7 steps for more joyful work+life balance: Pad Your Schedule
One of the mistakes we make as busy mothers is trying to fit too much into the day. We find ourselves running from one activity to the next and (often) being late or getting frustrated or angry with our children when they don’t keep up with the hectic pace we’ve set. When you stop and think about why your 4 year old is taking too long putting her shoes on, or why the kids just aren’t listening when you say it’s time to get in the car – think about life from their perspective. Did they sign up for this busy life? And what is it teaching them about what matters most if the days and pace they eventually will model is all about getting from one place to the next. Is it really worth it?
Studies have shown that kids gain much more from having free, unstructured play time than they do from more structured activities. Kids who are rushed from one thing to the next are more likely to feel like they have less quality time with their parents and less likely to explore their own sense of creativity that comes from having to make something out of nothing.
Having enough time is also a state of mind, and comes from feeling constantly rushed or trying to do more than is possible.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: PLAN DOWNTIME
Begin with committing to less. Do not say yes to every birthday party, share duties such as carpooling with other families, and do not sign your kids up for more activities than reasonable.
Schedule unstructured time in your day. This time is ofen filled with all those little things that come up, but if you don’t provide down time for the unexpected, you’ll be trying to fit too much into an already packed schedule.
Add in 5-10 minutes more for every commitment (especially if kids are involved) so you never run late again. Do not schedule back to back meetings or appointments. You’ll thank yourself for the confidence and capability you feel from arriving on time every day.
STOP AND PLAN
Is there an activity you can take out of your schedule to reduce the amount of running around you do each day? How could you instead spend more quality time with your kids or allow them downtime with each other? Regular quality time doesn’t and shouldn’t take a lot of plans – think about the kind you’d love to have if you spent the afternoon at your grandmother’s house. Playing on swings, baking, or playing a game are the activities my kids treasure most, and the time when their creativity really flourishes.
“How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?” – Anne Frank