There’s homework on the floor, dishes in the sink, two kids are rushing toward you in tears, your husband is stuck on hold with the cable company, and 8 unfinished tasks are racing through your mind.
It’s barely noon on a typical Sunday.
Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing?
Whether you work part time or full time, are an attorney, real estate agent, lab tech, teacher or entrepreneur; the days are a blur for those of us who answer to the name “Mom.” The idea of taking time for you can often seem like a cruel joke. But I am about to suggest that you put it at the top of your list.
Now, before roll your eyes, have a look at this fantastic article about all the benefits of meditation and relaxing in general, because they are for real, sister.
Now forget about the dishes, your inbox and soccer practice for just a second because I am going to share 5 tips that have kept me from going rip-roaring insane.
1. Make time for yourself – and skip the guilt. Even if it’s just 20 minutes every other day, or one hour a week. Find something you truly enjoy and do it for yourself. Why? Because a recharged, happy Mama is a much better Mama, for everyone! Try it, you’ll see.
2. Establish “Cleanup Cleanup Time” at the end of every day. Here’s how it works. One parent announces that Cleanup Cleanup will start in 5 minutes, so that the kids have time to mentally adjust to their day winding down, and the bedtime routine beginning. At the appropriate time, sing “Cleeeeaaann Uuuup Cleeeaaaannn Uuuup!” in a nice, sing-song-y voice.
Next, ask each child which age-appropriate task they would like to take on. For example, I ask our 2-year-old son if he would like to put Legos back in the box, or choo-choos and train tracks back in their storage bag. Then I ask our 5-year-old daughter if she’d prefer to clean up her room or help Daddy clean up a craft project on the art table. (Note the choice rather than the command.) Then I do the remaining jobs. In the event you encounter a stubborn child, ask if they would prefer to go straight to bed. I have never had a kid elect the latter. When the kids are done, lavish them with hugs, kisses and high-fives!
At the end of the day, the house is blissfully clutter-free, and everyone has participated, fair and square.
3. Make a daily or weekly to-do list and cross off items as you go. I know. You’ve heard this one before. But do not underestimate the power of the list for three reasons. First, it allows you to hold yourself accountable. Second, crossing things off the list provides a little jolt of energy and perhaps rewards you enough to keep going. And the third reason is my favorite. Making a list can allow you to break big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. This is powerful! Use it to attack a seemingly scary, long-put-off project today.
4. Consider Un-Scheduling. Kids today have a lot of activities scheduled. As a result, parents spend much of their free time scheduling or participating in carpools, preparing food or other donations, or otherwise not spending down time as a family. This isn’t all bad – there’s a lot to be gained from scheduled activities. But why not take a close look at your kids’ calendars to see if all those activities really need to be there, or if one or more remain out of habit. If the latter is true, cancel it!
Think about it: when was the last time you all just hung out together and did nothing? What if you take an open Saturday and just go to the park with a picnic lunch and a Frisbee? What if you kick it old school and just build a fort? The possibilities are endless!
5. Have a “home” for the things you use most, and teach everyone where they “live.” My husband calls them his “Big 3:” keys, wallet and phone. His 2011 new year’s resolution was never to ask “Where is my (insert name of big 3 item)?” He had to make that resolution because he used to misplace them a lot and we’d lose time looking for the missing item before leaving the house. It is now August and he has not asked that question once all year!
Because each item has a home and we both know where it lives.
Our keys? Key bowl on the desk. Phones? Phone charger in the kitchen. Daughter’s school backpack? On the peg in her closet. You get the idea.
Do we have a perfectly calm household that runs like a Japanese Bullet Train? No.
But I do find that when I incorporate these 5 tips regularly – with an emphasis on #1 – I am a happier Mom. And when I’m a happier Mom, I’m a better Mom, a better wife and a better person.
And as we all know, when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Like what you’ve read above? You can read more by Wendy Mihm at her site, FinancialRx, Some of FinancialRx’s best insider know-how and savviest strategies are in the FREE weekly emails. Subscribe today and let us help you live a healthy, happy financial life!
Wendy earned her BA in economics from the University of Michigan, her MBA from the University of Southern California, and her corporate marketing chops from Nestlé USA and NBC Universal.
She is married to Chris Mihm and they have two kids. Wendy enjoys photography, kid wrangling, traveling, Michigan football, This American Life, and eating at fancy restaurants.