Ever feel like you’re on the Daytona Speedway version of life and wonder if there’s an emergency brake? You’re not alone – parents everywhere are feeling the pinch of a world where “taking it easy” means only doing ten things at once.
Fortunately, on-the-go doesn’t have to equate to overwhelming. Take comfort, there are ways to find balance, fun, and even a little downtime – it just takes a little planning, a savvy strategy and a good dose of humor.
Here are a few parenting hacks that are worth the try:
Be the early bird:As tempting as that extra half hour of sleep can be, one of the best strategies for smooth sailing mornings is to be up and ready to walk out the door before your kids’ heads even leave their pillows. Think of it as an investment in YOU time – to get your coffee, get dressed, gather your things, find your center, meditate – whatever helps you put the right foot forward for the day. THEN, you can add kids into the mix. And, because you’re ready to roll, you can be relaxed and in the moment as you get them out the door. The calmer you are, the calmer your kids will be. Put some time on your side.
Team effort: Make outings and projects a team effort by getting your kids involved in the process. For example, if you’re going to the store, give your kids a list of items they are in charge of selecting. Kids who feel like they have some control are more likely to be cooperative and helpful.
Ground rules:Set the ground rules before you head out on your errands. For example, if you are going to store, let the kiddos know that you are shopping for specific items, and if they want something other than what’s on the list – they can bring their allowance.
Time block: Some of the most productive people in the world swear by time-blocking as a means to “fit everything in” without burning out. In addition to the many to-do items for work, school events, appointments, etc., they also block 15-20 minutes per day for personal time. Intentionally blocking that time provides the breathing room you need to recharge in the midst of the running.
Be good to yourself: Stop beating yourself up…or comparing your parenting to others…or focusing on what you perceive to be failures. Parenting isn’t always easy and sometimes it’s downright difficult – but YOU have to be your own best advocate. Think of it in terms of the announcement they make on the plane, “put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others.” The more you take care of yourself – the better you can take care of your most important people– even as you’re barreling through the chaos of life in the fast lane.
Keep your humor handy. Things happen. Stuff goes wrong. We mess up. It’s OK. Teach your kids that mistakes can be celebrated and we can find humor in just about anything. Remind them that everything passes – the good and the bad, so it’s important not to dwell. What’s important is to live life full-out and enjoy as many of the moments as you can.
Chances are life is not going to slow down anytime soon – but, if we can put some tools in place to keep our perspective and our wits about us – we’ll do just fine at whatever pace we’re traveling. So, as you’re dashing out the door or juggling the to-do tasks – know that you’re in good company, and put these six strategies in place to make life a little easier.