4 Steps to less stress as a family
Every parent I have met has one thing in common – they are stressed out. Our society has created such high expectations to be a Pinterest perfect parent no wonder we are all on our last nerve. Add some sleepless nights and a toddler tantrum and it’s a recipe for disaster. I fall victim to this too. So many times I find myself wanting everything to be perfect, so it will show what a great parent I am on Instagram. Let’s face it we don’t live real life on Instagram. The spilled milk and broken glass, the times we lose our patience and shout, or when we haven’t had the energy to change out of yoga pants – we hide all that. But, what if you could do one thing today to make tomorrow better? Would you do it? Since I’ve had more time at home it got me thinking about what I could do to have less stress as a family. I’m so far from perfect, but I think if I could accomplish these 4 things on a regular basis each day would be filled with more peace and less tension.
Number 1: Prepare for the next day the night before
This is one small change I’ve made and even if we aren’t going anywhere the next day it makes my whole morning better. I decide what we are having for breakfast the next morning. I set out any dishes or pans or utensils needed and put them in their place on the kitchen countertop. I pull any ingredients that don’t need refrigeration and put them out. For example, my daughter usually has whole grain peanut butter toast. So I get out the bread and peanut butter and place it by the toaster along with a butter knife. This simple task each night makes preparing breakfast so much easier. I’m not going back and forth across the kitchen a zillion times. Without coffee in my system yet this really calms me down.
If we have to go somewhere the next day, I make sure everyone’s clothes are laid out. Nothing slows me down in the morning like staring at my closet having no idea what I want to wear! With a toddler this isn’t fool proof as she tends to change her mind. So, I sometimes get out two outfits to let her choose, since toddlers love to be in control and giving them choices reduces a lot of power struggles.
We aren’t dealing with school yet, so backpacks and lunches aren’t an issue for us. But, when we get there I hope it’s become habit enough that we just add that to our routine.
Number 2: Find everything a home and keep it organized
Organization doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming but everything needs a place or a home. Don’t drive yourself crazy or create a system you can’t possibly keep up. Bins are my favorite way to give things a home. Grouping similar things together and just dumping in a bin is easiest for me, and easy for my family to get on board with. Trust me you wouldn’t look around my house and confuse it for Marie Kwando’s, but things are off the floor at the end of the day and out of sight in bins. My mind is so much calmer and I can relax when the room doesn’t have toys all over the floor.
The bin technique can work for your closet, your bathroom, and certainly your garage. I haven’t figured out how to tackle kitchen clutter exactly so be sure to add tips in the comments! Check out my Pinterest board here for more ideas on organizing.
Number 3: Everyone has a job to keep the house running
Parents hear me now . . . . You are not solely responsible for every job that needs doing at home! Children as young as two can start helping with household tasks. And they shouldn’t earn money or an allowance for every task they complete. It’s important children understand that part of being a family is taking care of what needs to be done together. Allowance or money is earned for going above and beyond. Nobody is going to pay your twenty-something to do their own dishes, so why should you pay your ten year old. Having household responsibilities also has a great impact on character.
“Research finds when children have chores—jobs they’re not paid to do, but ones they’re expected to do as contributing family members—they develop a greater concern for others.” Thomas Lickona Ph.D., guest post Meeker Parenting
Thomas Lickona is considered the father of modern character education and you can read more in his book, How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain.
And here’s the other part of the puzzle – nobody rests until the job is done. If there are still tasks to complete, everybody helps until it’s finished. A family is a team, and you help your teammates out so you can all rest together.
However, allow for grace and exceptions. This is also part of the team mentality. When a teammate drops the ball you don’t kick them off the team. Parents, going with the sports metaphor, you are the coaches. Be a good coach, teach and encourage when your kid messes up, don’t bench them.
Number 4: Have fun together
Having fun with your child fills both your tanks. And a full tank is what will get you through the tough moments and stress filled days. If you are always running on empty then there is nothing left when you hit a bump in the road or a detour. You could say the family that laughs together stays together.
In fact did you know there is a field of study dedicated to laughter? It’s called gelotology. And if in your head you just pronounced that word as “Jello-tology” and giggled then you’re saying it right. It was founded in the 1960’s to study the physiological and psychological impact of laughter. There is a lot of evidence that points to the great healing qualities of laughter. In fact one study done by Ramon Mora-Ripoll, a director at Organizacién Mundial de la Risa in Barcelona, found that laughing can release tension both physical and emotional. It also has a positive impact on mood, cognitive function, and friendliness.
Shared experiences create closer connection between parents and children making lasting memories that will influence your relationship for years to come. So, make sure time to laugh, play, and enjoy life together is part of your family schedule! Stuck for ideas check out this article on the 7 Secrets of Fun Families.
So there you have it. I hope these 4 steps encourage you in your day to day life. THIS MOMMY TRIED IT AND YOU CAN TOO!