Today’s hectic pace of life can be a great cause of stress for families. With so many scheduling commitments and opportunities, it is difficult to keep up with personal and family responsibilities, let alone find the time to spend together as a family or to just rest.
Here are seven simple things you can do to relieve some of that stress and find more time for yourself and your family :
1. Be Intentional. Decide what matters most to you and your family. Set priorities and keep them in mind as you make scheduling decisions. Think twice before committing to anything that will only add “quantity” and not “quality” to your calendar.
2. Leave a Margin. Rather than filling your day with back-to-back activities and experiencing the related stress such a tight schedule can produce, make an effort to build at least a 15 minute window between events. This additional time provides a cushion for unexpected delays and offers a bit of breathing room to prepare for the next activity.
3. Block Off Time to Do Nothing. In addition to allowing yourself a margin, make an effort to schedule some “down time” into your calendar at least once a week to give you and your family a chance to unwind, regroup, and to simply relax. Leaving home, regardless of the reason, takes extra time and energy. Making a conscious decision to stay home for one afternoon or evening can take some of the pressure off your otherwise busy schedule.
4. Prepare Ahead of Time. Make an effort to plan a day or two ahead of time. Prepare for the school and work day the night before by making lunches and selecting outfits. Put the necessary sports equipment and lawn chairs for Saturday morning’s game in the car Friday evening. Anything you can do ahead of time will help reduce the stress and chaos that often accompanies the last minute scramble out the door.
5. Combine Errands. Rather than heading out each and every time you need this or that, create a list and make one larger trip. Prepare a weekly menu in order to minimize your trips to the grocery store. Plan a stop at the gas station during one of these outings to avoid a special trip just to fill the tank.
6. Foster Self-Sufficiency. Teach your children to do something they are capable of doing themselves that you have been doing for them, such as putting away their laundry or making their own lunches. This may take some extra time up front, but will pay off in the long run.
7. Just Say No. Do not live under the burden of others’ expectations. If you do not have the time in your schedule or the activity does not align with your priorities, just say no. If you can’t, make an even trade by determining what you can take out of your schedule before taking on a new responsibility.