Making Home Life Work for Me, Not Against Me…i.e. Less Stressful

Posted by Stacey Brown Randall

From time to time people ask me if the productivity and time management coaching and training I do shows up at home. Well - of course - it does. I was asked to share some thoughts recently so here they are.

But first a short disclaimer…to put these ideas in perspective you need to understand a little about me. Lack of clutter and lots of organization are important to me. Always have been, always will be. I have two kids – 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter and my husband owns a restaurant which means his schedule isn’t always consistent, just a dynamic we live with.

My husband is on board with *most* of these and they work for us. That doesn’t mean they will work for you. But if you try them they may make your life less stressful.

Left Out Toys = Trash Can.

Yep – it’s harsh. I’m okay with that. Around 3 years old I started a rule with my son that any toy left out when he went to bed would be put into the trash can. Four or five matchbox cars later he caught on. I don’t have time or energy to clean up after two kids when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves. I like a clean and orderly house but not at the expense of doing it all myself. So my kids know – it you don’t clean up after yourself expect the toy to not be around in the morning.

Now when I tell folks this strategy I always get the question – why not recycle them? Two reasons…I didn’t think of that in the heat of the moment when I introduced the new rule a few years ago and following through on what you say is crucial for the lesson to stick. And second, there is something about the kids watching the toys be carried out in the white trash bag to be dropped into the big trash can outside to strike some fear. Judge me as you wish but I don’t spend my evenings cleaning up toys.

No School Day Screen Time.

This rule started out with the intent to protect their brains and encourage real play with creativity but what I found is that without the distraction or manufactured fun of technology my kids have learned how to entertain themselves. That means I hear less of “I’m bored, entertain me” (please note I didn’t say I hear none of, just less). TV, iPad and computer time is reserved for Friday nights and the weekends.

A Daily Load of Laundry.

I refuse to give up my weekends or nights to doing our weekly 8 to 12 loads of laundry. So I start one load when I wake up and by the time I leave for work the load is washed, dried and in the basket to put away…a job my husband and I share. Just one load a day keeps the laundry chore manageable.

Weeks’ Worth of Kids’ Outfits.

On Sunday my kids pick out their outfits for the week and hang them on the bottom rung of their closets. (Thanks elfa and Container Store for being my inspiration for the closet re-do.) Now this is super easy for my son because he goes to a uniform elementary school. For my daughter – not so much. But this eliminates the need for indecisiveness (my daughter), multiple outfit changes (my daughter again) and wasted time (mine) while we try to get ready for our day. On a really good night I’ll lay out my outfit for the next day too. (A week’s worth…please who are we kidding).

Nightly Wind Down.

Once the kids are in bed I like to drink a cup of SleepyTime tea and sit in a quiet room. Sometimes my husband and I catch up during this time but mostly it is just a moment of peace that allows my brain to rest before I head to bed. Those quiet moments provide me with an opportunity to exert control over and thankfulness for my world.

I have other strategies I deploy that mainly center around routines (like run the dishwasher at night and empty it in the morning) and expectations (book bags are hung in one place only) all with the idea to create less chaos, less stress and more joy. I’m not perfect and sometimes we not only fall of the rails, we down right crash into the river. But we know how to right ourselves and get back on track so the “to dos” of daily life don’t steal all of our time from what really matters…spending time together.

I’d love to know some of your tips, strategies and routines that help you exert control at home or at work. Please share!

Here’s to you becoming your best productive self!


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