Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round

“You look cute sitting up there.” My husband was trying to engage me with the words. As I looked him from my crossed-legged position on the kitchen bench, I felt even more depressed. He reached down to take another plate from the dishwasher and shook the excess water into a teatowel. I should have unstacked the dishwasher hours ago, I thought. I could have, but had been in a rut all week and could feel myself sinking into a hole.

“I’m on a merry-go-round Matt. I’ve have so much on at the moment. It’s got to the point where I feel like I can’t do anything, and then everything piles up and I feel worse! And I get so engrossed sometimes and I don’t organise myself well enough to get everything done.” I put my hand under my chin, my elbow resting on one knee. I’m sure I looked like a pouting twelve-year-old.

He put the dish down on the bench, came close and rested his hands, one on one knee, and the other encircling the elbow still resting on the other knee.

“It’s been a big week — and I know I haven’t been around which doesn’t help — but you need to set boundaries on your time. You can’t do everything.”

“I know! I so know. I feel like I need a plan to get me back on track. Perspective, you know?” I sat a little straighter.

We chatted a bit longer about some changes we could both make with how things were at home.

You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve been on a merry-go-round: the seemingly endless turn of unedifying events or behaviours that spin around so I can’t see where to get off. It happens when I constantly focus on the negative side of my children’s behaviour; when I’m feeling down; when I have too many late nights; after a tough couple of months; when I’m feeling tired because of sickness; when I make unwise health choices; when I focus too much on perfection; when I’m reactive when interacting with my husband and children; when I’m self-centred; and like now, when I’m too busy. All those green links, are some of the (many) different of merry-go-rounds I’ve been on. Some are small — like when I have a very-tired day — and some are big whopping ones that seem so huge, they engulf your life, like depression. Some are because of poor choices and some happen from circumstances out of my control. One thing I’ve learned about ALL merry-go-rounds is you HAVE to make the CHOICE to GET OFF.

That’s the first step: to decide. To decide to get off the merry-go-round.

The next step is to work out how to get off. In my experience, it can take a little while. The first thing is to find some perspective.


I’m not off my current merry-go-round yet but I did something after that chat with my husband to give me perspective. The next morning I devoted my undivided attention to my son. I do spend a lot of time with him but we are usually busy doing something — you know? There’s nothing like spending a day watching a child to give you fresh focus. They see the important things in life so clearly.

We headed out to an environmental centre, did three puzzles together, looked at animal displays, drew together, read a book, and went on a bush walk. Four wonderful hours of doing things at HIS pace. We stopped to look at the stick on the ground. We looked at the crab display 5 times. We talked about EVERY butterfly we saw. We stopped to look at the boats, listened to the sound of the water and felt the breeze on our face.


{looking at the shadows dance as the tree branches moved in the wind}

{sitting down for half an hour watching the boats pass}

{taking it slow and stopping every few metres}

Ah yes, little things are so important. It’s so tempting to fill my life with so much stuff that doesn’t hold value.

Geting Off the Merry-Go-Round

Getting off is different each time but there are things I always do to help me refocus.

I pray — for wisdom

I talk to someone — I trust (usually my husband, my sisters or a close friend)

I get perspective — to remember what is important

I be proactive — and seek edifying ways to live

I learn

I grow

I change


I love doing a lot of different things. It’s part of who I am and it’s right for me. I’m always going to be that person who runs around one minute and takes a quiet moment to look at the flowers the next. I’m sort of sporadic like that. It’s part of what makes me, me. However, when I busy myself too much so that everything is a chore and I don’t take the time to notice the flowers, I know I’ve stepped on another merry-go-round. So, I’m getting some perspective; I’m cutting down; I’m slowing down…until I find the balance again.

{merry-go-rounds can be fun at first, but when they spin too long and fast, things get blurry and I feel sick.}


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  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Errr, Kel, are you in my head?

    I think I am on the same merry go round.

    At the moment the ride is good and fun. But I know the hurly burly sometimes forces me to hop off.

    See you soon! xx

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Oh I hear you, life is spinning faster and faster and I need it to stop before the full insanity of Christmas hits.

  • Reply
    Misha - TheBlingBuoy
    October 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I can SO relate to this post. Thank you for the reminder…. to sometimes go slow.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for the timely reminder. This could not have been more timely. Im gettting very dragged under by the mood and behaviour of my kids, running a business the stresses of juggling finances having a husband on another continent and finilizing choices for career and uni. Ive had to go back to the Dr for support with this. But I love that you have the support from a loving husband and I am trully comforted by the unconditional love from our children. Thanks for sharing you life. I love it

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I feel like I’m on a merry go round but I stop and think..,… Do I REALLY need to do that! Great perspective kel

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

    This is one of my favourite posts I have ever read here. It is brilliant. It felt like you were describing me. This is such a great reminder to me to slow down and have some perspective. Also to spend some quality time with my son. Thanks for a great post.

  • Reply
    Rachel McHugh
    October 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Hi Kelly,
    I know exactly what you are talking about.Because I felt so blue about things I decided to look at some books that might help. I came across the book “The Happiness Project” it was amazing! I felt as though she knew exactly what I was going through. If you can pick it up its definitely worth it.
    I LOVE your metaphor! Life sometimes is a merry-go-round, and we have to decide when we want to get off and smell the flowers:)
    Thank you again for writing. When I read your blogs “I feel lighter”

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing Kel, as always you have put words to the mess that is my thoughts and feelings, lol. It would seem I am one of many to share your sentiments. Your writing is always a balm for my soul and I appreciate your taking the time to share yourself with us. So many benefit from this x x
    Love Katie

  • Reply
    October 22, 2011 at 5:31 am

    I stumbled across this, and just wanted to say that you put this perfectly. It’s a great way to describe how life is for me at the moment. It’s so easy to keep spinning faster and faster and suddenly, months have gone by. Thanks for the reminder to slow down 🙂

  • Reply
    October 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Oh yes, I know this merry-go-round. We all think we are alone bobbing up and down, but we are actually all on the same one! If only that made it more fun – you know all whooping it up together….

    Thanks for the reminder that we all go through the same kinds of things. Makes me feel real. Bless your heart for that!

  • Reply
    Veronica @ Mixed Gems
    October 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I love that you chose to get perspective by spending time with your son, by “loving the moment”, by being present. That’s the funny thing about the merry-go-round as a metaphor; we often choose to get on in the first place but after a while, its momentum is dragging you along whether you want it any more or not. When I’m in that place, I experience so much mind splatter that it’s hard to be in the moment. By the way, you must live in a gorgeous area. I’d love to have nature so close to home. I hope you find yourself able to stop, or at least the place to jump off, your merry-go-round soon.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Love your post Kelly! I feel like I’ve been on a merry go round too, many nights last week feeling so overwhelmed and tired and just giving up and going to bed to rest but today was able to ‘get stuff done’ while my partner was home and I’m looking forward to spending time with my Mikaela tomorrow morning at the library and a crafternoon at my girlfriends house.
    I was just saying to my partner as he went to bed thanking him for helping me today with the washing etc I feel like I’ve accomplished things and I feel like I’m able to step off the merry go round and enjoy the smaller things like painting and playing with new baby toys!
    Going to the environmental centre for the day with your son sounds amazing! Love how you slowed down to do things at his pace especially the crab tank 5 times! lol
    I feel like your blog posts always provide perspective! x

  • Reply
    Tara Martin
    October 27, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Hi Kelly
    I felt compelled to write and share how true this is in my own life. I am the kind of person who likes to work to a goal and often become so overloaded with the tasks before me that I become overwhelmed and cant get going on the every day things. I love my kids and I too find great joy and perspective when i stop and take the time to absorb the world and daily life at their level. Thank you for helping me realise that im not the only mum who struggles with the ride some times.

  • Reply
    Helen Annandale-James
    November 2, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Thank you for this post. I stumbled on it yesterday and it really helped. I often get stuck in a cycle of something and have trouble getting out of the “funk”. This helped me see that it doesn’t have to be that way and I don’t have to be in the funk for long. Thank you so very much.

  • Reply
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    Lisa Fitzgerald
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    Thank you so much for your blog. I have just read disappointed with myself and this one. It is such a good feeling to know that I am not alone and there are other Mums out there that have tough times too (not good for the other mums, but good for my mental state).
    Keep sharing your thoughts and experiences…good and bad!! You are helping moor people than you realise!

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    October 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Hi Kelly, Thanks so much for sharing this, I work full time and my husband and I have an 18 month old daughter, 2 dogs and a rural block. I struggle so much to feel like I’m getting anywhere, I hate housework and would rather garden or train my dogs, but I feel I have so little time at home that I end up ‘stuck’ in the house every evening. I need to remember to stop and take that lovely walk around the fire breaks and throw the ball for my dogs, take them for a run and my daughter for a walk (instead of only pushing her on her bike or in a pram). Stop and enjoy life and Gods creation 🙂
    Bulk cooking and a deep-freeze have helped make my evenings easier to handle, though I’ve realised its my attitude that makes all the difference. 🙂
    Your blog/FB page has given me many ideas on how to have fun with my girl, instead of just giving her toys and trying (and failing) to get to her to play with them. Gardening while she plays with dirt and water, and setting up a play kitchen that she plays with playdough with me have been just so much fun. 🙂
    Thank you

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    Mary Richards
    February 21, 2024 at 10:02 am

    I’m near tears reading this, thank you for writing this. I’m on this awful merry go round and it’s making me so tired and my head is spinning. Thank you for your wisdom and I’m glad I stumbled upon your post tonight, you have given me hope!

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