Daily Routines to Beat the Chaos: recognizing the importance of the mundane in parenting

Change is good. I love change. Sometimes I think I like it too much – I’m always pushing forward to the next thing, reaching for more personal growth, bigger and better ways to do things, changes of scenery… It’s a quality in me I embrace and enjoy and I think it helps me find my place in the world.

 

I remember my parents continually reminding me to “slow down!” even while I was just carrying out basic tasks! In my pursuit of my wildest dreams, I do everything a little too quickly. I wash dishes too quickly, I pick things up too quickly, I drink water too quickly… I mean goodness gracious. Until recently I haven’t realized how I have let this become a bit more of a problem in my life.

 

Clearly always looking for new things to do and ways to make those new things better, you can imagine I over-commit. Oh yes. And I set unrealistic expectations. Consistently. Both for myself and for others.

 

I starting noticing daily patterns taking a negative turn in my life – I started waking up grumpy, struggling through the day to remain patient and be the Mom I knew I wanted to be on a daily basis. I was just plain tired. I had begun all these new things in life but felt void of direction.

 

I’d put tired kids to bed, (hardly without a fight!) and walk back out to a cluttered living room, a sink of dirty dishes, a floor begging to be swept, piles of laundry to be folded and put away, and a sky-high stack of tasks I wanted to and needed to accomplish for work. How motivating, right? Looking at all that chaos made me want to quit before I even started.

 

I knew the problem – I didn’t have any routines in place throughout the day that included allowing time for the basic completion of tasks. Simple, right? I was forgetting to allow time for coaching my children through basic routines in self-care; making sure they were mastering the skills of teeth brushing without assistance, zipping up outerwear, learning how to button a shirt without help, or teaching them responsibility within the family unit such as helping to set the table or clear it after a meal… these basic tasks that I wasn’t slowing down long enough to walk and talk through were causing enormous chaos in our day to day life. I was trying to do it all myself, and I just couldn’t! No one knew what was going on when. Beginning new tasks or mandating a clean-up time for the kids was a huge fight because it wasn’t built in, so it was continually coming as a surprise. 

 

I knew the answer was re-establishing routines – but I was caught up in how much there was to do, I wasn’t allowing the time to simply do it! Sounds totally ridiculous as I type this out right now. But it’s true! Even the most basic of tasks weren’t happening when they should be happening. We felt as though we were always being rushed about and even worse, constantly behind and out of control.

 

This new phase of life we were finding ourselves in was coming with a lot of really great changes! But nothing felt familiar anymore. I knew I had to take steps to recreate some structure so we could enjoy this new phase of life and not waste it.

 

My Action Steps

 

I was tired of feeling like a big fat failure at the end of each day. It was perpetuating the cycles of other negative emotions and actions in my own personal life. So I took action, and here are the basic action steps I took to create some structural change.

 

  • I sat down to write down everything I was currently committed to and sorted them by priority. I must admit, as I started to do this, I started thinking I should purge from my life even my part time job, make drastic changes and it would all work out, clean everything out to make space for parenting alone. Because that is a job enough in itself! (true!!) But something inside me said, “Give it all one last valiant effort, Susan.” So with a sigh, and the knowledge that I’d have to brace and make some big changes, I started out making amendments with my work, my relationships, etc.
  • I cut back drastically on the volume of tasks within my commitments. Not necessarily what I was committed to, but the scale to which I was committed to that thing. I worked through what the perfect amount of workload would look like within each commitment, an amount with which I could thrive instead of just survive, and took action to make sure that was put into place. Wow, what an amazing difference! I readjusted my workload, committing to a fewer number of the tasks that killed my joy without getting rid of them altogether (because they are still important) and I allotted more time to do the things that would continue to bring me greater joy. I wanted to be able to do these tasks even better and more thoroughly. Well, it’s working, for the record! I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my overall feeling of direction and motivation to tackle my workload with gusto!
  • My next action step was to write down what my ideal day with the kids would look like. I included even the most menial of tasks to be sure that the day was structured out perfectly. I imagined us (as I imagine all “perfect parenthood days”) complete with the kids and me riding on the back of a unicorn through a field of thorn-less roses, laughing, hair blowing in the breeze. No sibling rivalry or impatient fluster. And definitely no whining! Realizing that level of euphoric parenting was unrealistic, I embraced the knowledge that challenges in parenting happen and that they are productive and necessary for growth. But I wrote out that ideal schedule and decided to give it a try. In my mind, at the end of each day, the house would be a lot cleaner, we would all be happier, and I’d be more motivated to move on to new tasks efficient because the menial tasks had a place – built into a structured daily routine. Taking a “coaching” approach to parenting is a BIG priority to me. Taking the time to teach through the menial and the mundane gives my children confidence and character – successful tools that will help them be responsible adults, vital contributors to culture.
  • So I typed it up. This idyllic schedule, painfully basic. And that was just the way it needed to be. And something amazing started happening as I began to follow it. Each time I glanced at it I was reminded to slow down! I mean physically slow down! To breathe and work through life’s basic daily tasks. To talk through them with my kids. At the bottom of the routine I wrote “Slow down, mama, and teach as you go.” There’s something innately spiritual in doing simple things with intention. Our children will benefit from it as we will.

 

This routine is nothing fancy or mind-blowingly awesome, but it’s basic and I think it helps bring all of us chaos-crazed parents back to where we need to be. Allowing time for basic tasks, for intentional parenting in the moment, and so much more. And honestly, it’s essential to raising healthy kids. We know that. It’s been studied before! These are not new thoughts by any means! But I hope you’ll bear with me as I share my experience here, and glean inspiration where you would!

 

Settling into daily routines during the day with my kids also helps me also be much more effective as a work-at-home mom. I feel significantly less behind at the end of the day and give myself a whole lot more credit for what I am able to accomplish each day. When the kids go to bed, the mess isn’t as crippling, and my focus is more tuned in as I sit down to work. I’m more productive.

 

So basic routines – essential to family wellness? Yes, I definitely think so. I hope I never underestimate the value of basic and menial routines ever again. They’re essential to success.

 

Need to re-discover some structure in own life as a parent? My printable daily routine is available for you to download! Adjust as needed, every family will be different! But I hope it’s a helpful catalyst for productive change!

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I have been so afraid of self-love

 

I’ve lived my life so far thinking that I should run from the idea of self-love. After all, if I loved myself wouldn’t that just mean I am self-absorbed and prideful? A total snob?

The fact is, in fear of this, I’ve turned my focus to the opposite of that of self-love, taking”deny thyself” to a whole new level. Sure, being a wellness advocate I understand the idea of self-care… but I have sometimes forgotten that the first part of self-care begins with the way I view myself. I care for myself on the outside for the betterment of myself- but how am I speaking to myself in the quiet moments?

I’m Worth It

This belief that I should run from the idea of loving myself has fueled my anxious life for years and spurred me on to make many destructive decisions about how I care for and about myself. I’ve believed the lie that I am never enough, not worthy of a whole lot of anything. And this belief has driven me to become highly motivated (to the extreme) to always perform, to constantly output into other’s lives without taking the time to draw upon anything for my own good. This has probably fueled most of my life, frankly. The driving thought that I can “always be better…”

At my lowest point, I felt like there was no safe space away from my self-criticism. Even in my own home, alone with my own thoughts, this was the worst place I could find myself. Sound unhealthy, much? My own thoughts spoke so loudly against myself, I could have screamed. That’s when I knew I had to make a change. But I had no idea that simply turning toward how I valued myself would be such a game changer, such a critical turning point in my wellness journey.

A number of instances, people, scenarios and Godsent opportunities had finally brought me to this realization of how far I’d really fallen.

I knew I’d never find rest until I could rest in the knowledge that I was enough just the way I was. And I am! This is me. I am worthy of receiving grace, love, success, and all of that is okay. I may not always get what I want, but I was made for better purposes than that.

I kept thinking “Okay, I need a plan! A self-love plan… I don’t even know where to start or how to do this…” But there again, I was making things too difficult. I simply needed to start. To just begin.

So I just looked at myself in the mirror, face completely soaked in steaming hot tears and said to myself, “It’s gonna be okay. You’re worth it. Let’s get to work.”

The Real Life Change

We can all look at specific moments in our lives that have changed the game in one way or another. This was yet another one of those. Each life has several. This is just one – brief and monumental.

I definitely cannot continue to blog about my wellness passions without addressing the beauty and importance of self-acceptance, self-love, and the positive effects of that on physical and relational health.

Truth is, my relationships were beginning to rot away. I could feel it. As I tore down myself in every scenario, I was experiencing tunnel vision, not noticing the needs of others, not showing others unconditional love, not accepting the grace of my Creator, and for that matter, not giving my Creator any credit for creating me! Good grief.

My digestion, another topic, has begun to steadily improve with each day as I re-learn how to speak to myself.  So much less upset. More on that later.

So can loving yourself help you love others? Yes, yes it can. And this is my key takeaway for myself, and also the message I want to spread on to you.

Don’t deny yourself day after day in the name of humility and self-sacrifice… and pretending to be awesome and unaffected.

Get right with yourselves, let the Creator show you what love looks like. You cannot be love until you know what love feels like.

 

Further Reading I found especially helpful!…

 

https://www.compellingtruth.org/Bible-self-love.html

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12250/20-awesome-side-effects-of-practicing-self-love.html

 

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