Children have a few simple, ironclad rules that help them navigate the crazy world they inhabit – and learn how to coexist nicely with others. As I played with my sons this evening before bedtime (that’s Lachlan in his box car above), I wondered – could the roughly ten or so commandments of their childhood be exactly what this busy, over-stressed mom needs to get her own life in order and buttoned up?
Food for thought.
Share your toys.
Seriously. Nothing is more fulfilling than watching your clutter-levels go down, and helping out your loved ones in the process. While cleaning a room, ask yourself how much you really use each item. If you can’t even remember the last time you used it, it might be time to let it find another owner. Ask relatives and friends if they’d like that cookie press, or espresso machine, or treadmill, and make someone’s day. Better yet, pick one item to give away each week. Wrap it up and send it to someone you love with a little note.
Have Recess Daily
Taking the time to go outside, even if it’s only to sit on your front porch for a few minutes, can do wonders for your stress levels. Allowing yourself “me time” is key to maintaining sanity in the midst of chaos. Taking a step back when you’re feeling frenetic allows you to see the big picture, and unleash creativity instead of giving into stress.
Don’t Pack Your Schedule Too Tightly
You can only do so much in one day. If you try to force yourself to handle too much, you’ll lose motivation, and more importantly, time. When kids hit a point at which they have had too much to do in one day, they have a meltdown. When grownups hit that point, the same concept applies. Limit your activities, focus on what is really important to get done, and you’ll find a happy medium between productivity and relaxation.
Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
Children are the best negotiators in the world. Think about it- whether it’s a puppy dog face, promises to clean their room, or running to ask daddy instead, kids have a multitude of ways to get what they want. Follow suit, and don’t take no for an answer- specifically, when it comes to answering to yourself. If you find yourself making excuses (“but I don’t have the time”, “but I’ve already done so much today”), get into the mindset that you’re not going to allow yourself to say “no” to the things that need doing.
Ask for Permission Before You Buy New Things
Remember the days when you were in the store and had to ask your parents to buy you that new doll you wanted? Go back to that mentality. Keep your impulse buys in check, and ask the more responsible side of yourself- do I really need this? can I afford this? is this going to be collecting dust?
Appreciate the Small Things
It doesn’t necessarily have to be sitting outside blowing bubbles, or watching a fuzzy caterpillar crawl around, but let yourself wonder at the simple things in life. Appreciating what you have in front of you instead of dreaming of the day when you’ll be able to take that trip to the Bahamas is going to make you much happier in the long run. Watch a sunset with your significant other, color with your children, and take pleasure in the simple, free things in life.
Limit Screen Time
When you were a kid, your older, wiser parents told you that too much TV rots your brain. So what happened to that mentality now that you’re supposed to be the older, wiser person? It’s alarming if you sit down to think about how much time is spent on the computer and watching TV. Cutting back on those two things will easily save you hours every week, giving you more time to focus on the important things.
Go to Bed Early
Whenever you can, skip the late night snack and your prime time show, and get some extra hours of sleep. You can’t function at your best without the extra vital hours of rest. Your body will thank you.
Clean up your Toys when you’re Done Playing With Them
After a relaxing night of vegging out on the couch watching movies, it can be hard to get up the motivation to fold the blanket, clean the popcorn, etc. But keeping the clutter under control before it begins is the best way to manage it. Be proactive about chores, and you’ll find that you aren’t overwhelmed later on.
Always Ask Why
Kids ask “why” constantly. They’re curious, and they want to get to the truth of the matter. Never be afraid to question things. If an area in your life seems to need improvement, or if you’re unsatisfied, ask why this is. Never be afraid to question habits or choices. That’s how you change and improve. Don’t get stuck in an unproductive lifestyle just because you’re afraid to question yourself.