I’m writing this on a plane, as I’m coming back from one of many fencing tournaments that we travel to locally and all across the U.S. Trust me when I say that I know what “busy” feels like. I run two businesses and a household with 3 kids. If I thought too much about all of the things I’d like to do, I might just lose my mind. So instead, I set realistic goals for myself, and I delegate and get help whenever I can.
Here’s how I get through my crazy life:
1. Just say “no”
I used to be an over eager volunteer, signing myself up for room parent, chairperson for a school fundraiser, and a myriad of other projects. For the sake of my sanity, I narrowed it down to a couple of projects and assorted field trips. Bottom line, if a request is going to get in the way of what I can handle, I have no problem saying no. I’m careful not to add stress to my life by overextending myself.
You can’t do what an entire company does, why would you expect the same at home? Toddlers can’t do much for you except give you more work, but once the kids get to grade school, you can start delegating small, simple tasks. We had the kids setting, clearing and wiping down the dinner table very early on. As parents, we have to stop doing everything for them all of the time, when they are fully capable of doing some of it themselves. Besides, they’ll learn valuable life skills and be an active part of the family.
3. Creative time management
I like to identify pockets of time and assign a task to be completed to them. Nothing beats a nice big fat block of uninterrupted time to do my thing. But those are far and few between. The alternative is to fit a small project in between homework questions, school schedules, extracurricular activities, and so on. So while the kids are at practice, I might be in the car or the waiting area, doing my bookkeeping, booking travel for fencing trips or ordering supplies for my business.
4. Be realistic
I accepted that my house will never look like Martha Stewart’s…ever. And I’m okay with that. The laundry will be done, but it may or may not be folded. Please take it directly from the basket (or even the dryer) if I don’t get around to it. Hey it’s clean; be thankful for that!
5. Find shortcuts
This is especially important when dealing with every day necessities like clean clothes and food. When I do get around to folding the laundry, I get the kids to put it away. I fold, and they find its proper home. Otherwise, it will probably never get put away (my least favourite task). As for lunch and dinner items, I make and continue building on a list of dishes that are easy and fast to make that my family enjoys. I draw from that mental library when I’m at the grocery store, and it helps me plan for the week.
6. ‘ME’ time
I have to be number one. Seriously. If I’m happy, everyone else will be too. No one likes a grouchy Virg. If I feel like I’m going to crack, I take a chocolate break. If 10 minutes is all I have, I seize it and relish in the quiet. I book semi-annual trips that don’t involve any kids…just short getaways, so that I’m not removed from the scene for too long. But I’m away long enough to regroup. And I always make time for lunch/dinner with friends and date nights. I set aside time for myself where I am conscious and grateful for the break. I’m done feeling guilty for it, because I totally earned it 🙂
7. Get organised
I have three kids that are competitive fencers. That means lots of traveling locally and all over the U.S. I also run two businesses, not to mention my full-time job as parent. So it can get crazy with bills, schedules, and never ending to-do lists. I depend on my iPhone to keep my life together. I have running lists in my notes section on my iPhone for Target and Costco. Any tasks I set in my calendar always have two reminders. A good organizer or even a simple notebook works just as well, and there are times when I’ve got a Post-it or two stuck in strategic places for the super urgent/important items.
8. Get it off your chest
I often times have this project with many moving parts and it stresses me out, because I can’t quite get my brain wrapped around it. So I sit down and map it out in my notebook. I make notes and draw diagrams around my outline of the project. Once I get a rough draft of how I’m going to tackle the project, I feel A LOT better.
9. Keep the beauty regimen simple
I have one day cream, one night cream and one eye cream. I don’t use anything else, except sunblock. Makeup is made up of neutral colors with a single cobalt eyeshadow just for fun. I used to buy all kinds of colors and never use them. All of my jewelry is from my own line which consists of match-everything pieces or pieces of a single color scheme. I can accessorize in a minute and go. And I’ve stopped asking for looks from my hairdresser that are tough to keep up.
So this is how I do it. Everyone’s lives are different, but I think most of the concepts I mentioned are more or less the same for every parent. It IS possible to create calm in the chaos. It just takes being realistic and creative, but you can do it too 😀