My fellow, single-mom friend asked me the other week, “How do you do it?”. And by “it”, I think she meant everything – parenting, groceries, meals, house work, etc… , while still finding time for myself (sleep, exercise, having fun, etc…). I thought of this photo of the two of us about 20 years ago. The days when all the worries you had were how much fun you could squeeze into one day. (We were at a Hip concert!) Life can easily get overwhelming on any given day. It’s not an easy question to answer but I shared a few of the things I do (or don’t do) and she told me I should share this on my blog, so here it goes :
- Let something go. Whether it’s tidying the house or home cooked meals a few times a week, don’t worry about it. Unless you have a full time nanny (which I have never had), carrying on with home cooked meals, laundry, house cleaning, buying groceries, paying bills, running errands, school or camp pick ups and programs, while carrying on with a second job – either part time or full time, possibly while younger kids are home throughout all or part of the day, it’s next to impossible to do it all. Slow it down and let something go.
- Let it be their worry, not yours. A lot of people can feel they are competing with the Jones’, and they worry what others will think. If others criticize you for a messy house or not doing something the way they would do it, just take some deep breaths and smile. No one is in your shoes, but you. You can’t expect them to understand so don’t bother trying to make them understand. You know your limits, honour them. Do what works for you.
- Get your kids to help/(allowance). I told my friend how I get my 10 and 12 year olds to help with some chores. (Which eventually turned into a conversation about chores and allowance.) Ask your child if they want to hang the laundry or unload the dishwasher. Give them a choice. (Then slap the chore not chosen onto another child, haha.) It will only take about 5-10 minutes of their time. But that 5-10 minutes is a huge help, I find. When you first introduce this idea of them helping out, it will be met with some whining and resistance. That is where you explain that you are a family, and when you are a part of a family, you are a team. You help each other. (And, don’t forget to tell them how much you appreciated their help, how much it helped, etc.) This is where I brought allowance into the conversation (going a bit off topic here)…
There is an old school thinking that allowance is earned by doing chores. I do not pay my kids to do chores. The reason I chose not to take that approach was because I believe kids should take part in chores because, as I said above, they are simply part of a family, and when you are in a family, you work together. I don’t want my kids to feel motivated to help out only because something is in it for them – getting paid. I want them to learn the feeling of having a sense of accomplishment, contribution, that they matter and being apart of a team, which are very rewarding feelings. I do, however, give them allowance regularly to help teach them money management. We teach our kids everything else in life but rarely are there opportunities to teach them about money management, especially so young. I do not take allowance away as punishment or consequences. They get it regularly from me like they get math or gym class at school every week. If they say they want to get paid like their friends do, simply remind them, whether you give a fixed allowance as I do, or not, that they are helping because they are a part of your family, and you work together as a team. I find my kids don’t complain about this because they are happy to receive a consistent allowance, they prefer this system. (Side note: I think if my child was keen to earn money and wanted to do some out of the normal, bigger chores then I would pay them on top of allowance.)
Back to my main point, when the kitchen is a disaster, just ask one of them to do something little, like unload the dishwasher, and don’t pay them for it. It’s a bigger help then you might realize and will also teach them good manners, habits and work ethic. (More on allowance in another post!)
- Grocery delivery. I love to grocery shop. I love to choose my food and get inspired in a store based on what looks fresh and try new things. But good god, if you haven’t signed up with an organic (if you can) produce delivery, do yourself a favour. You can still do some grocery shopping, but this will ensure you always have some fresh produce (and other items if you like) at your front door.
- 20 minutes. We didn’t talk about this one (or the ones below) but it’s a good one. If you can take 20 minutes in your afternoon for meditating, yoga nidra (download from youtube or iTunes) or simply lying on your back, you will feel unbelievably rejuvenated, with an abundance more energy to carry you into the evening and night, often the time we feel most overwhelmed. I used to do this daily, and I need to get back into this habit. It makes a huge difference to my energy levels (so does an afternoon cup of energy boosting and stress lowering black liquorice root tea).
- Exercise. Some will ask me how I get the energy to exercise, but exercising gives me energy. If you can’t get to a gym or go for a long walk outside, or if you don’t care for either, then wake up early as I do, before the kids are up, and do an hour (or less) or something that lights your fire. For me, that’s yoga. I do yoga routines from codyapp. I download them onto my iPad and it takes me about 30 seconds to set one up and get it playing. Really simple. If exercise isn’t your thing, take the stairs and walk or bike instead of transit, it does add up and pay off. (When my kids were younger, I did it with them around me, which is also inspiring for them to see you taking time for yourself and your health.)
- Sleep. Make sure you get it. If you need help unwinding, unplug a good hour prior to sleep (some will say more) as the light from monitors disrupts your body’s melatonin levels; take a warm bath, don’t eat 3 hours prior to sleep (if you are digesting food while you sleep you will not sleep as well, nor will you digest well), and keep your house temperature cool, and avoid polyester sheets and pyjamas. Overheating leads to poor sleeping.