As adults, we know that there will be days when things go wrong. The bus is late, the kids are naughty, you spill your coffee, the dog vomits on the carpet and so on. Knowing this and accepting that these days (or nights) will occur is part of life. But we can protect ourselves from further challenges by being prepared. Not prepared to fail, but prepared to be successful even when things are not going so well.
And the key? Being organised.
Yes, I know being organised doesn’t sound very sexy, appealing or innovative. Yet, planning and preparing ahead can mean you free up a lot of head space to be able to do more fun activities. And that is appealing!
As parents and as people in general, we love when everything just 'works'. At these times the household runs smoothly, we are feeling capable and competent and the kids are happy. But it’s okay to admit that does not happen all the time.
Be prepared - a way to be kind to yourself in times of transition
So often we think of planning and preparing as something we do either to avoid things going wrong, or to ensure things go right. But planning and preparing can also be a loving way we can be kind to ourselves. Being kind to ourselves is something nearly every parent I speak to struggles with, especially during times of transition.
When we are experiencing changes in our lives, completing the smallest of daily tasks can feel like a herculean effort.
I understand that.
Whether it be experiencing loss and grief, or the changes that come with new parenthood, a new job or promotion, returning to study, or moving house; all these transition times can give us a feeling of upheaval and alter our normal habits. Actions and activities that we once took for granted and performed daily without thought, are now decision-making minefields and we feel exhausted just knowing that, let alone actually making them.
At these times, planning and preparation come into their own.
One of the best gifts you can give yourself is being prepared.
Be prepared - not just for when things go wrong
Planning and preparation needn’t only be for times of transition or for when things go wrong; it can also be beneficial when times are busy. Things may not be going wrong, but certainly, a little assistance would not go astray. You know the times; when your paid work is demanding a lot of extra time and energy, the kids need you, your partner is travelling for work, the babysitter is sick, and so on.
You can be kind to yourself in this space. You can be kind to your future self – by getting ready for those times when you know you will be feeling too exhausted, busy or overwhelmed for the usual routine.
It is at these times when we need to choose wisely where we expend our energy. It's when you’ve had a tough day, and are too tired for your usual routine, that your planning and organisation will come to the rescue.
Some quick tips to be prepared;
- Have meals planned and prepared. (Make ahead meals in the freezer, or easy quick meals in the pantry, or both).
- DVDs or kids favourite shows ready for them to watch at a moment’s notice. (Netflix is good for this and /or a stash of DVD's borrowed from your local library). This is especially great for those afternoons when it is too cold/ wet/ hot for outdoor play, or when you are all feeling the need for a little quiet time.
- Activities to keep children busy and happily occupied, whether it be;
- for younger children building with blocks, colouring in, or playing with their toys that don’t need your immediate engagement or supervision, or,
- for older children (limited) playing on devices, board or card games, reading books etc.
- For yourself, have a collection of DVD's, music, magazines, books or whatever else you need to unwind and be kind to yourself - so you can give yourself a break too.
Preparation and pre-work can help when you need to be kind to yourself. Instead of pushing through or falling in a heap of exhaustion, you have some 'plan B' items, activities and/or meals ready. You will thank yourself for being organised!
In this way, planning, preparing and being organised can be a gift to your future self to make those days when it all feels a bit hard, still go smoothly and easily.
It's the best gift you can give yourself - an act of kindness for yourself.
And we can all benefit from a little more kindness.
Seeking more days of ease and less overwhelm?
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