Fortune 500 CEOs are undoubtedly a busy bunch, but they’ve got nothing on moms and dads! We’re all zooming here and there, and I’m not talking about the ubiquitous virtual meeting platform—ha, that’s so 2020! Now that Covid restrictions have eased up, we’ve all suddenly found ourselves once again stuck on the family hamster wheel, shuttling this one to school, jetting that one to Tae Kwon Do, racing another to a friend’s, all while rushing to the grocery store, various appointments, meetings and—Take a deep breath and slowly step away from the ledge…
You more than get the idea. You’re living it!
In last week’s blog, I wrote about how all that hurrying is actually harming our character as intentional parents, not to mention spreading our families way too thin.
But the commitments aren’t about to let up anytime soon, so how does one maintain a better life balance in the midst of all the family chaos?
No need to go with the nuclear option—shaving your head and moving to a cloistered monastery. You can achieve more calm and peace with a very common-sense approach—remember, the Families of Character way is "small steps each day add up over time." Hello, major progress! That’s why I consider these tips to be total no-brainers—easy to implement and in time, pack a major punch.
5 Non-Negotiables to Help you Quit All the Hurrying
Recognize the #1 time-waster and kick it to the curb. Buh-bye screentime overload!
In a shocking February 2021 study on smartphone usage, the average American spent roughly 5-6 hours a day scrolling, texting, talking, etc. That didn’t even account for work usage! Oh, my word. These technological conveniences are making everyone and everything else in our lives very inconvenient. We can easily seek retreat/comfort in various apps, or social media platforms and get caught up in a me-me-me pattern—the result is that we begin to resent all the other responsibilities in our life. Start getting intentional about phone usage by leaving it somewhere when you get home. You can leave the ringer on in case someone needs to speak, but chances are all the other alerts and texts are distractions from the people who love you and desire your presence right now.
Rise & Shine!
Waking up 20-30 minutes earlier can make a huge difference. Experts agree that rising early is directly connected with success. But they didn’t have to stay up with a nursing baby all night, right? There are certainly seasons in our life when we don’t get enough sleep—in those instances don’t cheat yourself anymore. Sleep whenever you can get it. But if you find that you’re staying up way too late binging on Netflix and sleeping in an extra 30 minutes, then rushing to get out the door, consider trying to curb the nighttime behavior so you can seize the day a hair earlier. Having the time to savor a cup of coffee, drink an extra glass of water, and/or sit in quiet stillness for 10 minutes can have a huge impact on quelling all that incessant rushing. Warning! Resist the urge to use the extra time checking emails, or going down internet rabbit holes. (Refer back to #1)
Prioritize Before You Rise
Before you hit the hay, take a few minutes each evening to look over your family/work calendar for the following day. Decide the top priority events/ tasks that you consider a must. Let everything else move to the back burner. When we’re realistic about our schedules, we are less inclined to pack too much into a single day, which means less rushing. The danger of having a mile-long to-do list is that when we don’t achieve everything, it results in feelings of failure, which lowers our overall motivation. We’re left facing a landslide of tasks that need to get done. Suddenly, we’re stressed, agitated, rushed. The five minutes you set aside each evening to list 3-5 “must-do’s” for the following day will open up time and possibilities for a more calm day.
Nay, Non, Nein!
No matter what language you choose, learn to say NO more frequently. In my opinion, it rivals that other so-called magic word—please. Why? Because the benefits of uttering “no” are far greater in hectic family life. Get used to this idea: You need to say NO to some good things in order to say YES to great things. No one on their death bed ever thought, “Gee, I sure wish I would have led that school bake sale…” But you may hear someone say they wish they had spent more time with their spouse, cultivating a stronger relationship, or investing in more family time. Repeat after me, “NO, NO, NO!
Spend time in silent stillness (or as silent as you can in a house full of rowdy kids). Seriously though, I get how hard it is to carve out any quiet time, but I’m not talking about long stretches. Try to find a mere 1-2 minutes every couple of hours when you lean into the stillness. No phone. (Refer to #1 above because often when we have an unexpected lull in our day, instead of embracing it we reach for the phone.) If there’s a brief window of time when no one is climbing on you, or you are sitting in school car line, just consciously stand/sit up straight, take deep breaths and consider something you’re grateful for. This simple, and repeated gesture throughout the day can quell the inner chaos which causes us to feel less frenzied. Often we aren’t fully oxygenated because we don’t think about our breathing. If you have more time, by all means, journal, or pray, but this very simple act of reclaiming a couple of minutes of quiet and stillness will magically produce more peace and time in your day. Voila!
Many experts suggest people stop multi-tasking in order to feel less hurried. Let’s be honest, that’s never gonna stop as long as we live in a crazy, adventurous, adorably messy family. We’re always going to be running in a million different directions—in fact I’m writing this as I’m waiting for water to boil, so I can get some rice going for a dinner side. But, we can all be more intentional with our time and reclaim more peace and joy in our day-to-day lives. Now, take some deep breaths and turn off that darn phone. You’re already modeling a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Kudos, mom & dad!
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