Trying to be all things to all people can be exhausting. Here are five top tips for making life easier. And if you're using some or all of these techniques, give yourself a pat on the back.
1. Be Organised
* Often, we tolerate things because we don’t feel we have time to put them right. Don’t put up with disorder because you don’t have time to change things. Invest time in getting systems in place and you’ll save time and stress over the long term, because anything that you’re tolerating will prey on your mind, be a drain on your energy and cause long term, low level stress.
* If you don’t do it already, get school clothes ready the night before – and charge phones, laptops, etc so that there’s less to do in that busy AM schedule.
* Get yourself ready first - it makes life a lot easier, even if you have to get up early to do it.
* Clear clutter. Have you ever experienced that feeling of satisfaction and energy from a real clear-out of cupboards? Being as clutter free as possible helps to keep your mind clear and your energy up. With children in the house, clutter can accumulate exponentially. Ask them to clear out toys before Xmas and birthdays to allow space for the new gifts. (And if you list toys or children’s clothes on Ebay or Gumtree, etc you might get some money back to buy the next set).
* Write everything down. Get all that “stuff” out of your head and onto paper. Once it’s written down you don’t need to keep track mentally and you’ll find it clears your mind, improves your thinking process, and reduces the likelihood of overload.
2. Be Realistic
Mums wear lots of hats – and that means lots of responsibility, things to keep track of and external stimuli, all of which can generate stress.
* Decide what are REALISTIC objectives in terms of work/life balance, time with the family, work aspirations, lifestyle, and home-making. When you look at your whole life it makes it easier to prioritise between the different elements. And review these twice a year – things change, so reviewing your assumptions about how you want things to be should also change (if necessary).
* Be REALISTIC about your ability to cope with the various pressures in your life. If you’re not honest and realistic, you’re short-changing yourself and your family and setting yourself up for a bumpy ride.
* The time you spend with your family may not be as much as you would like, so make sure it’s as good as it can be.
3. Be Calm
Find ways to relieve stress and generate calm – for a minimum of 15 minutes each day.
* Write down all the things that are worrying or frustrating you
* Talk to a trusted friend
* Practice deep breathing or meditation
* Join a yoga, tai chi or Pilates class
* Go for a facial or therapy treatment
Stress makes you switch off to external stimuli causing you to lose enthusiasm and your ability to respond emotionally, so it’s important to check in with yourself – daily – to assess just how robust you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally. Because, if you’re not aware there’s a problem, you can’t do anything to improve the situation.
4. Manage expectations
We’re none of us perfect, so expecting perfection in every area of your busy life is not realistic. That’s why it’s important to manage expectations – your own, your family’s and your boss’s.
* Decide on your priorities and make them clear. If you know that your boss accepts that sometimes you have to cut and run when the children are ill, or have a special event, or whatever other family priority comes up, you won’t feel so guilty.
* If you’ve arranged partners, parents, friends or other help for childcare, you need to be clear what their expectations are of you. Over-reliance on the good-will of others can lead to a souring of the relationship – especially if you have unrealistic expectations. Be upfront and open about what they are HAPPY to do (as opposed to what they are prepared to do) and check in with them regularly to review the arrangements.
* Our home is our palace, but it’s also a place to live, so be realistic about your expectations of how you want the house to look. Making everything look too perfect might be at the expense of time with your family or your own well-being.
5. Ask for Help – Outsource and delegate
The bottom line is that you can’t do it all yourself. And if you try it will make you ill and affect your family relationships. So if you want it all, you’ll need to delegate or outsource some of the work to others:
* Chat with your partner about balancing the family responsibilities
* Ask a friend or family member to lend a hand every now
* Check in with other working moms to see how you can help each other out
* Check out ironing and cleaning services – don’t feel guilty, you’re spreading your wealth and helping the economy
* Give the children responsibility from early on – it helps them become responsible adults. When delegating to children give them responsibility rather than chores (chores sound like such a drudge!), ensure they know how to do the task and agree acceptable standards.
* Go online for shopping (even if it’s just a monthly dry goods and tins shop).
And if you’re tempted to go for a “Superwoman gold star” remember, you only pass this way once, so you owe it to yourself and your family to live the best (not the most perfect) life you can!
Lothian Reflexology offers treatments in Reflexology, Indian Head Massage and now Facial Rejuvinating Massage. Treatments available in Lasswade or Palmerston Place.