How to Step Off of a Hamster Wheel

October 14, 2015, Epoch Times

12 Easy Steps to Start Your Family’s Day Right

hamster

It has happened to the best of us. In the midst of juggling our obligations and the schedules of our kids and spouses, life can get away from us pretty quickly. Perhaps for a day … a week … a month …

There’s too much to do, too little time, and we seem to be residing perpetually behind the eight ball.

Like a house of cards, once one thing slips, others soon follow. We reach for our yoga pants uniform, showering becomes less frequent than we’d prefer to admit, patience runs thin, we implore everyone around us to “hurry up,” meals are, (shall we say) fast, we pray nobody shows up to our messy house unannounced, the stacks of unaddressed papers rise, the email count grows, we wonder if we’re meeting all of our appointments, and ideas of relaxation and fun have been postponed indefinitely.

 Hoo Mama! When life feels like this, it’s time to stop, breathe, and reset.

Being the master of ceremonies for your family’s life doesn’t have to feel like a hectic ride on the hamster wheel. With a little forethought and preparation, we can take back the reins and actually enjoy the ride.

Stop

If you’re running ragged, stop. Just stop. Cancel your plans. Cancel your kids’ plans. Renegotiate your obligations. Turn off your computer.

It’ll be ok, really.

It’s time to give yourself a break, a buffer, time. If you really can’t take today “off,” schedule the day you will. Put it on your calendar. Give yourself a break.

Breathe

Once you’re there, relish your day off. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Slow down. Get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Move your body. Read. Think. Reset.

Envision

At some point in the day, allow yourself to imagine what the ideal day would look like for you and your family. What would you do? Where would you be? How would you feel? Grab a pen and paper and start to envision the details of this day, from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, describing with as much detail as possible the scenery, the smells, the sights, and  the feelings. What would bring your family the most fulfillment and joy? Enjoy the process. Picture it in your mind. Keep your paper in a prominent place to review and revise in the future.

Prepare

Before the day comes to an end, set in motion a new habit for yourself of nighttime preparation for the day ahead.

Ready tomorrow’s meals today. Make lunches. Program the coffee maker. Set out breakfast dishes. Prepare ingredients for dinner. Best bet: set up your slow cooker.

If the kids will head to school, have their clothes and backpacks ready to go. Set out your clothes as well as any bags or items you’ll need during the next day.

Make a List

Review your calendar and make a list of the three (no more) most important things to do tomorrow. Ask yourself what three things would make tomorrow a great day if you got them done. These are your priorities for the day ahead.

Settle the Kids Into Bed

Establish (or re-establish) a soothing, consistent nighttime routine with your kids.

Ensure a predictable and consistent series of events that signifies bedtime for your kids. This may include showers or baths, brushing teeth, reading together, tucking in, playing soft music, talking about your favorite parts of the day, talking about what you’re grateful for, meditation, prayer, and so on. This is a time to be soft, unhurried, and full of love and comfort.

Clean Up

Give yourself the gift of waking up in a tidy space. Leave no dishes in the sink, no clothes hanging about, no counters unwiped. Take care of it tonight and your morning will go much more smoothly.

Shut Down

Shut down your devices and plug them in away from your bed. If you enjoy reading in bed, read real books and not backlit screens that can hamper your sleep.

Give Thanks

Whether through a journal or just in your head, take time to feel gratitude for your day and your life. Make this a nightly practice.

Go to Bed on Time

Allow yourself plenty of sleep in advance of your morning alarm.

Wake Up Early

Set your alarm so that you’ll wake up before the rest of your family, allowing yourself time to spend how you wish rather than launching right into catering to everyone else’s needs.

Be Kind to Yourself

You’ve prepared and now the day has begun. You’ve woken up feeling ahead of the game. Now, do the best you can with whatever the day brings. Try to stay present and enjoy your day. Focus on your three priorities. If all else fails, know that you’ve got great nighttime habits in place and that tomorrow is another day.

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