Magical Mama Esther wrote recently and asked:
I would love to see you comment on being able to let things go. I regularly read your blog because I want more magic in our home. But I just can’t let the cleaning/organizing off of the front burner. I want my children to remember a fun, relaxed home, but I am afraid that they will mainly remember Mom always wanting the house to be clean. Any suggestions?
I’m not sure I’m the one to ask, as I tend to have the opposite problem. I am too good at letting the housework go while having fun! :)
Whether you’re trying to get more done, let more go, or otherwise change how you’re spending your time at home, here’s some things that can help:
- Make lists. Lists keep me on track for getting writing done, keeping up with housework, doing laundry, prepping meals and so on, but they also keep me on track with kid things. My lists almost always have entries like “One-on-one with Jack” and “Read to Alex.” Those items are just as important (or more so!) and putting them in writing helps us remember that.
- Start a record. When you know you’re recording the day-to-day things, it makes you a little more accountable. Find a way to start noting the special things you do in the day (or whatever else you’re working on improving). You can start blogging magical moments, check in on a parenting list, jot things down in a journal or even resolve to write at least one happy family memory on a daily calendar each day. Knowing that you’ll be checking in is a great reminder to fit that special time in.
- Talk to yourself as if you’ve already changed. I use this little trick on myself to get myself doing more housework sometimes. I’ll purposely repeat things in my head that I want to be true, such as “I just can’t pass a mess without cleaning it right away” or “When I’m antsy I always have to tidy something.” Neither of these are typically true in the least for me, but when I start to hear them in my head I do start to live by them! Say the things you want to be true often enough, and they will become a part of how you are. If you want to make more magical moments with your kids, some good thoughts to insert might be ones like, “Today’s too nice of a day to spend inside cleaning!” and “I can’t wait to do some silly crafts with the kids!”.
- Pretend your someday self is watching. Will you one day regret spending so much time on housework and missing out on those magical moments with the kids? Then get in the habit of seeing scenes from that far-from-now self who’d be beating you up for missing your chances. This is also a good way to get past annoyances a lot of the time. I often look at the present as if I’m looking back on it and see how I’d react, and the answer is laughter, patience or empathy far more often than it’s anger if I look at it with that distance. Some day, this moment will be a memory. What kind of a memory would you like it to be? What lesson will it have taught you or your children?
- Practice. Whether it’s being silly, tidying up or taking time to make things special, the more you do it the more naturally it comes. Never mind the times you didn’t do what you wished you had — every time you do is something to celebrate. And then do it again.
One of the wonderful things about parenting is that we get so many thousands of chances to do it right every day. Every minute is a new minute where we could do something fun, silly, messy, loving or special. Don’t focus on what’s missing, just fill the next minute with something wonderful.
What about you? If you have tricks to help you keep up with all that you want to, please add them in the comments!