To-do list is actually a wish list
A to-do list is actually a wish list. Your mind hopes to get everything done in a 16-hour day, that’s if you love a good 8-hour sleep as much as I do. It would be a lie if I would tell you that I’m always busy with chores when I have my eyes open. I love a good Netflix binge session too you know…
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, have a fulltime job, or something in between, there’s always a lack of time and an overload of things to do. I’m actually a combination of all three: fulltime job, fulltime mum, and something in between. And somehow I always believe that my other half has cut a better deal, but that’s simply not true. We all work our butts off to get things done. All the time.
But, how do we do this in a happy and balanced way? That it benefits all small and big people in our families. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be that person who tells you how to manage your wish list, but I will share my own experiences with you. The truth is; it’s a continuous rollercoaster. In our family of five we have three very happy kids, two stable careers, and one huge kitchen table for lots of chats and giggles.
My five golden rules are:
1. Let it go
Keep dreaming if you wish to be the octopus I described in my previous blog . There’s just no way to get everything done, to perfection, all the time. Either you have to cut certain activities out of your schedule, ask someone else to do them, or just lower the bar. Most of the time you don’t want to lower the bar, so you choose to set realistic goals.
But most importantly: let go of the guilt. Stop thinking you’re a crappy person when it comes to your parental duties, that you’re neglecting work, and there's no need to feel frustrated that you don’t have a six pack after having three kids (who wants to cuddle with that anyway). If you haven’t mastered the art of letting go, just watch the movie Frozen and you’ll learn how.
2. Don’t, and I repeat, don’t multitask
Remember this: calling someone whilst entertaining a child (or maybe multiple children), or cleaning the bathroom whilst discussing birthday celebrations, is not the way to go. Just don’t do it. Most of my readers are female, and we think we’re the queens of multitasking. But just listen to me right now: to regain balance in your life you should just focus on one thing at a time. When I call my mum, then I focus on that, when I clean the house then I put all my energy into it. If I’m talking to my husband, then I make sure to look him in the eyes.
This way you can finish the job more efficiently and effectively, especially when you’ve given it a time limit. If you can’t resist the urge to multitask, skip to rule number 4.
3. Set a daily goal
A friend once told me to set five goals a day. Three business-related tasks, two family goals and one personal goal. It doesn’t really matter how many goals you set yourself, or how you divide them amongst your personal and professional life, the idea is that if you have a big pot filled with five giant rocks, then you can fill the excess space with pebbles.
These goals don’t have to be huge, think: 15 minutes one-on-one reading time with the kids, call the client who won’t respond to your email, read the newspaper. Try it for a few days and let me know if it helps. I’m sure it will.
4. Special toys or activities
Let’s ignore rule number 2 for a second, I’m the queen of multitasking but I make sure not to do it. Instead I have a few toys and activities lined up for my kids that keep them entertained whilst I finish the chores that need to be done whilst they're around. It might be an important business call or doing a bit of yoga on my own.
When they were smaller, I created this ‘surprise box’. It was basically a basket filled with interesting things to look at, feel and explore. I always helped them get started, and after a few minutes they could keep themselves entertained. This meant I could do my own chores.
Next to my sewing machine I have a special toy; a vintage fisher price school. They know they’re allowed to play with it whilst I sit behind my sewing machine. Now that they’re a little bigger, I have invested in some games that they can play with on their own: a craft book for example. They know they’re only allowed to play with this on special occasions, which makes playing with it way more fun. Have a look at my Pinterest board for some more inspiration about what you can do with kids of different ages
5. The square babysitter
I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t use the telly as a way to create some quiet time. It's something that I definitely make use of, but I try to limit these moments as I’m not a huge fan of staring at the tv. When I limit the amount of time the television is on, then my kids will quietly sit and watch a show without needing my attention. But if they were allowed to watch telly all the time, they’d only be half interested which would mean I would have to multitask. And remember: multitasking is a no-go.
When I give them my full attention during other moments, then they’re okay to place by themselves when I need to focus on something else for a while.
So, there you have it: my five golden rules to lead a balanced life. It’s never easy for me, in fact it’s a constant rollercoaster of emotions, tasks, needs and hormones. But definitely worth the ride!