Today’s post answers a back to school reader question. You can read previous answers to readers’ questions here.
I feel like by doing the kiddies and household management all the time I should get better and stronger like a muscle would after a lot of use, but it is still tiring. Does it ever feel easy or effortless?
Does organising the kids and the household ever feel easy or effortless to me? I had to think about this question for a while before I wrote my answer. Funnily enough I was writing it in a week where there had been a bit going on in our family and I had felt rather stressed about a few things. The fact that I was having a tough week, something I hadn’t been feeling for quite sometime gave me my answer.
Yes after a while organising the kids and the household does feel easier, but I don’t think it will ever be completely effortless.
I will address the effortless point first. For me the reality of family life means I have to do lots of things that I don’t necessarily love doing. It is hard for something to be effortless if you don’t really like doing it! Some examples:
- Cleaning the toilets on an almost daily basis
- Reminding kids rather constantly to hang their towels up in the bathroom
- Folding the never ending washing
- Working with the kids to try and win the decluttering battle in their rooms
But organising the kids and the household has certainly become easier over the years. It has become easier as the kids have grown older. It has become easier as I have learnt more and learnt from my mistakes. It has become easier as I have worked out what is important. It has become easier because I have lowered my standards. But most importantly it has become easier because I have worked on my mindset and on behaviour with regards to these activities.
Knowing why I do what I do
I think a huge turning point for me was when I started to hone in on my goal setting and I created a goal that gave me a purpose for why I was doing what I was doing in the home. It made a difference because if I was working on a household task or working with kids on something I found hard or required significant effort, I could draw upon my purpose. Drawing upon my purpose gave me the direction I needed. The direction to keep going and to know that it added up to something more important than this one task over the long term.
Most school mornings, for example, run like clockwork. I get up early and exercise, the older kids get themselves up and I wake the younger ones when I get home. Everyone knows the routine and goes about their business. If the kids have woken up early there is even time for a game or reading a story before we head out the door to walk to school. Those mornings things do feel so much easier that they do feel to a certain extent effortless. But it took a good 13+ years to get to that point and it took many mornings of effort and patience to help the kids establish their routines.
Then there are days when there are blow ups. There are days when I respond in way I wish I hadn’t and things spiral downwards at a frenetic pace and I cannot stop it. On those days it feels neither effortless nor easier. On those days I remind myself that a day like that is in the minority of our days and I need to learn from them. I need to ask myself:
- What role did I play in it?
- What could I have done differently?
- Do I need to make amends?
- Does there need to be logical consequences for the kids?
- What was the kids’ behaviour really signifying?
Knowing why I do what I do prevents me from feeling lost in the list of never ending tasks, from feeling overwhelmed and gives me the starting point for the habits, routines and behaviours I need to focus on.
How can you make it feel easy or effortless?
The reader didn’t state the age of her kids, but if I were to guess, I would think the oldest would be perhaps be no more that 7 – 8. All the kids would be at school and the reader by this stage really as they have stated, thought it would be easier. I think there are some things we can do to make it easier on ourselves:
- Have a goal for what you want in family life – I have written a number of posts on goal setting, but check this one out if you are looking for a process to follow to set a single goal.
- Set some personal habits that will work towards your goal – eg get up half an hour, eat well, exercise three times a week, etc
- Work with the kids to set routines that help them become more independent – eg getting themselves ready for school, contributing to the household tasks, managing their own homework etc
- Create processes or systems for repetitive tasks – if you systemise tasks that you have to do over and over again, they do actually start feeling much easier and sometimes even efffortless!
- Get enough sleep – everything seems harder and more work when we are tired.
- Single task – as I have written before on the blog, multitasking is a myth and not only that, when we try to do multiple things at once, we end up frazzled, making mistakes and not being fully present with any of them. This makes organising the kids and the house feel harder than it needs to be.
- Take care of yourself – if you are feeling undervalued or don’t feel 100%, it can feel draining to have to be looking after everyone else. Make sure you take care of yourself so you can take the best care of your family you can.