What ONE Thing Can You Get Rid Of?

Figuring out Your Main Source of Stress at Home: And how banishing just one thing can help!We all have different sources of stress in our lives. But today I want to ask you to think: what is your main source of stress?

Or, to put in another way:

what’s the one thing you would get rid of in your life, if you could?

Hockey games that you hate shivering at, but feel like you have to because you son loves it? All the volunteering you do at church? Laundry? Baby-sitting someone else’s kids? A part-time job? In-laws? Grocery shopping? What?

What is your biggest source of stress? What is the one task which, when you have to do it, you groan inside and you have to steel yourself against all the negative feelings that you have?

If you had only one month to live, chances are it would be the first thing that you get rid of, because it’s not worth it. There’s too much negative energy there, and not enough positive, God-given joy.

Today I want to help you dump that one thing without having to resort to a cancer diagnosis to do so. Don’t be scared; it’s easier than you think, and it’s not going to hurt that much.

1. Identify Your One Thing–Your Main Source of Stress at Home

Think hard about what you do that gives you the most stress. Sometimes we’re afraid to admit it to ourselves because it’s such a central thing in our lives. But be honest: what is the one thing that drives you the most crazy?

2. What Purpose Does that One Thing Play in Your Life?

What is the purpose of that one thing in the lives of you and your family? For instance, let’s say we’re talking about hockey for your 9-year-old son. You’re sick of getting up at 6 in the morning every Saturday and hauling small children to a cold rink so they can watch their brother. The expense is killing you. You don’t like the other parents. But what is the purpose of hockey? It’s to give your son competition, fun, exercise, and a social life.

Take a look at those four things for a moment: competition, fun, exercise, and a social life. Can he meet those needs somewhere else? Does it have to be through hockey? Maybe he can join a different league that doesn’t play as often. Maybe you can have him go out once in a while when friends rent the ice. Maybe he can join soccer in the summer to get competition, and in the winter you all can go skating together as a family, or take up cross country skiing as exercise. Or maybe you can go for hikes and go tobagonning once the snow comes.

Or what if your one thing is your part-time job. What purpose does that serve? Giving money for the family, right? Can you meet that purpose in another way? Maybe you can save more money by smarter grocery shopping. Maybe you can get a different job, or find a way to make a small amount of money online. Maybe you can help your husband make more money.

Once we figure out the purpose, it’s easier to see if the activity itself is necessary, and if there are alternatives to whatever is driving you crazy.

3. Can Others Do It?

What if the thing that is driving you nuts is grocery shopping, or laundry, or keeping the living room clean? Can others do that? Can you divide up the chores and assign these to someone else? Can you hire someone to do some basic cleaning? Can you change the way your family works so that the kids do their own laundry, or fold while they watch TV? Does it have to fall entirely on your plate?

4. Can You Develop a Different Attitude?

Dayspring Blessed and Grateful

Let’s say you’ve tried all that and it doesn’t really look like things can change. You can’t get rid of it; it’s an essential part of your family, even though it drains you.

So the next question is this: can you change the way you think about it? I’ll grant you that it’s draining, but can you tackle it in a new way?

Let’s say, for instance, that the thing you can’t get rid of is visiting your grandmother in a nursing home every Saturday. It saps up your time, it’s horrendously boring, you get little gratitude, and you feel guilty the whole time you’re there because you don’t want to be there and you feel like you’re letting your children down. But there’s no one else to go, and you feel like you need to help her with basic groceries and other things once a week.

Can you instead embrace it as time to yourself to pray? Can you give yourself twenty minutes, while you’re shopping for her, just to do have some alone time? Can you bring a book and sit in the food court and read for a few minutes before you go back with her groceries? Can you bring your journal and as you’re sitting with her, make that your time to process what’s happened this week? Can you read out loud to her, and focus on reading something that you’ve wanted to read?

Can you simply think of that time and task that you can’t get rid of as a chance to give an offering to God of your time and energy?

Some things in life we can’t get rid of, but that doesn’t mean we have to hate every minute of it. Maybe there’s a way to start seeing the blessing in a small amount of time away from the family, or in the quiet space sitting with an older person. It’s never going to be the most fun thing you do, but you may be able to change the way you do it so it fits with your style a little bit more, and so that you can derive some intense satisfaction from it, too.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed, the tendency is to think that we are trapped: our lives are exactly the way they need to be, and we can’t change them. We can’t get rid of our sources of stress.

But that’s usually not true at all. You always have power to make different choices. So I’d invite you to take a good, hard look at the things that sap your energy the most, and ask yourself these questions. Can something else serve that purpose in our lives? Can somebody else do it? Can I change the way I think about it? You just may find that you have more power than you think after all!

Dayspring Be a Blessing Mug

Have you ever had to get rid of your “one thing”–your main source of stress at home? What did you do? Let’s talk about it in the comments!


  1. sewinggeek says:

    What a timely post! Have you been looking at mine and my families life? lol
    I definitely can use this post. I have even printed a hard copy for my mom because we having this conversation last night. (she is not on the internet)
    Thank you for your column and writing. I really appreciate your gift and sharing with others. And you have a good sense of humour as well.

  2. Timmy Boyle says:

    >Shoes. We have way too many shoes!

  3. >Yes, and each stage of life requires you to dump some things.

  4. Herding Grasshoppers says:


    Great way to evaluate those "downers". Eliminate, substitute, delegate…

    And I really appreciate your encouragement for those things we can't (or shouldn't) give up. And you know, sometimes good feelings follow good behavior. 😀


  5. >Am going to try to pray for my classmates during our online discussion assignments. I really do not like online course discussions.

  6. >I've been really trying to think of my "one thing" and even asked my husband last night before bed. He told me the reason that I can't think of it is because I've already eliminated it! He was a great encouragment to the changes that I've made in my life the last few years and he sees how relaxed I am about things and how happy I am with my life just the way it is. It was wonderful for HIM to notice that and mention it :)

  7. Jrmiss86 says:

    Last school year was my last year in a Mom’s group that I have been a part of in some way or another for the last 7 years. In the last 2 years I was part of the leadership of the group. I stepped down to do something in my children’s school, now that both of them are attending the school, I have one in kindergarten and one in second grade. It was a very difficult desicion done with a lot of prayer and though, but I was confident that this is what God wanted me to do. Fast forward to now and the group I was starting at the school isn’t happening and I have been very frustrated because I wouldn’t have stopped my Mom’s group except for this school group. I have had to step back and trust God all over again that I stopped for a reason and know that he has plans for me this fall when both the kids are in school for the first time!

  8. My biggest stress is how I take my 2.5yo’s ‘misbehaviour’ personally. I let her whining, her defiance, and her negotiating affect me way too much (she’s not actually always bad, but obviously her cuddles and good times don’t stress me out! 😉
    Any tips? I can’t just stop saying no, disciplining, and attempting to keep her from feeling too entitled, so I have to continue doing what I’m doing, but how do I keep it from getting under my skin? When I’m affected by it I’m sure I’m not being as effective in my toddler-raising.
    I have a cuddly nine month old who, while not perfect particularly in the sleep department, barely frustrates me because I know that what he does isn’t intended to annoy me, but I can’t seem to remember that what the toddler does is (usually) not intended to annoy me either buy simply part of a developmental stage.

    • This is me, too! I can’t get rid of my toddler’s whining and defiance, so how do I remove this major stressor? :)

      @Amy, if you were in the area, I’d so invite you for coffee and we could weather our stormy toddlers together… 😉 God bless!

    • Stephanie Nash says:

      I actually just posted something about my child at the same age. I was trying to pretend I was asleep when she was calling my name earlier this evening. To teach her patience instead of getting louder and throwing a tantrum. I have been talking to her constantly to quietly ask nicely and start asking please instead of yelling and she will get it more quickly and sometimes more than she asked for. So,,, I pretended to be asleep when she was calling my name. Instead of throwing a tantrum like usual, she started whispering mommy and kissing my head to get my attention. I could have cried! My tornado child is finally realizing patience works so much better than yelling. And I am becoming so much less stressed with four kids, teaching at home, cooking, cleaning, etc.!

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