The day-to-day running of a modern household is anything but typical. “Routine” is a fluid concept. Every day is different. Some moms stay home, some dads stay home. Some moms work outside of the house, some dads do. Many parents are working from home more frequently.
This isn’t your grandmother’s norm.
Yet, a lot of what existed for our grandmothers still fill our lives, too.
Keeping track of the schedules — and we mean ALL schedules, from sports to birthdays to visits. And, as time goes on, things have become even more complicated, so we’re inundated with all of it.
The pressure mounts from all sides. And, just as the modern family’s “routine” isn’t the norm, the person handling all the duties isn’t traditionally the same person from one family to the next…but, more often than not, the burden still falls to Mom.
Think about it.
When Aunt Ruth is coming over to see how baby’s grown, are you tripping over yourself to put just the right outfit (i.e. the one Aunt Ruth gave her)?
Are you the one who plans every single family vacation, down to the minute?
Do you send out cards to absolutely every family member and friend for each birthday, anniversary, and holiday?
Are you the birthday party planner at your house?
We’re not suggesting you drop everything. The reason you do all of these things is usually to brighten someone else’s day, which is admirable and kind. But, maybe these few simple tips will help lighten your load in this society of “must be all things to all people.”
Pick and choose
It may sound like even more work (sorry!), but make a list of all the things you do. No, really, ALL of them. Not just the day-to-day to-do lists that we all bury ourselves with, but the invisible ongoing projects that never feel quite finished.
Seeing it laid out in front of you may help you to realize that you simply don’t NEED to do it all.
Put a heart next to all the things that you enjoy doing. These are heart-fillers. They bring you joy and don’t feel like a burden. They should definitely stay.
Then, put a dash next to the items that you’re not keen on doing. Ask yourself which ones really NEED to be there anymore. Say bye-bye and allow yourself the stress relief that goes along with a guilt-free break-up. It’s not good for you and not necessary for your family, so be gone with it!
The items that are leftover on that list you just wrote? You know, the ones that are kind of necessary but you’re not super in love with? Take a deeper look at them. Are you putting more effort than necessary into them?
For example, birthday parties are awesome and fun – but not always for the planner. Try picking out the bare minimums that you “need” to make an enjoyable event for all. Does it really matter if you make a homemade cake or pick up a local one? (Or, better yet, have someone else pick one up! We often have aunts and uncles or grandparents clamoring to do something; this is their chance!) Do we need to have a million activities all planned out for the kids to do, or will a simple basket of outdoor toys suffice?
Or, how about that list of cards to send out? Do you have to remember every single special moment in people’s lives? If it’s important to you, it should be in the heart category. If not, maybe just do birthdays. You can even take some time one afternoon to fill out and address your cards for the year, then grab them as your planner lets you know it’s time for them to go.
Hopefully, you’ll find a way to simplify any task to some extent.
Get the whole family involved
Let’s call this one “sharing the love.” Sometimes the things that seem burdensome to us may actually be fun to our kids (or even our spouses, who may not be aware that you were in need of some help in the first place).
There are some things that are simply important for the whole family to have a say in. Take, for instance, family vacation. You can start by asking your significant other to offer some ideas, share your own, then take a few favorites to your democracy of children. They’ll be grateful to have a say and it may make the vacation even sweeter for your kids knowing that they had a say in it.
It may sound obvious, but it’s totally okay to go to your family with any issues you’re having. If the schedule is overwhelming, ask for their opinions on how to slow things down or keep track of things better. (A family calendar where they’re responsible for filling in their practice and game schedule might be a good starting point.) And getting kids on board with their own chores will not only take things off your plate but give them a sense of responsibility and an awareness for all that their parents do for them.
Cut yourself some slack
Last but not least, it’s important to think of yourself. Allow yourself downtime, even if it’s just to drink a cup of tea and read or diffuse some lavender essential oil. Know that you are a hugely important member of your family and you deserve a lighter load, for the sake of your own well-being as well as your family’s. We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves.
Remember that the important things will get done, and if something slips through the cracks, it’s hardly as big a deal as you may think. It’s important to take the time to enjoy these days, as busy as they may be, for some day things will be much slower, much quieter, and you’ll long for the love and energy that fills your house now.