Last week I wrote about how we cater for the needs of our families in terms of how much time we spend with our children, our partner and with ourselves. It can sometimes be a challenge, yet they are all important people to spend time with.
This week I’ll focus on how to spend our time well when we have work outside the house, as well as our work at home.
One important factor to think about is, that every single person on the earth has the same amount of time – we all have 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to spend them which makes the difference.
You probably know some people who seem to breeze through the day, managing both to work outside the home, and within the home – children, housework and cooking. And then we see other people who just look tired, stressed and always seem to be in a ‘rush’. You may recognise yourself in one of these scenarios!
So, what is the difference or the key to managing both successfully?
There are two components – one is Organisation and the second is Mindfulness.
Being able to leave the house on time in a calm manner (especially when there’s also children involved) is about great systems. Just as in a business or work place, there are systems and procedures which are in place to ensure the smooth running of the place, home runs more smoothly when we have systems or routines established.
What systems or plans can you have in place, to make the mornings and evenings go better?
- Lists – keep an up to date calendar which records events and functions for all family members.
- Rosters – have a plan, which also includes the children, in tasks which they are responsible for eg feeding the cat, emptying the dishwasher, putting the garbage out. It is important to teach children from a young age that there are chores around home which help to keep the house in order.
- Meals – consider cooking bulk meals on the weekend which can be frozen for later use, when needed. Or alternatively, when you cook tonight, cook double and have the second meal tomorrow night, or freeze that one. I used to cook up a few kilos of mince, with onions, herbs and tomato sauces, then divide it into portions and freeze. These can be used later for a variety of meals eg with spaghetti, in cannelloni, made into a shepherds pie or add some extra sauces to make it savory mince on toast – easy! Plan your weeks meals on the weekend – this takes reduces the stress of late minute dinners, and also makes grocery shopping so much easier!
- Lunches – prepare these the night before as much as you can. Have the lunch boxes lined up on the bench, with a piece of fruit in it. Some people make bulk sandwiches in advance and freeze them in portion sizes. Obviously this only works for certain fillings – not salad! If you make home-made biscuits or slices, these can often be added into the lunch box in the evening. Fill up drink bottles with water and have them in the fridge ready to add.
- Washing clothes – depending on the number of people in your family, you may do loads of washing during the week, not just on the weekend. If this is done in the evening, then it can be hung out in the morning.
- Clothes – have children lay out their clothes for the following day, in the evening – on a table, or at the end of their beds.
- Bags – have everyone pack their bags in the evening, this may include special gear such as sporting equipment, or library books, then have them near the kitchen, to add lunch boxes.
- Prioritise … do you really need to do all the things on your ‘To Do’ list? Can some be dropped, or passed on to another family member to do?
- Sleep – lack of adequate sleep causes a deterioration in productivity, and in our mood. Go to bed even half an hour earlier will help with the following day.
From an early age, children can be encouraged to be part of this process – you are teaching them great organisational skills needed for life.
At work, are there other systems or procedures which you can set in place to make your role their easier?
Part of the ‘crazy-ness’ and stress of being busy or rushing is a feeling of ‘overwhelm’ with all that needs to be done before we (the adults) get to bed, or before we all leave in the morning. When we are overwhelmed nothing much happens – it’s unproductive time usually hovering between wandering back and forth between tasks, and feeling like yelling! A better way is to stay present in whatever task you are doing right now. If you are making lunches, give it your all. If you are brushing your toddlers hair, do it gently. If you are feeding the dog, take the time to give him a pat. If you are eating your breakfast, enjoy the taste of the food. When we do a job well, it feels good, and then we go forward in a positive mode.
When you have established systems or routines, and taught each family member to do their part, then you will have the time to pat the dog, and to enjoy your breakfast!