As a mom, in this crazy, chaotic, complicated world in which we live, I am always trying to find a better way to do, pretty much, everything – a shorter way, an easier way, a faster way – or even a way to get out of doing some things at all. We do the best we can, each day, juggling the activities and tasks we’re beholden to.
Now that all but one of my children are away at college, the constancy of supervision, instruction and clean up has given way to advice, conversation and quietude. Although our days are still busy, it’s a different busy. Ah, but I do remember the early days filled with continual commotion and activity. So, to all the moms out there trying to do it all, be it all and get it all done, here are a few tips that have helped me over the years (and still do). I will share them in hopes they will also help you:
- Start your day early with God. Each day, before anyone else arises, get up and spend time with the Lord. Make God your priority by giving Him the first fruits of your day. Meeting with the Lord fills us up with His Word and sets the right tone for the rest of the day. This discipline will change your walk with God and your life.
- Stay active. Take time to exercise several days a week. It keeps you healthy, mobile and gives you a release point for any stress you’re carrying. Find a specific time that works for you, and put it on your schedule. I have always found, that if I didn’t workout in the morning, it wouldn’t happen. If you work outside of the home and can’t get to it in the morning, then you may need to schedule it either after work or even on the weekends. Anything you can do will be beneficial.
- Get yourself ready first. These were the wise words of advice spoken to me by my midwife when I brought my first child home from the hospital. She was talking about getting myself ready to go out or ready for my day, before I got my infant or young children ready. From day two, I heeded her advice and it has served me well ever since. Although she was referring to the baby, I carried it into every day, thereafter, as a life habit. Whether I was staying home for the day or heading out, I always got myself ready for my day, first. As a result, I was ready for anything the day threw at me. In addition, I never had to worry about my husband coming home to an undone wife. It is something I have purposed to do in my life everyday even still, and it has been one of my most profitable habits.
- Plan your meals. Creating a meal plan frees each day from the struggle of answering the age-old question: What should I make for dinner tonight? Planning not only reduces daily stress, but if you know what you’re making for dinner, then you know how to organize your time. Before I go grocery shopping, I make a list of most of the meals that I will prepare over the next couple of weeks, so I can complete my grocery list. I shop once every two weeks, instead of running to the store three times a week, like most people do. That saves me time and travel. Then on Sunday nights, I look at my meal list and plug a meal into each day of that week. Now, I have my meal schedule set for the week and my groceries. I also have a couple quickie, back-up meals in case I have a super busy day, and don’t have time to cook.
- Keep a household schedule. Operating on a schedule enables us all to be more efficient and productive. Kids become familiar with the agenda, and they know what they’re supposed to do, as well. Everyone gets used to the timetable and knows what to expect. Children typically operate better, in general, when they are on a schedule, and that includes sleeping. Scheduling our time also includes keeping a master calendar for all the events going on in the household, so you can keep track of every appointment and activity, and plan your time accordingly. However, keep in mind that schedules are flexible and should leave room for change and spontaneity. They are merely a tool to help us, not run us.
- Involve the kids. It’s a great idea to involve the kids in household duties for two important reasons: one, you begin to receive help around the house, so “mom” doesn’t have to do everything; and two, the kids learn how to perform chores and tasks themselves. Once the children start helping with household duties, they can save you time, while also learning how to be responsible. They are more than able to do any number of jobs, but do assign them age appropriately. We all like to accomplish a goal or conquer a challenge, and children are no exception. When you assign them a job, they also get excited when they can see the end result. Now that’s a praise-worthy event! To my second point, part of our job as parents, is to teach our children and raise them up to be competent, successful members of society and managers of their own households. If we neglect to teach them and give them opportunities to practice, they will not have the tools they need to function in their own lives and families. So, put them to work!
- One activity at a time. In our house, when my children were growing up, we had a rule that they could not participate in more than one daily, seasonal activity at a time. In today’s world of rush, rush, go, go, I believe kids spend more time out than they do at home. And, as parents, we spend much of our time dividing and conquering, rather than attending activities as a family. Parents are spread so thin among all the events of our children, it’s no wonder the family dinner table is fast becoming a dinosaur. However, we decided that would not be us. My children were able to participate in many things; we just limited concurrent activities and made more opportunities to be home together.
I hope some of these ideas turned on a light bulb for you. Tweak them according to what works for your household and make them your own, or let them launch you into creating your own ideas that are effective for your family. Either way, we all have to find practical, creative, ways to successfully navigate through the fun but challenging years of raising children. Bless your endeavors!
Article Written By: Kim Shattell