Take the time to reflect on the last hour, day, week, month. Is there a pattern? What can you stop doing, do less, do more? What do you enjoy doing? What do you not enjoy d­oing? How can we do more of what we love?
Thinking about my daily life, I took the hefty items out first. I sleep about 7 to 8 hours a night. I try to be in bed before 11.00pm, but with all good intentions it doesn’t always work out for me. The next large allotment is work, which takes a minimum of 5 hours but could reach….well the sky! Work includes what I do to make a living, but also paying bills, following up on accounts (i.e. banking, telephone, internet, and so forth), reading the school newsletter, completing field trip forms, registering my children into their various extra-curricular activities, oh dear…this list seems to never end. Being conservative I think it can easily take up 13 hours of my life.
Now onto my favourite. Cleaning. Yes, this gobbles up at least 2 hours of my life every day. For some reason, I find that I aimlessly travel back and forth – perhaps from the living room to my child’s room, to the laundry room to my child’s room, to the bathroom to my child’s room, to the kitchen to my child’s room, to the car to my child’s room…is there a pattern here? And I always find surprises, like a cup in the toilet. Let’s not paint the wrong picture, I am certainly a disciplinarian and my children certainly do clean up after themselves. But somehow their skills are limited to a 1 sqm of what is around them. Perhaps this will further develop with age.
I use to love cooking, particularly baking. I could bake for a whole day – banana bread, lemon cream pie, apple tarts, roast turkeys, carmelised carrots, whatever I fancied. But today, the menu is limited to banal everyday staples. Staples that can be, importantly, whipped up faster than a blink of an eye. It’s relatively the same thing everyday…chicken with vegetables, steak with vegetables, beef stir-fry, udon noodle soup, etc. It might sound exciting, but give it a month and you will see the menu repeating itself. With cooking, shopping and prep time this joyous chore easily sets me back 3 hours a day, not to mention I do prepare a hot breakfast and packed lunches.
So, where are we up to…18 hours, only 6 more hours remaining!
Now when did picking up and dropping off your kids take FOREVER! In the morning, sure it’s a little quicker…about 30 minutes’ door to door, but in the afternoon, it is impossible to leave the school yard. I enjoy a one-and-a-half-hour afternoon pick up, daily. Following this, no doubt every mum has after school activities…which means I have the grand opportunity to taxi my children around and wait and wait and wait….bye bye 2 hours.
I think that leaves me 2 hours to shower, use the toilet (but I have mastered holding this until necessary), maybe squeezing a moment in to rest my legs and perhaps heaven forbid catch up with a friend for coffee or call my mum.
For many years, I sacrificed sleep to get more time in. This meant I received about 5 hours a sleep a night. After a while I became very ill. So, this quickly became a non-negotiable. I tried to outsource cleaning, grocery delivery, becoming militaristic and having the children stick to a schedule. Everything got thrown out. The cleaners only completed a surface clean…but so much more cleaning is required, online grocery delivery is good for only select stores, and being overbearing and naggy makes for unhappy, unhealthy children.
Guess what! You can’t have it all. But what you can have a balanced life that suits you and your family. There is no such thing as a one answer fits all. Who cares what your neighbours are doing, or that super calm and cool mum at school! Whatever! She’s ripping her hair out too. What you can do is come up with a pattern, a life, a schedule that works for you and your children.
For me this meant, cleaning less (we’ll live with the sheets washed fortnightly rather than weekly, vacuuming every 4 days rather than every day – except the kitchen), delegating a lot to my husband (two can run a household better than one), and luckily as the children grow they become more self-sufficient. A biggy here, invest in wrinkle free clothing. I did…all my duvets are wrinkle free! No more ironing bed spreads.
Minimise. Having less in your house means less to clean. We don’t need cupboards full of toys that are never played with or 50 sets of towels. Having less also makes your house look and feel cleaner…quickly.
Joint activities, allowing your children to participate in the safe activity or at the same location makes everyone happy – less driving, less waiting time.
Certain things I had to do more of…and that was letting my children play before and after school. This use to be rushed and now I look like the calm mum walking to school, hanging out and taking her sweet time. This I figured out calmed my children before they started school each day, and after school they got to release their pent-up energy before coming home ready to eat and rest. This also gave me a chance to catch up with my friends, which made me much happier and calmer mum!
And now when we are at our after-school activities, why not fit in some exercise time. It’s a great opportunity to walk around and get moving.
To figure out what is important…try and not do it. See what happens. If life falls apart…well, then you must do it. If no one notices or it doesn’t have an adverse impact on your life or your family’s life, well then stop.
Whatever you haven’t used, looked at or by goodness you didn’t even know you had…perhaps it is time to donate it.
Feeling more in control has a tremendous impact on our overall well-being. And believe it or not, beauty is holistic. If we feel complete on the inside, we reflect greater beauty on the outside. So come on, start doing more of what you love.


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