Recently, my oldest asked me to play magnatiles with him.
“Mommy, can you please play with me?” he asked.
“Maybe later, I have to finish something,” I said.
He would ask me every day for three days. Finally, he said, “Mommy, you don’t play with me.” He wasn’t manipulating me. He was innocently stating his observation, one that was shamefully correct.
That’s when I got on my knees and begged for his forgiveness. So I played with him and it didn’t kill me to have chores unfinished in my house. At the end, he said, “Thank you, mom.” With tears in my eyes, I knew that was what I should have done in the first place.
Intentional, high-quality time with my kids is now a huge priority for me because I believe it fosters connection and intimacy between us.
To do this, I had to get rid of the busyness.
I want less busyness and more joy for you and your family, too.
Here are some of the ways I have made life less stressful and busy for us, which will help make your family stronger.
10 Ways To Have Less Stress and Busyness and More Freedom And Joy As A Family
1. Wake Up Early In The Morning Each Day
Research shows you are more likely to be most productive in the first 3 hours of your day. That’s why early risers have the advantage of crossing off their to-do list before they have the chance to get distracted and pulled in different directions.
I loved when an army spouse friend told me that the Army saying was, “We get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.”
2. Own Less
Valuing quality over quantity simplifies your life and brings peace to your home. Less stuff means:
- Less decisions you have to make
- Less you have to clean
- Less you have to manage or store
- Less visual clutter on surfaces
For instance, I got rid of 80% of the toys when we moved from our first fellowship to GI fellowship. It hurt to see all that money go down the drain. But turned out that as I had less to clean in our new home, and I associated our new home with more positive feelings. And they are learning a beautiful concept called “enough.”
3. Coordinate A Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a simple wardrobe with each item coordinating with one another. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is even with the lights off, you can reach blindly for any pants and shirt in your closet and still look fabulous and put together. It gets you dressed in one minute flat each morning and reduces the amount you have to launder, store, and hang up in your closet.
4. Freezer Cooking And One-Pot Wonders
Planning a week of meals ahead is a huge time saver. It will also make sure you’re not scrambling last minute to make something delicious and healthy, and when all else fails, having to go to Chick-Fil-A.
Dr. Cory Fawcett’s wife Carolyn has an excellent article about planning meals for a month.
5. Curate Your Calendar
“Calendaring” is a concept I learned from Business & Personal Development Coach Natalie Bacon. It means you block out a time on your calendar for each and everything you need to do. To do this, list out every single thing you have to do in your life.
Expect this list to be HUUUUGE:
- Go to work
- Feed your pet
- Attend PTO meeting
- Pick up kids
- Make dinner
- Drop off meal train
- Get a hair cut
- Read book
- Date night with DrSpouse
As you “calendar” everything, you start to realize no human being can do everything you are attempting to do all in one day.
THEN YOU START ELIMINATING.
This could be meetups that you no longer are interested in, a Facebook group you admin that’s sucking your time, or volunteering. These are all good and noble activities. But the key is to differentiate what is good vs. what is great.
Afterward, delegate as much as your budget allows. Our DocWife.com household uses Shipt (my unique link gets you a good discount off of membership), which delivers our groceries so there’s no more hauling of kids into the store.
Be ruthlessly selective and eliminate everything you don’t want to do. And delegate everything else as you can afford to.
6. Have A Home For Everything You Own
Have a home for lunch bags, book bags, hats, gloves, shoes, and everything that you own. Otherwise, each mishap in your day escalates your baseline level of stress.
For instance, if you can’t find your keys, your stress goes up. If you have to find your lunch box, your stress goes up. If you’re late to work, your stress goes up. You get the gist.
7. Put Away The Phone
Digital minimalism allows us to put more energy into the things that matter most. Once evening comes, charge your phones in the hallway.
If your reaction to this is, “Sure, Theresa, in an ideal world!” then read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
Putting my phone away transformed my life not only by making me less busy and happier, but it made me more creative and productive.
8. Have Your Kids Pitch In Age-Appropriately
Starting at the age of 3, your kids can and should contribute to the family. For instance, kids ages 3 can put away their toys, clear the table, pick up their dirty laundry, and so on.
And do NOT call them chores. Call them “contributions.” It solidifies that they are part of a family and contribute to that family.
9. Follow A Routine
Routine makes it easy for you and other family members to know what they’re supposed to be doing at all times.
10. Spend Some Time Every Day In Nature
Studies show that just 10 minutes of outdoors helps so much to reduce stress. It’s a good reason to explore your neighborhood and take a walk as a family.
I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend.
To your strong medical family,