PLUS wanting to be a quality parent and wife AND help keep my house from being condemned would have been way too much for me in the past.

But this year, because I really love all of the things I have taken on and I want to be successful, I devised a schedule for myself.  One that I have shared with Cortney and that is printed and on my desk and school and taped into my blog/freelance planner at home.  It looks like this:


To some people this might look like I am putting myself in a box, and I guess I sort of am. I mean, the schedule is shaped like a box.

But for me it’s incredibly freeing.

Because I have so many things I have to work on at any given moment, I can get overwhelmed and shut down and forget how to prioritize. I also have the tendency to prioritize certain things right out of my life like family time or sleep.  This is problematic for my mental health since lack of down time (and sleep) are major triggers for my anxiety and depression.

If I don’t have set times when things get done, I also tend to procrastinate which further exacerbates my anxiety.

I realized a couple weeks ago that in order to feel free, I needed to box myself in.

So I created the above schedule.  Not only does it keep me focused, but it tells me what to do in each “work time” slot. For instance in the “school planning” areas I ONLY do school planning.  No blogging or freelancing.  That is what the evenings are for.

It also helps me to realize that if I am sent a possible freelance assignment, but because of the date assigned and the date due, I won’t be able to write on a Sunday? I won’t take that assignment.

This schedule makes us go device-free for time every. single. day.  It makes sure I am being present for my husband and kids each day.

Because of all the open family time on the weekends, we are flexible for putting fun things on the calendar or for tackling house tasks.

I also have the opportunity to look forward and say, “I didn’t get all the essays graded I needed to, but I have time tomorrow to do it again.”

I realize at first glance it’s easy to say, “but you have ever single minute of your life SCHEDULED!” But if you look closely, you will see that I have scheduled the unscheduled as well.

The other benefits to this is that it puts our whole family into a sort of predictable routine which has been wonderful for Eddie and Charlie and has made communication between Cortney and myself much better.  We share bedtime duty with Eddie so it’s not a same-day decision.  It’s expected that I will be gone during nap on Sundays to go work at Starbucks on my writing, so no one is being resentful of that time.

Our weekends have been much more fulfilling and happy since we started this schedule, as have our evenings.

I don’t think this sort of box-style scheduling is for everyone, but it is definitely what is working for me and my famly right now.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I think it’s absolutely awesome that you schedule family time. That kind of time easily falls to the wayside. To pen it in means you’re committed and it’s right there, in your face. So yes, I think it’s AWESOME. good for you.

  2. I’m so glad you’re feeling good about everything! You are a busy woman, and organizing your time is key to get it all done and not short circuit. Possibly related…I’m working on it. 🙂

  3. I wonder if this is something that might work for me. Right now my life is simple, but soon our schedules, babysitters, and freetime will be a big mess all over the place. I’m glad you found a system that works for you.

  4. Scheduling free time and family time and everything else? Brilliant. With such busy lives and minds, it’s a necessity. I’m proud of you, Katie and happy for you. You’re doing it, mama!! xoxo

  5. You are amazing! Love ya!

  6. I like the idea of “containing” anxiety, and think that accountability is a good thing. And of course I love your schedule. For me having a schedule means that I don’t have to worry about where all the pieces are and when I should pay attention to them. Seeing it on a schedule (or post-it) frees me from having to remember everything and keeps me from adding other things to the schedule. Tomorrow is another day.

    I am so glad this is working for you!

  7. I am with you on scheduling. Making a House Cleaning schedule was the single-most greatest thing I have done for my anxiety. I used to have a ton of issues with a messy house, and would try to do it all at once and fail miserably. Now, I know that on Tuesday, the baby’s bathroom gets cleaned so if I notice on Monday it’s getting messy, I can calm the eff down and know it’ll get cleaned tomorrow. Additionally, deciding not to take grading home as another amazing decision. When I am at home, that is Evelyn’s time and I need to cherish that. It took some restructuring at school, and sometimes, it means it takes 8 days for students to get essays back instead of 4, but it’s all worth it to maintain my sanity. Good for you!

  8. I do this type of scheduling, too, and it helps me so much to know what to say no to and keeps my stress level down. Colorful boxes for the win!

  9. I think that it is awesome that you have found a system and a structure that works for you and your whole family. So awesome! I could benefit from some more structure and schedule of my personal things (blogging and household stuff, especially) because now I just try to grab time here and there and it is not so efficient.

  10. I absolutely love this!! I totally get the schedule and am envisioning something very similar for myself as we speak!! I deal so often with feeling overwhelmed and out of control… This is a great idea! I am so proud of you!!

  11. This is a blessing and a big bitch slap of hell.
    I need to organize like this in order to function. (I know that my function is not your function but roll with me here). When I make lists, I need to stick with it. There can be no deviation because if there is, holy shit. I will just open my mouth while someone dumps a bottle of anti-psych down my throat.
    For five years, I’ve been a slave to it…and in some aspects, I need to be.
    I’m so happy that you’re decreasing your visits but continue to follow up. That is where you’ll catch the slipping (hopefully never) when YOU don’t see it.
    If that works for you, then go on with your bad self.
    I love you and your strength.

  12. I love this, and I don’t at all think it’s over-scheduled. Great way to keep your eye on the big picture and know that you have time to do what you need to do. (Also, I’m totally visual so to me this just rocks.)

  13. You know what? When you’ve found that that works for you, it doesn’t matter if it’s “boxing you in” or not. You obviously don’t feel boxed in, and scheduling even the unscheduled time works. So, kudos. 🙂


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