Ever wonder how will I ever have time? Time for the terrible schedule of the day? Time to fit in what you want to do vs. what you need to do? Time to meet that quality time in, or list of chores while maintaining the norm? Here’s my list of suggestions to jump start your day and overall improve your daily life:
Family Time- I often forget how blessed I am, to have the time I do. Although I have the ability, to schedule myself all day, I too struggle to ensure substantial quality time with my loved ones. This is the most popular thing I hear people state they wish they could do more of. In a world of instant gratification and communication through fingertips, folks seem to have forgotten the value in sitting together in conversation. Whether it is your kids, your significant other, your parents, or your friends there is simply a limited connection to share without physical interaction. I have made it a point to start treating everyone like someone I just met and can’t wait to get to know. I make it a point to schedule dates. I plan, even if for an hour, a way to actually to connect with this person, who means so much to me. This has resulted in lasting friendships, that I can reminisce as some of my most valued moments. So why if we make a point to connect with others as a social connection, why not apply the same to all emotional relationships. In my house, we have made it a regular thing to plan “family night out date” where we eat out, go for ice cream, see a movie or do some other spending related activity once per week. Business obligations often pull us all in different directions at different times, but planning a night out gives us an exciting thing to look forward to. As a rule, anytime we can, we dine family style and try to do so with all electronics removed. This encourages us to all ask one another what is going on, while having the commitment to genuinely participate. We try to mix it up and do a movie night every so often if we are strapped in a busy week, yet on the slow weeks we take advantage and cook together! No matter what plan is decided, the simple answer is to disconnect. Leaving behind electronics, work, email, chores, and other obligations for an hour in unison is what connects us. When’s the last time you were talking to someone and realized they had been fully submerged in something else? You can probably think of one from today! Set an example, be the change, and disconnect. It will role model healthy and respectful boundaries of love while encouraging and nurturing a more loving relationship with your family.
“The actual secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” -William Morris
Laundry– Don’t be a slave to “laundry day”. I throw a load in the morning first thing with kitchen duties and make sure it gets to the dryer while I am cooking dinner because my machine is in the kitchen. Have a habit of getting it clean but avoid folding? I fold a morning load while I make my bed and a load in the evening while the kids take their baths. This method ensures you are never outnumbered for the day by missing socks, streamlines what needs to get done, and all while tying into an activity that I have as routine each day. Avoiding a full day of laundry allows me to schedule that adventure with the kids or some much-needed mommy time.
Exercise -I have a hard time getting motivated to exercise as it is, but accompanied with the guilt of everything else I “should” be doing it seems my excuses outnumber my desire to fit my favorite pair of jeans. Wake up 30 min early on the days you can, and plan 30 minutes after “bedtime” on the days you can’t. SET AN ALARM and make it routine to spend 30 min doing strength exercise. I love my kettlebell because I can work my whole body, but you can even utilize your own body’s resistance and work things like crunches, push-ups, burpees, planking, and more. My kids and I try to get outside after school for an hour of outside time whenever the weather is nice, but honestly this is the exercise time they need. You can take that time to include a family activity such as a neighborhood walk, bike ride, relay race, game of tag or any other match. You’d be surprised how many calories you can burn giving 30-60 min of play. playing = cardio!
Down Time- Everyone needs time at the end of the day to unwind. Alone. Guilt Free. The old rule “You can’t take care of anyone or anything if you don’t first take care of yourself” is right. Put the kids down by a regulated “bed time” each night. Get that quick load of laundry folded at the end of the bed. Then immediately make your time work for you. Sure! It is true some days this is the hour to handle that one thing that you just couldn’t do. If you practice this time as a regular part of routine it will not be long before you find yourself reading that book, enjoying that bubble bath, painting your nails, finishing or discovering that hobby, or maybe even getting that sleep that’s been missing for over a decade. Do yourself a favor. Make the hour happen. Make it a specific time each day. You will thank me.
Dinner- I laugh as I make this a category because we all need to eat dinner, right?! If you are any kind of mom those rascals are at the very least getting chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, or pizza! I long to be an incredible Pinterest savvy mom, with a spotless home, and yes, have pictures of my talent showcased through my cuisine. The reality is, some days I am like “whoa, we made it!” I try to limit eating out because our budget is small, but even when it was big I could find a million things I’d rather spend money on. We aim for one fun family night of take out or dine out per week. The rest of the week I am looking for crock pot recipes, grilling ideas, and fun spins on the traditional. Crock pots allow me to prep at dinner time while cooking for the next day. I simply prep everything that needs to cook into the stone piece, cover, and refrigerate until morning. There is no greater feeling that waking up and putting that stone in and turning it on, only to think to myself “Dinner is done.” Grilling is one of my favorites, ALL YEAR ROUND. This cuts dishes in half, gives the yummiest flavors in the shortest time, and is a healthy alternative to frying or baking many dishes. Get creative and plan meals that include NOTHING prepared stove top! THE BEST! For a fun spin on traditional family style meals, remove the table, and set out a blanket for a family picnic in the yard or at the beach! My kids love this and many times it is a win-win for me.
Chores-Picking up as you go is already a challenge for many. Work schedules, Activity schedules, or even sheer number of members in your home may leave you feeling strapped for time to even tidy up. I have three boys, and “stuff” is always trying to take over our home. Embrace that messes mean you are living in your home and good for you. Encourage children or any additional members to pick up as they are finished with an item. If everyone gives a hand as they are done using items you will soon see that you can focus on those things that seem to need a planner. I assign my children to age-appropriate jobs such as setting and clearing the table, running a vacuum, making beds, putting away their clothes, and even dusting or wiping things down. Not all in one day, but as needed these are items they can help with. I also have a teen, who has been cleaning his bathroom since age 8. Will you need to check behind them? Yes. What you will have is an overall better attitude and respect toward cleanliness and helping one another out. Eventually, they may even have a chore they enjoy doing, do it well, and completely blow your mind! Does this eliminate you needed chore time? NO. Break down a time of day that is helpful for you to focus 15-30 min a day on the big stuff. Notice the dust on the baseboard while using the bathroom? Give it 5 minutes today, and tomorrow it won’t be there. Have a closet making you crazy? Remove one unwanted item a day and put it to donation, trash or for sale. We all get burdened by the size of the house and the time needed, but if you break it down to 10 minutes here and there for difficult areas, you’ll find that they are getting done. You will not need a week off to catch up on life.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Corey
How do you make it all happen? What do you wish you had more time for throughout your day? What are your struggles to beat your list and make it work for you?