5 Tips for Happier Homes
You wake up running. Feed children, get them dressed, fed, and out the door in less time than it takes other people to get out of bed. You work all day, pick up the kiddos before you come home, and somehow miraculously feed your family before sending them to bed. Sometimes you even add more to your day with activities, grocery shopping, or working out. You’re exhausted, need your kiddos’ cooperation, and can’t figure out where on earth your glasses went.
I’ve been that mama a few times, even when I was a stay at home mom I felt that way, but add in work commitments as well and it can easily overwhelm anyone.
As a work at home, going to school, homeschooling and out of home schooling, mama to four kiddos I’ve learned a thing or two about balance and self care. But this isn’t about me. Not today. This is about you and helping you find time to connect with your children, partner, and self even while you work and parent.
Something that works for me, doesn’t necessarily work for you. Knowing that I invite you to take what works and leave the rest. That’s okay. Heaven knows you don’t have time or energy to to add anything that’s less than important. Without further ado, let’s get on with a few tips to help bring you some extra peace, sanity, and deepen the connection within your family.
1. It’s Okay to Say No…Or Yes
As parents we want to say yes as much as possible. Which means when we say ‘No’ we often feel sad, angry, guilty, or any combination of negative emotions. Here’s the truth: No matter what style of parenting you’ve adopted, saying ‘No’ isn’t the problem. It’s okay to say no.
How you respond is so much more important than what you actually say.
If possible, before responding, take a deep breath and answer sweetly at the very least answer calmly. When we answer a child’s request in harsh tones filled with anger or frustration, that translates to our children that they aren’t important to us. Or that there’s something wrong with them as people.
When we answer calmly, they may not be happy with our answer, but they aren’t hurt by it.
It’s not your job to make your child happy. It’s your job to keep them alive and not to break them. That’s really it. But anger can be very damaging to our children. The better we’re able to keep our tones calm and inviting, the easier it is for them to do what we want.
2. Time Together Matters
We all want the best for our children, but that doesn’t mean they need to be in half a dozen activities. In fact younger children often do better with fewer structured activities. Extra curricular activities can be so much fun, but shuttling kiddos from one activity to another can wear on the most energetic parent. Add in cost and loss aversion and suddenly parents put more importance on attendance than keeping things light, fun, and engaging.
Time spent together is time to love each other and deepen the family connections. Having at least 15 minutes of undivided attention per kiddo is vital to a healthy parent-child relationship. I’d really recommend more, but if you’re able to use time spent doing other activities as time to connect, then a mere 15 minutes of one-on-one effective connection time is all it takes to keep your kiddos happy and your relationship strong.
3. Make Time For Fun
Ryan works more than full-time hours outside the home, I work/go to school full-time from home, plus shuttle kiddos to several different after schools activities, and homeschool two of our children. The biggest key to doing this successfully is making sure we do something fun every day. This may be 15 minutes of karaoke or having a kitchen party for 10 minutes, or taking kiddos swimming for 2 hours on the weekend.
Even super short activities have massive impact when it’s totally fun and happens often. Pair this with time for each individual child once a week and everyone feels loved and cared for.
4. Read a Book – or Workout
Or take a bath, or… Whether you’re reading, running, or relaxing doesn’t matter, what matters is that you create time and space to take care of yourself. This time and space needs to be sacred. Though it takes time to get to sacredness, it’s worth it!
When I was creating this space I started with 5 minutes. I told the kiddos I was taking time for myself and no one was supposed to interrupt me unless it was an emergency (if there’s another parent in the house, ask for their help to create this space for yourself). Over time I was able to increase the length of time I spent on myself. Now I’m able to attend school online and work from home while homeschooling and staying connected.
Before I take my time alone I make sure I’ve dealt with likely needs. I have a snack ready for kiddos, water in glasses, given them ideas for things they can do on their own, and let them know I’ll be back shortly to help with anything else they need. Then I set a timer for myself and a separate timer for them. The timer I set for myself is for the length of time I told them, the timer for them is 2 minutes longer. I definitely do not want to be interrupted early (unless there’s blood shed).
5. Go on a Date
It took us years to realize how important this part of the equation was. Ryan and I spend time together, but we often don’t create a ‘special’ time together. After kiddos are in bed, we watch a movie, play video or board games together, but this isn’t enough.
Dates can be those things, they don’t need to be outside the home, but they need to be special.
When you were dating, you each took time to get ready. You didn’t just watch a movie, you talked to each other, looked at each other, and turned a simple movie into an event.
As busy working parents, this is huge! What you do doesn’t matter, it’s how you do it. Create something special out of the time you spend together, get to know each other. Ask open ended questions (“Tell me about the project you’re working on right now. What are you most excited about?”)
Go Easy On Yourself
These are only five small tips that’ll help bring more happiness to your home, I’d love to hear what some of the many other ways we can bring happiness to our homes. Comment below with some of your own ideas!
And remember to go easy on yourself if you have a rough moment or a bad day. One day, even a whole year, does not make up a lifetime. There’s almost always time to fix anything that goes wrong.