You can balance the roles of woman, wife, and mother by actively and daily choosing who will do what and what won’t get done. Try a few of these suggestions to decrease the stress in your life while helping your children prepare for adulthood.
Get More Done in Less Time.
Reduce your stress with EDA: Abbreviate, Delegate, and Eliminate. Consider your top three busiest to-dos—is it cleaning, laundry, carpools? Then apply each of the formula steps to create change.
Always begin with eliminate, as there’s nothing quicker than not having to do it at all. A friend of mine, fed up with too many sports and not enough family time, eliminated after-school sports for one year. Success! They ate dinner together, threw the ball outside afterwards, and got homework done without intense drama.
To delegate, ask yourself, “Whose job is this?” For example, children’s laundry is their laundry, so teach them early to do it themselves. Consider having a laundry day (each child has a day and puts in a load before school), or you wash all the laundry but on a certain day the children each fold two baskets’ worth and put it away. I love to delegate (with supervision) and farm out some cooking, cleaning, five-minute tidy-ups, daily dishes, and anything else I can think of. Sometimes there’s drama about chores, but it ultimately frees my time, increases my energy, and teaches them needed life skills.
Abbreviate means to simplify. Perhaps instead of having three children in three different sports, consider having one child, per sport, per season. Or all of them in the same class. One year all three of our boys wanted to do karate. After phoning around I found a class that could do all three in the same hour. I was able to watch and enjoy, and they progressed and had a ball. Do whatever it takes to simplify the thing that’s driving you crazy.
Use and develop their talents in regular life.
Encourage your children to use their talents, homework assignments, or scouting/YW requirements in accomplishing daily tasks. One of our sons loves to take things apart (a mostly annoying talent). But over the years he has learned to put things back together and is now the person I turn to for assembling everything from vacuum cleaners to trampolines. Heaven! Another son thoroughly enjoyed a school foods class and suddenly wanted to help cook everything in sight. Not so much heaven, at times, but still, a little culinary adventure created more down time for mama. Whether it’s for scouts, Duty to God, Personal Progress or life skills, tap into your children’s talents and tasks and let it take a load off.
Find Personal Fun Time!
Consciously take time daily to find or create the fun factor in mothering. Just the other day I was finishing up a great number of errands and suddenly had the thought—my toes look ratty. My son had given me a pedicure gift certificate for a recent birthday and I had yet to use it. Instead of continuing to be super functional, I decided to enjoy a half hour of ooh-ahh pedi, and it was wonderful! Whether it’s checking out a cute new boutique or stopping in for some homemade soup from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, enjoy a simple pleasure of life in some way, every day. You’ll find you’re a much, much happier mom, and that means a happier family.
Connie Sokol is the mother of six—expecting her seventh—and has just released her newest book, Motherhood Matters: Joyful Reminders of the Divinity, Reality, and Rewards of Motherhood. For tips, columns, and products visit 8basics.com.