Anyone who has children knows that life with kids can be challenging. From extra laundry, to bathing and cooking and shopping and driving and school and chores and sports and dance and toys and tantrums, there is no shortage of complications.
So, how does one find peace and happiness among the chaos? It’s easier than you think.The trick is to make your family your top priority, and choosing only a small number of priorities in your life. If you have too many things you want to do, or need to do, your life will become complicated. But if you choose just a few things that are important to you, you can eliminate the rest, and simplify your life greatly. Here are a few ideas:
As your children get older and become more capable, teach them to do things for themselves. Having them do it – instead of you just doing it – takes time and can be a little frustrating at first, but it will pay off for years to come.
Organize your life with a simple calendar filled out with your family’s activities and appointments. When you receive papers from school or soccer schedules, immediately enter everything into the calendar. A quick glance each morning will help you plan your day.
Kids thrive on routine and no routine is better than the one before they go to sleep. Have a regular routine right before bed, which might consist of cleaning up, showering, brushing their teeth, and getting into their pajamas. Reading before bedtime is also a great idea because it quiets the kids down after a day of activity and gives you quality bonding time together.
Don’t Schedule Too Much
Sometimes we schedule things back-to-back, so that every minute of every day is planned out, which can create stress. Instead, schedule as little as possible each day, and leave space between events, appointments or activities, so that your day moves along at a more leisurely pace. A more spaced-out schedule is more relaxing than a cramped one.
Have Dedicated Family Time
Try to find regular times in your schedule when you do nothing else but spend time together as a family. Dinner time works well, as do weekends.
Communicate as a Family
Regular communication between family members helps solve or prevent problems. Schedule regular times when the family can talk about family issues. A weekly “family meeting” is a good idea. This is when you can all sit down, talk, compliment and thank each other, and plan a family outing.
Go on “Dates” With Your Kids
If you have trouble finding alone time with each child, setting up a date can be a good way to ensure that you do things together. Make a date with your child for a specific day and time, and decide together what you want to do. It can be something as simple as taking a walk in your neighborhood, reading together, or playing board or video games. Or you can plan a lunch or dinner outing, a trip to the movies, or head to the local amusement park. If you have several children, rotate dates with them.
Create Alone Time for Your Spouse
It’s easy to become so busy with your kids that you forget about your significant other. Don’t let this happen – it;s a sure way to drift apart and lost that bond that led you to having a family together. Keep the relationship alive by getting a babysitter (maybe once a week) and doing something together, just the two of you.
Learn to Let Things Go.
Don’t always be so strict. Let things go. They’re kids – let them live. Remind yourself that it’s not worth all the hassle to get on their case about things. Instead, let things go and just relax. They’ll turn out just fine in the end, as long as you love and support them.
Spend Quiet Time at Home
Often, we get so busy that we find ourselves on the road most of the time, going to one event or another. Try to spend time at home as often as you can. You can watch a DVD instead of going to the movies or playing outside instead of going to a sporting event. Tou can read to each other, or by yourselves, or tell stories. There are dozens of things you can do at home that cost nothing, and that are relaxing and fun.
Kids love traditions, from special things you do during the holidays or on vacation. Create traditions in your home, whether it’s a family dinner time, family meetings, or a designated “family day” – anything that brings you together. If you make it a regular thing and give it special importance, it will be a tradition that your kids will remember well into adulthood.
Make Cooking and Cleaning a Family Thing
Cooking and cleaning can be time consuming and take your time away from your children. However, doing these activities as a family solves both problems. Having everyone pitch in can simplify cooking and cleaning, and it gives you quality time together while teaching your children valuable life skills.
This tip applies to both your commitments and your kids’ commitments. If you have too many, your life will be complicated. If you reduce your commitments, your life will be simplified. It’s that simple. Make a list of all your family’s commitments and see which ones align with your priorities. Which ones give you the most joy and benefit? Which ones drain your time and energy without giving you much back in return? Keep the essential commitments – yours and your kids – and eliminate as many of the rest as possible.
These days, kids can become very inactive (and unhealthy) with all of the TV, Internet and video games they consume. Get them active by going outside with them and taking walks, going for swims, playing sports. If you run, let your kids run with you. Get them bikes and go to the park. Do challenges, like races, or obstacle course challenges. Make it fun, and get them active.
Focus on Doing, not on Spending
Too often, we send messages to our kids about how to live life on what we do: shopping, eating out, and going to the movies. Instead, teach them that what’s important is doing things, not buying things. Go for walks in the park, play outdoors, read, tell stories, play charades, cook and clean, go to the beach or lake, wash the car.