For those of us who have children at home, they have a major impact on the way we live our lives, including how we manage our time and our space.
We Can be Productive While Raising Happy, Healthy Kids
I've raised five kids–two girls and three boys–to happy, healthy adulthood. While I was raising them I taught childbirth classes for a couple of years, was involved in various ministries, and later finished college and law school and started a law career.
None of that, however, makes me an expert on raising kids. I've made plenty of mistakes as a mother, and there are lots of things I'd do differently if I had a do-over.
But maybe that's part of what I bring to the table in this discussion: not only the things I've done that worked, but also those that did not.
With that as context, here are a few of the things I know about raising kids and managing life with kids in such a way as to be productive (in the sense that we use “productive” on this show:
- Kids are resilient. Despite how we might feel about it, our mistakes aren't likely to ruin them for life.
- What they need most of all is to know you love them–and love covers the multitude of parenting “sins.”
- At least when they're young, kids have no concept of “quality time.” They need as much of our time as we can give them, so we need to factor that in to our decision-making about what commitments to take on at various stages of our life.
- Kids can become happy, well adjusted, well rounded, accomplished adults without owning every cool toy and without participating in every extracurricular activity the world offers. Listener Janell said it this way: “Under-program your kids. Find the balance between your kids' requests to play basketball, soccer, . . . and your own need to feel like you are providing them with the best possible childhood against the amount of time you realistically do have. Aim lower than you think you should and you will have the time you need for your important projects. Everyone will also be happier.”
- Kids need structure and boundaries. Routines provide the benefits we've talked about before not only for us, but also for our children. And rules–few but consistently applied–give them the sense of security that comes from knowing what to expect. For some experts' input on this topic, see “Why Kids Need Rules,” by Marianne Neifert, M.D., and “Your Kids Want Boundaries,” by Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD.
- Kids also need time to be kids (without every moment scheduled for them). Giving them that time also frees up time for us to do other tasks that are important to us.
- Kids need to be contributing members of society (i.e., your household). From a young age they can learn to do things to help around the house (without expecting to get paid for it). This will help them become more competent, confident adults, and it will make life less stressful for you.
- Life will be more peaceful if we recognize their limits, and don't put them in situations where they're set up for failure.
- One of the keys to survival–and productivity–in a house with kids is communication. Speaking practically, have a single central calendar on which everybody's activities and appointments are posted. Check out ClutterDiet for more ideas for creating a Communication Station for your family.
- Every kid, every mom, every family is different. Don't judge other moms based on works for you and your kid. And don't judge yourself by what other moms do.
Be kinder to yourself and make sure you are looking at the right comparator group. Energy spent berating yourself about the fact that your home does not meet the standard of your neighbor’s home (when your neighbor doesn’t work over 40 hours a week out of the home) is not a good use of energy and takes energy that could otherwise be used productively. ~ listener Janell
Why does all this matter?
Because as moms, our children are a high priority. Ensuring that they are happy and healthy is an important part of building a life that matters. When we can learn to be at peace with how we're raising our kids, we have more energy for creative thinking and accomplishing the other things that are important to us.
What do you think?
Resources and Reminders:
- Listener Pat Thurston recommends the Organize 365 blog and podcast for great tips on managing a household with kids. Episode 62 of the podcast talks about how to create morning and evening routines. Pat says, “One of her biggest ideas is to have a “Sunday Basket.” She uses Sundays as her day to get all her paperwork organized, though she emphasizes it can be any day. Another idea is to have separate magnetic clips on your fridge (one for each kid or person) with all the paperwork needed (permission slips, etc.) for the week, with the top one being the one needed first.”
- The calendar app I use and love on my Mac, BusyCal, is being offered at 20% off through September 29, 2015. Use coupon code SMILEWORTHY to get the discount–but don't wait. Offer ends September 29.
- Pat Thurston also recommends the Time Timer – a countdown clock that is visual so kids (or adults for that matter) can see how much time is left. Pat says, “It is used in classrooms, at home (my daughter uses it with my grandkids) and in the office (I often use it if I really need to be productive or am using the Pomodoro technique).”
- Don't forget to check out our sponsor, PrepDish: “your secret weapon to easy, healthy family meals.” Take advantage of the special price of $4 for the first month's worth of healthy, delicious meal plans, complete with shopping lists and preparation instructions, by visiting PrepDish.com/productive.
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