The Slide into Work/Life Chaos: 3 Ways I Regained Control

work life balance

I’ve banged on about this countless times on various social media platforms, but the months at the end of 2017 were absolute chaos for me. We relocated to Somerset, moving house twice, Baby Ted wasn’t sleeping and my work life ground to a halt.

In actual fact it didn’t grind to a halt; I continued at almost full pace until a few days before Christmas, but then decided to calm it down for a few weeks because I simply couldn’t do everything I needed to do. But it felt as though things ground to a halt. And I was weepy, felt poorly, felt constantly guilty or useless; the house was filled with boxes, it wouldn’t stop raining and generally being cold and miserable and the world felt completely out of my grasp.

work life balance

But I made three key changes – which were actually quite difficult or time-consuming, in their various ways – and, just like that, order was re-established. Pockets of time fell into my lap as though by magic; nights of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep left me feeling twenty years younger. I began to have an interest in socialising again, in eating more healthily (though this is currently on a backburner due to my ongoing Mint Choc Magnum addiction) and in working in a more fruitful and rewarding way, rather than just panicking to get things done.

Here are the changes that put my life back on an even keel. They seem obvious, but I’m going to write about them nevertheless!

Getting Proper Childcare

If you have to work, or want to work, and you need to do this from home then I’d say that it’s almost essential – both for productivity and your own sanity – to get some form of childcare going. We had a wonderful nanny for Angelica from when she turned one until when we left our old house. We had her for two days a week and it gave me quite a substantial block of time in which to get my work done. (I mean, not enough time, but this is the kind of job that could take up as much time as you can throw at it. I used to, pre-babies, post every day on my beauty website and produced two videos a week as well as creating brand content. Had there been more hours in the day, I would have soaked them up into my work life too. I was insatiable! But there has to be a limit, doesn’t there?)

Anyway, I think that having proper childcare where you don’t have to engage with your children at all and can completely immerse yourself in work is essential if you work from home. I quickly found, sans-nanny, that I was just panic working whenever I possibly could and it wasn’t good for me or for the rest of the family. With a nanny, I can work relentlessly all day without interruption (or work for half of the day and use the other half to sleep and browse stupid things on Youtube. Do NOT tell anyone that) and for that time, at least, I feel on top of things. And the childcare doesn’t have to be in the form of a nanny – I have one because I like that the babies are still at home and I can vaguely hear their chattering through the floors! – it might work better if they are at a nursery and you have a completely empty house. Whatever floats your boat.

work life balance

It’s a bit of a step, a bit of a wrench if you’ve never let your cherub/s out of your sight before, but it’s so, so worthwhile if you feel as though you’re drowning in guilt every time you open your laptop, or if you have a burning determination to do something amazingly entrepreneurial but can’t summon up the energy in the evenings, after bathtime and protracted bedtime story sessions have been completed. I’d hazard a guess that finding a nanny is more time-consuming than finding a nursery – it seems pretty easy to book in a viewing at a nursery, though many have waiting lists – but if you use an agency (I used one called Tinies, twice) then a lot of the hard work is done for you. It’s more expensive, but usually the nannies have already been sussed out for their qualifications and certificates and a good agency will whittle down a list to the ones that are really most suitable for you. If anyone’s interested I can do a separate post on nanny-finding and some of the pitfalls – let me know.

But on to the second (hugely rewarding!) change I made, which was…

Getting Some Sleep

I’ve written at length about our sleep problems – you can read the main posts using the links here:

How I’m Getting My Baby To Sleep Through The Night

The Baby Sleep Situation

It took us being absolutely driven into the ground with tiredness for us to make definitive, positive steps towards getting Baby Ted to sleep through the night, and I think you know when you’ve reached that point. Probably the trick is to start addressing sleep problems before you get to that stage – I mentioned in one post how so many of us are too tired to take a step back from our situation and realise how utterly absurd it is, how crazy the habits are that we’re allowing to form. If you’re knackered and you have an older baby that doesn’t sleep, I’d urge you to take a pencil and piece of paper and (now!) write down a few sentences about what happens during the night. Summarise it for yourself. Sometimes reading something in black and white can give you the nudge you need to make changes or identify what it is that is so glaringly wrong.

I met a wonderful woman the other week who specialises in sleep problems – I’m going to try and nab her to answer a few important baby sleep questions, so if you’re interested in asking anything, leave a comment below!

Anyway, getting some sleep has completely changed our family life around. I no longer want to kill my husband, which has to be a good thing, and he no longer looks at me with the same worn, empty expression he had been using for quite some time. We were like zombies. I felt as though I had lost all grasp on reality. Sleep deprivation is monstrous – recognise it, address it, don’t let it carry on without at least trying to fix it.

work life balance

Easing Up On iPhone Usage

I am going to write far more about this, because it’s a hot topic at the moment, but I’ve really eased up on my iPhone usage. It was almost an addiction. And most of the time, when I was scrolling through Instagram or reading someone’s comment thread on Twitter, it was completely and utterly pointless. Hours and hours lost to the black hole of social media – not the useful news and information social media, or the nice catching-up-with-friends social media, but the sort of social media that sees you trawling through the wedding photos of a person you have never met but that popped up on the Instagram home page. Or following a trail of usernames through Twitter to see why such-and-such left an aggressive comment on so-and-so’s blog post that was published back in 2014 but may have contained a sentence that dissed such-and-such’s makeup range. Good God, stop it. It’s worse than watching daytime TV.

I read a really good article by Sali Hughes on The Pool (here) about breaking up with your phone. I then bought the book she recommended* and re-organised my iPhone apps so that my most-used time-wasters weren’t immediately accessible. I then turned off my email notifications so that I wouldn’t get the little red number flag popping up on my home screen every time I had a new email (which is approximately once every ten seconds and I’m not even joking) and all of these things, done together, have cut my iPhone usage by around half. Perhaps more. I’ve stopped idly scrolling when I should be pretending to be an evil wizard with Angelica, and when I watch TV in the evenings I do so with all of my attention rather than a quarter of it. (The other three quarters concentrating on Instagram Stories, which I find absolutely riveting.)

So three steps to re-ordering my chaotic life – freeing up time, regaining my sanity and developing good habits. What would you say have been your own biggest changes when life has become too crazy to handle?

*© 2017 The Uphill®: *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. All opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. "The Uphill" and "Ruth Crilly" are registered trademarks.



  1. Shreena
    February 14, 2018 / 10:56 pm

    Hi Ruth, I live in London and will be going back to work in April when my baby girl will be 13 months old. We are currently looking for a nanny/ nanny share for three days a week and it’s been difficult to the say the least! So would love a separate post on your nanny finding experiences and any tips you may have! Love your blog btw!

  2. February 15, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    Cut back on phone time and social media. It is so time consuming and yet so easy to access, which is why I always fall into the trap.

  3. Fleur
    February 15, 2018 / 2:59 pm

    Hi Ruth. So glad you’re starting to feel like your life is getting back on an even keel, you’ve definitely had a mammoth load to contend with in the past year. In regards to a question for your clever sleep specialist – I have a 6 month old baby who has recently started to naturally take longer naps (of 1.5 to 2hrs, rather than 30-45 mins). My issue is that whilst I know she’s ideally meant to have three naps a day, I find fitting them all in makes setting a regular bedtime (another ideal) really difficult. It feels like perhaps it’s time to transition from 3 naps to 2, but at 6 months that seems to be a bit premature? I know you’re following a rough Gina Ford style routine with your two, so I’d be interested to know the sleep specialist’s opinion on strict nap schedules/routines, or rules like ‘2,3,4’? Most routines require you to wake a sleeping baby in order to keep to the schedule – is that OK? They often seem to either prescribe catnaps, which can be shorter than it takes my baby to settle to sleep to begin with. Or they suggest long naps that in reality may or may not happen, as trying to re-settle my baby once she’s woken is a thankless and impossible task! There’s so much contradictory information out there I feel like I’m going mad trying to figure it all out, so hearing the thoughts of someone that you trust would be amazing xx

    • Martha
      February 17, 2018 / 10:57 am

      I really, really recommend reading the info on this from We put together a sleep routine for our daughter at 3 months, and literally overnight she went from terrorising us every evening and multiple nighttime wake-ups to sleeping through. Her naps are still a little variable – what matter is that she gets 3 hours of nappage a day, and we’re flexible on when that happens (sometimes it’s four short ones, sometimes two long ones). But what’s absolutely made the biggest difference is a regular bedtime and routine. Bath at 5, bed at 6. We protect that at all costs, so if her last nap is going to crash into it then we wake her up. It can feel ridiculous sometimes to wake her up so we can put her to bed, but it really does work.

      All babies are different but it’s the consistency that matters. Totally agree it can be massively confusing with conflicting advice all over the place. So writing down your routine can be really useful, and then you can try things out and tweak it according to what your little one needs.

  4. Parul
    February 15, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Would love to know about sleep training. Do you need to sleep train all babies? Or do some babies learn on their own as well slowly as they grow. Signs to look for in the babies to know that they are ready to be sleep trained? I have 4.5 months old baby who always slept well (Super well till he was 3.5 months old) and still sleeps quite well. Had his 4 months sleep regression and since then he does wake up once or twice during the night. Sometimes goes back to sleep with white noise sometimes you need to rock/pat/shhh him. I have not fed him during night from 11:00 to 9:00 since he was 2 months old. But I do need to make an effort to make him go to sleep. Started with rocking into bouncer and then transferring into cot and Currently I just feed him and then pat him on his chest and sing lullaby. I do see his sleep habit evolving and changing from time to time. So not sure whether he should be sleep trained as on most night I do get at least 8 hours of sleep but I do worry whether things might change in future. Also can’t let him cry alone for even 2 mins so pick up put down is what I would like to do but it works well for young babies and for me things are working well so I don’t want to train him now.

    • Myrthe
      March 2, 2018 / 2:25 pm

      We never sleep trained our 20 month old girl, she did it all by herself. Slept through the night from 9 weeks old (12 hours in a row). Our second, tiny 3 month old baby girl we don’t sleep train either. She usually only wakes up once a night, but does need to be put down and sometimes rocked to sleep for naps during the day. So don’t think all babies need to be sleep trained. Sounds like your baby is already doing pretty well!

    • johanna_brln
      March 4, 2018 / 8:57 am

      A lot of experts (example: Dr. Jay Gordon) do strongly recommend NOT sleep training babies younger than 12 months. Also a lot of babies do not get sleep trained at all. It probably is a social bubble thing but personally, I know hardly any. And the families are all happy and healthy.

  5. Jenny
    February 15, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    Love the blog (and channels) Ruth – Yes, I would some sleep advice for from your gal. My 12 month old keeps waking 40 minutes after being put down and needs to have his hand held until he drifts off again. Wake up’s then happen every 3 hours there after until at around 4.00am, I just bring him into the bed. I tried your way – of going in an laying them back down and creeping back out every few minutes (and then going longer spells) for a couple of nights and caved after a 2 hours of this as he would not stop SCREAMING!! I’m sure the little stink nugget gave himself a sore throat… Still breastfeeding but only feed him the once (he’s happy with a snuggle for the other wake up’s but doesn’t like being put back down.) Anyhow. How do I curb these wake up’s. Is it normal to be waking up 3 times a night? Will he grow out or is it just going to get worse? Oh the JOYS!!!

  6. February 15, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    Thank you so much for recommending the Sali Hughes article and the Catherine Price book. I’ve been feeling terribly off for a while and I had an inkling that it was due to excessive phone usage. Hoping to cut the habit at least a bit! You’re always a wonderful fountain of knowledge!

  7. Kerry
    February 17, 2018 / 8:13 pm

    Ruth, brilliant and inspirational as ever. Well done on tackling the sleep, it’s so difficult and different things work for different people.

    My sleep issue isn’t with our youngest who is 2 1/2 but our eldest who was 4 in October. For as long as I can remember she wakens at least 2-3 times a night and comes into our room with various excuses. This requires us to get up and put her back in her bed with varied levels of success. She especially seems to have a body clock which tells her sleep time is over at around 5am every single day..Broken sleep is the worst form of torture and despite reading and following advice we are no better off and like zombies!!
    If you or your readers have any advice I’d love to hear it. X

    • Holly
      February 23, 2018 / 4:35 pm

      I feel fairly absurd sharing this, especially as it’s so consumeristic, but here goes. My son is still younger, almost 20 months, so grain of salt and all, but a good friend of mine’s 3 year old was still mostly co-sleeping with them, and the thing that got him into sleeping in his own room and bed and only occasionally coming into theirs was his new car bed. It’s been months now of him sometimes but rarely coming into their room at night. I know if I’m going on a diet, I like to treat myself to some fancy healthy foods to make it all a bit more palatable, so I sort of related. Perhaps, if budget allows, discussing a reward like a bed of choice, within budget, would be helpful? This is probably far too silly, but it just seemed to make such a dramatic change in very ingrained sleep habits in my friend’s son (and obviously so much sleep training advice is focused on babies and therefore helpful), so I thought I’d offer it just in case 🙂

      • Kerry
        February 26, 2018 / 7:47 pm

        Thank you so much Holly for taking time to reply! I’m not beyond a bit of bribery myself! We did try this with favourite bedding etc which sort of helped but it may be time to up my game. Three times last night which is tough going. I honestly think a lot of the answer is in breaking habits too. Thankyou and thanks Ruth for the chat opportunity. I love your blogs. Hope you are doing ok too x

  8. Anna
    February 20, 2018 / 11:54 am

    Yes Ruth I’d love a nanny post! We’ve just hired one and two weeks in, it’s not working out – so many things I wish I’d seen upfront.

    Also a question for your sleep lady – HOW DO I STOP MY BABY FROM SITTING UP OVER AND OVER AT NIGHT?! She’s exactly the same age as Ted, and has slept through the night a sum total of never.

    Looking forward to your next posts!

  9. Gemma
    February 23, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    This is such a brilliant piece, especially about the iPhone. I have recently deleted all social media off my phone and I’ve noticed a massive change not only in myself but also my children. A much happier day had by all!!! My house is a lot tidier / cleaner too as I’m not wasting my time on Instagram!
    Love all your posts and your real honesty X

  10. Carol
    February 23, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Would love to know whether babies do just learn to sleep through on their own? My 8 month old sleeps through some nights but mostly he still wakes up once for a feed. I tried resettling without the feed but he gets really upset and it takes ages so I think, just give him the bottle and be done with it. But then I worry he will keep having it unless we cut it off ourselves…and then he sleeps through and I’m like ‘He’ll do it on his own, just hang in there a bit longer”. So basically I can’t decide what to do! I’m quite happy giving him a bit more time to figure it out on his own, but just want to make sure I’m not prolonging a habit wake.

  11. Karen
    February 26, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I did the same with my phone, after reading Sali’s post. I also have a brilliant app called Quality Time. It monitors your phone usage and you can set up rules. I’ve not had to do the latter; it’s just brought about a whole heap of self awareness and I’m using my phone a lot less.

    I also just bought a journal called 6 minute diary which I am loving. Today was my first day with a proper morning routine in place.

  12. March 4, 2018 / 7:41 pm

    I’m loving your blog! I’ve only just come across it today and have just subscribed. How wonderful to read similar feelings about balancing Kiddies with working from home. So true and something I need to get more of. PRONTO! Also will be researching the Nanny service you mention. 😉

  13. Le-Tran
    March 29, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    Hi Ruth, could you ask the nice sleep expert lady: my 14-month old girl has been getting colds on and off since she started kindergarten. What is the best method of putting her to sleep in the evening whenever she is sick?
    She has been needing extra attention and cuddles, so my husband and I have rocked her to sleep. But she wakes up every 45 minutes! Before she started getting sick so often, we could place her in bed, and she would fall asleep on her own – only waking twice during the night.

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