You're stuck in traffic, late picking up the kids, forgot to get milk at the grocery store, and you still need to get home, get supper ready, and get the kids to their swimming lessons before you can get back to a worrisome work email from your boss.
This might not even be a particularly unusual day for you! Do you ever just think to yourself, "Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!"?
Constant stress robs us from enjoying our family life and it has many negative health effects.
So, if you are looking to de-stress your family life this year, why not try some (or heck, all) of these ideas!
Allow for more time
One of our biggest stressors is that we always seem to be running late. Accept that life with kids just moves more slowly. Double the amount of time you expect things to take and aim to arrive 20 minutes early.
Delegate more responsibilities to the kids
Take some time to teach your children how to help out around the house and manage their own responsibilities. Your stress will go down, and your children will learn important life skills, too.
Lower your standards
Excessively high standards put everyone under pressure. Try to embrace life as it is and practice having a "good enough" attitude. Allowing a few Cheerios to hit the floor might just bring you more happiness than you know.
Learn to say "no"
Everyone wants your time. If you don't prioritize and take charge of how you spend your time, others will rob you of it.
Learn to say "no" graciously when people ask you to join committees, help out at the bake sale, or host the prom party. Learn to say "no" to your kids when they ask for a ride to their friend's house, or to join yet another after-school activity that involves your time as well.
Establish routines and rituals
Find smart routines that are efficient and then stick to them.
For me, I would unload the dishwasher every morning while the coffee was brewing. Dry cleaning was always dropped off on the same day of the week, as it was beside the dance studio where the kids had lessons. Find your groove and stick with it!
Create a supply cabinet for the unexpected
You just know that you're going to find yourself in a pickle when your kid freaks out that they need bristol board for a school project that's due tomorrow. And you know you'll get a last-minute invitation to a birthday party, or dinner party, and wish you had something on-hand instead of having to run to the store in a panic.
Expect the unexpected and stock a cabinet with all the typical supplies you end up needing last minute: a variety of gift bags, an assortment of generic gifts or gift cards for various ages, assorted art supplies and bristol board for school projects. Glue sticks. Foam letters. It's a big one-time investment, but it was a life-saver for me!
Get more sleep
If you have a short fuse when you're stressed, there is no easier, lazier road to stress recovery than to just simply get more sleep.
If you and the kids can tuck in earlier, you'll all have more patience for one another and be better behaved when things inevitably go awry.
Use lists, calendars and meetings
Invest in a big family wall calendar and use "to-do lists" so that you are not carrying around a million details in your head. Get it out of your head and onto a calendar or list.
I love the Wunderlist app because you can share lists and assign tasks with other family members.
Weekly family meetings to review everyone's schedules and commitments will help everyone plan for the week ahead.
Make time to laugh and play together
Nothing busts stress better than sharing a good laugh and enjoying your family's company. Think about how you can incorporate more play into the daily parts of family life. Perhaps that's adding a games night, or doing karaoke after dinner.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, acknowledge that there will be chaos and be kind, gentle, and compassionate to yourself.
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