The complexity of your busy schedule combined with your home life can make you nutty. It may seem as though the concept of simplicity is impossible, but it really isn’t. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are a few tools to keep the stress to a minimum all year long.
1. Create device-free meal times.
Establish a cell phone drop box before sit-down meals and keep it out of arms’ reach while you eat (and talk). Assure everyone that devices will be returned once the table is cleared and dishes are washed (by someone other than you — bonus relaxation!).
2. Fix homemade meals using simple, whole food ingredients.
Farmers’ market season is here, so buy your produce fresh.
3. Find joy in the free stuff around you.
Beautiful sunsets, afternoon naps, children’s laughter. Keep a journal of what you notice.
4. Shed traditions that don’t fit your family.
As children grow, some of the trappings of celebrations and holidays cease to appeal to them. When all the preparation falls to you, it can be frustrating to receive a lukewarm reaction. Drop the frustration along with the extra work. Instead, let your kids tell you what they want the celebration to look like.
5. Embrace the indulgence of wearing that outfit you love every week.
Steve Jobs was known for wearing a black turtleneck and jeans. Simple. Find a signature look that’s easy and classic yourself.
6. Consider letting acquaintance friendships fall away to make more time for deeper relationships.
It may cause you a little discomfort at first, but the payoff in the long term will be priceless.
7. Set aside a spot on the calendar for regular one-on-one time with your kids.
Even just 10 minutes of chatting over an after-school snack can help you both feel reconnected. And don’t forget to give your spouse regular, uninterrupted attention, too.
8. Display photos and memory markers around your house.
Pause occasionally when you see them to reabsorb the message and check your bearings.
9. Develop routines and rituals for the repetitive stuff.
Following the same pattern for activities you do regularly, like the bedtime routine, allows your mind to go on autopilot. Each routine you incorporate frees up mental space for all those other concerns you juggle.
10. Find your quiet space each day.
Even if it’s five minutes spent drinking a cup of tea.
11. Offer direct answers to your children’s questions.
Keep it simple and let them ask for further explanation if they want it. As parents we can tend toward dumping more information at a time than our children might require.
12. Make time for being outdoors.
Playing, gardening or just relaxing. Teach your kids an outside game you enjoyed in childhood and see if it catches on.
13. Repeat the same meal every week (such as Friday pizza night).
It’s the substance of tradition. Just make sure you choose a food everyone in your family won’t mind having over and over.
Once you’ve tried a sample of simplicity you may find yourself hooked. The only catch? Don’t try to do everything all at once. The final suggestion: implement something new in your life one day at a time.