This is my family. We have seven kids; four are grown and out of the house, two are married, and we have two grand babies. Life has been busy for many years for this mama. I understand overwhelmed, stressed, and tired, but it’s such a great life!
No matter your family size, the wildly fast pace of our culture today is exhausting. Parents can very quickly feel like we’re failing at what matters most because we’re so compelled by the urgent needs that come with managing a busy household. How can we possibly have time to enjoy life with our kids? Is it really possible to cherish the moments with our family, even in the fast lane? I’d like to share some time management strategies for the busy mama and her busy tribe.
1. “No means no” and other ways words must mean what words mean. (This first tip is a long one but this is so important, so try to hang in there with me.)
How much time does your family lose because your kids ignore what you say, followed by you trying over and over again to get the kids to do what they need to do? You’ve tried so hard to patiently tell them multiple times, and then wind up being at your whits’ end as so much time was consumed by a power-struggle over what should be the simplest things.
My dear fellow mama, I’d like to show you an UNCOMPLICATED and VERY EFFECTIVE WAY to increase your child’s respect for your word. There’s a change you can make that will decrease parental stress, kid whining, manipulation and begging; and it can result in kids doing what they’re told the first time.
Here it is: Mean what you say or don’t say it. In other words, YOU need to respect your word if you want your children to. Try to develop a personal parent motto of “Say it ONCE, then ENFORCE.” If you tell a child, “stop it” or “let’s go” or “pick up after yourself” (just some examples of things moms commonly say), if you tell them any of these things but then let them ignore you or delay, you’re sending some very mixed messages which is creating some very unwanted habits in them as well as some negative beliefs about your words in their minds. You are making life more difficult for you and your kids by not clearly saying what you mean and then following up with it after the first time you say it. As the parent, you need to enforce what you’ve said completely, consistently, and confidently. If you’re not willing to do that, then don’t say it.
Strengthening the power of your voice requires that you:
*Slow down to give your words the attention they deserve.
*Think before you speak and make sure you’re willing to enforce your words after the first time you say it.
*Make sure your child is really listening before you start talking (eye contact is a key in making sure they’re listening).
*Give clear instructions that are reasonable for your child’s age and ability.
*Having them repeat back to you what you asked them to do, coupled with the eye contact that I already mentioned, insures that neither of you have an excuse to renege.
*Hold to compliance to your word even when it is inconvenient for you to do so. (At our house, we also include the ATTITUDE of their actions as an equal value in following through. Learning that a negative attitude creates negative results, we just try to steer clear of whining, complaining, eye rolling, etc. Once a child gets out of that habit, you will see an improvement in relationships, in achievements, and definitely an improvement in how much time it takes to complete a task).
All of these actions are what makes up the parental life-skill of Making Your Voice Matter. “Say it ONCE, then ENFORCE” will save you loads of time in the long run, once you’ve given your kids a chance to see that “a new mom is in town and this one means what she says.” If you want your kids to experience a blessed and successful life, at some point they’ve got to learn to honor the person in authority, whether it’s a boss, a teacher, or a police officer. The younger you help them develop this into a success habit, the quicker they’ll start reaping the rewards that are available to them from all kinds of life situations. My grown daughter has done a great job of this with her little guys. Our twenty-month-old grandson, James, already enjoys the peace and blessings that come from honoring his mom and dad’s “no” or “wait” or “say ‘please’ first.” Give your children the gift of choosing joy and follow-through by being a parent who means what you say!
If you verbally make family rules and then you don’t enforce them, you’re simply teaching your kids to disregard your word, and, honestly, it affects how much respect they have for you. It is hard to respect someone whose words are worthless even to the one saying them. So, be more careful, parents, to only say it if you mean it. If you say it, then follow through with it, after you say it ONCE.
As parents, it’s great to say “yes” as much as you can, but when you say “no,” “no means no.” Otherwise your “no” means, “beg more and mom might let you.” Or when you ask them to do something but you don’t follow-up on whether they followed-through, you’re teaching your kids that “If I ignore what Mom told me to do, then I probably won’t end up having to do it.” Is this instilling qualities in your kids that you really want them to have?
Save your family plenty of arguing, nagging, confusion, and frustration by being CLEAR with what you say, and then CONSISTENTLY enforce COMPLETE follow-through. The level of peace will increase in your home by leaps and bounds! Yay for Consistent MOM!
2. Perfection is the Worst!
It’s so time-consuming and emotionally draining to set a standard of perfection for yourself. Since perfection isn’t possible, you essentially set yourself up for feeling like a failure at a non-attainable standard. Especially if the task you’re working on is not connected to a relationship, then it really doesn’t deserve so much pressure. Yes, we should do quality work and represent ourselves, our family, and our God well as we put our signature on anything we do, but at the end of our lives, what matters most are the memories we’ve made and the relationships we’ve given time to; so, please, please, don’t waste time and emotional stress on being a failing perfectionist! Do your BEST within BALANCE and learn to be CONTENT with that.
This is a great example to set for your kids as well. If you are raising a little detailed person, he can easily set his expectations at “perfect” and find himself constantly struggling to 1- START the project because he’s afraid he won’t do it perfectly, 2- FINISH a task because it’s not yet perfect, and 3- FEEL CONTENT with what he accomplished because it could still be better. If you have a young perfectionist at your house, they’re probably also the one who takes forever to get something done. Model a better perspective for them, and teach them to “Do your BEST with BALANCE and learn to be CONTENT with that.” (Can you tell that I speak from experience, not only in my own life, but my husband and one son and one daughter are all similar in this regard. Yikes!)
3. “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It’s a popular saying for a reason.
Teamwork is good for a family because
*it makes your busy family life more doable when everyone chips in and helps
*work is GOOD FOR KIDS
*working TOGETHER is bonding for a family.
From everyone cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, to remodeling a room, to working on the yard, hard work is good for the soul and doing it together is good for the soul of the family.
This is one of my favorite pictures of a family work day. My husband had told the boys to help him chop some wood, clean up the woodpile, and get a bonfire prepped. My son Nathan (the lumber jack in the picture) was always finding funny personalities to be as he grew up. You never knew if he was going to spend a month talking with an Australian accent, being an old man walking with a cane, or trying to be the cook from the Muppets but one thing was for sure — he’d always find a fun way to do things, even work. While he had outgrown these clever interpretations, for the most part, on this day he gave us a little nod to his earlier years. In the background is our son, Josh, who is our sarcastic practical jokester. Clearly, he’s trying to illustrate that this is very hard work and that throwing your head back and closing your eyes is a great way to saw a log. (Don’t try this at home, it’s not a good idea. But don’t worry, he wasn’t really sawing at the moment, he just wanted to make a fun memory for the camera). Along with developing many important character qualities, hard work as a team can be great bonding for a family. Give your kids a vision of teamwork and get in there and get things done together!
4. RE-EVALUATE What You’re Working For: It’s so easy to feel the pressure of time without really evaluating how we’re using our time. I’m guilty of that as well. Are we using it on what we really care about most or have we just kind of gotten into a groove and are mindlessly “stuck” in it? With our mouth we say, “I’m too busy, I need a break” all while we are working more and more hours to pay for nice cars, big TVs and the cable bills that go with them, the latest iPhones, and eating at expensive restaurants. If you or your spouse has the option to cut some employment hours by cutting out some big-ticket items, then do so!
The time you would’ve spent working to pay for those luxuries, replace that with f