By Jasmine Navarro, Certified Co-Active Family Coach
In this article we will look into three simple ways to help you as working parents make the most of achieving balance within your family.
Do you keep a ‘To’ Do list? If so, what is on it? Work tasks? Shopping that needs doing? Returning items? Cleaning? House repairs? Helping kids with homework? All of them and more? Demands placed on us have never been greater. We are expected to take care of our families, homes and selves all while simultaneously being productive at work. Not to mention having a fulfilling family and social life. Failing to complete certain tasks on time can leave us feeling frustrated and uncomfortable and managing to complete a lot of tasks can lead to burnout. Where is the middle line?
Firstly, it is important to recognise the number of tasks we are taking on or being expected to do. In the majority of cases, accomplishing all of these successfully and to a high level is unrealistic. Therefore it is vital that we let go of the idea of perfection. The ‘To Do’ list will never be empty and we need to be comfortable with that idea.
Here is just one way that you can let go of the idea of perfection: Adopt a new mantra: “A done something is better than a perfect nothing.”
Many people feel that if they can’t do something perfectly, it is not worth doing anything at all. I have felt this way many times about cleaning my bathroom! I might say to myself “Oh, I need at least an hour and I don’t have time, so it’s not worth doing until the weekend.” Of course when the weekend comes round, I still don’t want to do it! A better strategy is to change your mindset, particular about what is “worth” doing and what isn’t. 5 minutes of concentrated effort on a task can be really productive. If you don’t feel motivated at all, tell yourself that you will do just 5 minutes. Set a timer if you want to. Everybody is able to find 5 minutes of time, and you will be surprised by how much you can achieve in that short period. At the end of the 5 minutes, take a moment to recognise that you have made some progress and say your new mantra out loud!
Planning and prioritising
Improving your planning is another way that working parents can help balance hectic schedules at work and at home. Planning does not have to take long or involve any elaborate systems. Most of us will be familiar with the idea of planning our work tasks, and you may have special systems in place to help prioritise and monitor them too. But how many planning systems do you have at home? A lot of people resist planning things in this area because they believe it feels too regimented. After all, home life is supposed to be about freedom and down time, and not being productive in the way we are at work. However, what we should recognise is that taking a few seconds to make a plan can actually free us from a lot of worry and stress. When something is written down, you no longer have to make the effort to remember it and that frees your mind to do other things.
Here are some ideas of things that you can plan that will free up some mental space:
This can be as simple as sticking a white board to your fridge and writing the names of the meals you will eat for dinner over the next week. No more worrying about what is for dinner at 7.30pm!
If you get hair cuts or beauty treatments, ask the salon to automatically make your next appointment and have them text you a reminder near the time. If you like to do home treatments, set aside a regular time for it, like Saturday mornings.
As crazy as it sounds, you can even plan your worrying time! This technique involves spending 5 minutes worrying about as many things as you can, every day. Outside of this time, if other worries pop up, you can tell yourself that it is not “time” to worry. Studies have shown that over time, people who use this technique worry less as their brains “learn” to worry only in the designated moment.
Planning a family game night or a Saturday trip out and having this displayed on a calendar allows everyone in the home to have something fun to look foward to and to see that quality social time is a priority in your home.
Optimise your surroundings
A third way that you can make space and time in your life to accomplish your goals is to take a good look at the way your home is laid out and organised.
Studies have shown that cluttered rooms actually raise the levels of the hormone cortisol in the blood, making people feel more stressed. In addition, excess possessions make it difficult for us to quickly find what we need and begin a task. Furthermore, if you have no designated space to work on a task it is going to take your longer to do it, it will feel much more frustrating while you are doing it and it will be harder to put away everything afterwards.
Everyday tasks such as getting ready in the morning, cooking, cleaning are all much easier to do when you don’t have to move clutter out of the way first. This is also true for our “fun” tasks like hobbies or spending time with friends and family. Have you ever noticed how relaxing it is to be in a hotel room that has much fewer possessions in it than your own home? De-cluttering your home can help you get an inspiring and calming place to work and live in. This will provide benefits not just to you, but to your family members too.
Remember that the clutter that you see is actually things that you use everyday, and probably need to keep, albeit in a more organised way. The reason these things are left out on show is that there is probably too many unused things in your cupboards that are taking up space. These you can donate or recycle. Dedicating 30 minutes every weekend to going through your cupboards and looking for excess will quickly add up to a clutter free house.
One golden rule to remember when de-cluttering is that you should never de-clutter other people’s things. Instead, start with your own possessions and you will probably find that the people around you enjoy the new space and clarity and will be inspired to follow your lead.