Does family life feel too disorganized? Too chaotic? Too erratic? Would you like more ease and flow and calm in your home?
I know exactly how you feel, mama.
The busyness of life seems to have leaked into our home life. Now instead of feeling like a sanctuary, home can feel like mayhem. We probably don't want to stamp all of the idiosyncrasies out of family life—because that would make life boring. But we can create a bit more ease and flow. And our kids can contribute to that sense of ease and flow, too.
Here are four realistic ways to create some calm in your home.
1. Agree where things live
While it may seem daunting, you can have a place for everything. The school notes go on the fridge, the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the toys in the toy box, the shoes by the front door and the books on the bookshelf.
This won't guarantee that everything will put in its place, but it does mean that our kids will know where things belong. It also means that we can give them a gentle reminder with a single word, such as 'Laundry,' or a quick question, 'Where does that belong?' instead of making them feel like we're nagging or yelling.
2. Create family rhythms
Not everyone is in favor of routines because they can feel too structured and inflexible.
That's why I like rhythms as a way to punctuate our day. Rhythms can still provide a form of organization and structure but can be a bit more fluid and flexible. Instead of family life feeling like one long list of too much to do, establish a few rhythms that create certainty and ease.
For example, the morning rhythm could be:
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Brush hair
- Pack bag
- Play (if there's time)
The arrive home from school rhythm:
- Take out lunch bag and notes from bag
- Put bag away
- Have snack
- Do homework
- Bath or shower
- Get into pajamas
- Brush teeth
Life with a baby, toddler or preschooler:
- Go out in the morning (activity, to the park, library, or to see a friend)
- Home for lunch
- Rest or sleep
- Play at home
- Pack up
- Storytime then sleep
Family rhythms can make life simpler because we don't need to think about what has to be done in the morning, after school or before bed because there's already an established pattern.
And with rhythms, your kids have a feeling of safety and security because they have a general sense of what's next. They also know that they can play in the morning once they're ready for school or they can get a snack after they've put away their toys or you'd love to read a story with them once they've brushed their teeth.
3. Enjoy family rituals
Family rituals are lovely repeated actions that are shared together as a family. They might be daily rituals, such as having a cuddle session before getting up for the day or talking about something good that happened that day over dinner, or reading a story in bed before sleep time.
They could be weekly rituals, such as every Friday after school, you stop at the cafe and talk about what happened that week, or every Sunday night discussing what everyone is looking forward to next week, or having a regular movie night with popcorn and ice cream.
They could be rituals that happen on special occasions, like every birthday going out for dinner at a certain place, or during the summer holidays, going to the beach.
Rituals create memories in our families. They help to create closer connections and help us to enjoy more magical family moments together.
4. Let go of what isn’t important
Even if you have a place for everything and you've created beautiful family rhythms and rituals, sometimes you just need to let go. (I know, it's hard, mama.)
Give yourselves and the kids a break. You can stop. Rest. Lower your standards. Overlook something that isn't *really* important.
You can recognize when everyone is tired and just needs to leave the house a mess for now. Or that everyone needs some downtime so you don't go out to that regular event. Or, get take-out tonight instead of someone having to cook.
It's okay to break your rhythms because everyone is tired or it can be done tomorrow. Sometimes what's most important right now is everyone finding their own ease and flow.
So what would you like to try?
- Is there something that is always lying around the house that you can find a home for?
- Is there a way that you can say a single word or ask a question instead of nagging for something to be put away?
- Can you create a rhythm together with your kids for the time of the day that feels most stressful?
- Can you try a new family rhythm and then review how it's going?
- Can you create a family ritual that is all about connecting and enjoying each other?
- Can you be more present and in the moment with a current ritual so you enjoy it more?
- Can you let go and open up space for everyone to find their own ease and flow?
Pick three things above to try out this week. Start a ritual, make a home for those items that stress you out, and give your family a little grace to find a flow that works for them.