This is the time of year for things to get a little crazy busy, especially if you have kids! School is back in session, Halloween and all the Holidays are near, and sometimes you just don’t have room to cut back on what takes up your time and energy. There is no need for us to tell you that life is indeed, busy! This is especially so when you have multiple school age children of various ages. Babies keep you busy, around the house and through the night, while older children typically have sports, clubs, and other school activities they may participate in along with homework each night. Whatever your family dynamic may look like, life is busy and seems to pack a few more punches in your schedule. When you are balancing your to-do’s with your family activities, it can be tough to find and maintain a balance! Here are some practical tips for balancing a busy life, because we know that sometimes life doesn’t slow down!
Make Time to Rest
This seems cliché, but if it wasn’t imperative to a healthy life, it wouldn’t be so widely declared. Getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night will do a world of good for you and give you the energy necessary to tackle your busy schedule. If you don’t wake up early with your kids already it would be a good habit to adopt, along with hitting the pillow a little earlier. Numerous studies have shown that rising early can help you be more productive and get that quiet moment you need before starting the day.
Plan Ahead, Organize
Depending on your work schedule and how much time you have at home, plan ahead for things like meals, shopping, birthdays, holidays, and dates with your spouse. You can then organize according to your game plan. Here are some tips for planning:
- Keep a calendar or planner, whether written or on your phone to remind yourself of special dates in advance! Give yourself a few days to weeks even
- Schedule appointments, such as check ups and dental cleanings, for the same afternoon back to back.
- Plan meals and keep a grocery list of meal-specific ingredients. Take a little time to make a list so you don’t forget things and require additional trips to the store.
- Grocery shop at one or two stores, make a weekly trip
- After dinner, prepare breakfast and lunches for the next day. Have kids lay out their clothes and backpacks for the next day before bedtime.
- Make designated places for things you and the kids will need the next day, set them out the night before so you aren’t scrambling for it the next morning.
- Designate a day for laundry or do one load a night.
- Keep a bathroom drawer for everything you use on a daily basis.
Taking care of the little things in advance can add minutes to your day, and those minutes add up!
Making priorities will not only help you stay on track, but also help you stay organized. Decide what your most important tasks are and learn to say no to things that will put you on overload. Realize that you can only do so much in one day, so slow down to examine the standards you hold for yourself and make realistic goals for each day.
Relationships are intentional and grow with time and attention. Don’t wait for the weekend, stay connected by setting some family time aside each night and make it an important part of your day, even if it is only half an hour! Dinner time or even breakfast is a perfect time to do this. If you are a full time working parent, this is particularly important; not only for your kids but also for yourself! Without a doubt, kids and parents feel more connected and optimistic when they take the time to do something fun apart from work and school. If you are like many families who run short on time, try including your family and kids in your tasks! Let young children “help” you fold laundry, grocery shop, stack dishes, help cook (as much as they can safely handle), etc. Almost any daily task can be turned into a game or lighthearted competition between siblings with some creativity.
Maintain a Basic Routine
Keyword here is “basic” because we all know that planning every detail can take a lot of time and cause much unneeded stress, especially since we have no control over what can happen around us and needs change. Keep a routine bedtime schedule for you and your kids.
As a parent, you know how quickly your day can turn in a different direction. Accidents happen, forgetfulness is a common occurrence, and life happens! The critical thing here is to practice flexibility, take things as they come, but keep your priorities in place.
Schedule with Caution
The American Academy of Pediatrics found in a 2006 study that organized activities can help children gain skills and self-confidence, but too much structured activity can contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression in children and cause kids to become self-critical perfectionists. Over scheduling is proven to not only cause you stress, but also your children. Make sure they are not over scheduled in their activities as well as yourself, it is okay to cut back. If you feel like your children need to be in activities because the neighbor kids are, or they need to stay busy, remember that they also need downtime for relaxation and stress management, and it is also important for learning and mental development.
Riding the fast track seems to be inevitable nowadays, but balancing a busy lifestyle is not impossible and it does involve some intention, it doesn’t just happen. With these tips you can simplify your life and learn to find opportunities in every moment.