One more week and the kids will be back to school. I talked about ways to help them cope here. This week, I’m talking about how Mammas can ease the transition for ourselves back into the school year. It all comes down to systems.
Let me fill you in on my relationship with systems; until a year ago, I had none. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. I hate schedules and love spontaneity. Pre-kids, this was workable. With three kids, deciding what to make for dinner at 5:30 doesn’t work so well. Last autumn I was struggling with how to manage the demands for my time as a therapist with the demands for my time as a mom (not to mention as a partner, or “me” time). I met with my friend Trish Kraus, the brilliant holistic nutritionist and she tipped me off to the world of online business (which I really didn’t know existed). This was a perfect solution for me – it provided a way to broaden my reach and teach more people about the skills we all need to make relationships succeed (including the relationship with ourselves). I could balance that with my time 1:1 in office, and the demands of my personal life. What I learned is that in order to run a successful online business (in addition to my beloved therapy practice at The Nook), I need to have systems in place.
These systems help me keep track of e-mail correspondence, speaking engagements, newsletters and trainings, blogging, billing and time management. The genius behind all of these systems is the lovely & skilled Kelly Azevedo of She’s Got Systems. My business runs smoothly & it’s organized. I’m up to date and don’t let things fall through the cracks. At home, it’s a different story….
Just the other day as I was rushing out the door to the office I looked around my messy kitchen and thought, “something’s got to change”. I began to reflect on why work ticks along smoothly, but in my personal life I often feel like I’m juggling 564 balls & 560 of them are about to drop.
How can I be organized at work, but not at home?! This doesn’t make sense.
I cleared the emotions out of the way and tried to see things clearly, looking for solutions. It didn’t take long to figure this out: the things in my personal life that are going well have systems, the things that I seem to struggle to stay on top of don’t have systems.
All mammas know we suffer from decision fatigue, meals, activities, social events, birthdays, holidays … the list is endless. We hold The List in our head like Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in I Don’t Know How She Does It.
As I struggled with my own list, I stumbled across Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. It’s all about how to form habits and when an action becomes a habit, we can cross it off our to do list. We don’t put “brush teeth/ wash face” on our list, because it’s already a habit, something that is ingrained and we do automatically. With a habit (or a system) in place, we can cross items off the list in our heads.
Around January I did integrate some systems and I was astounded by how much easier it made my life. When the kids barrel in the door after school, they know they need to empty their lunch boxes and put them in the pantry. School forms go in the schoolwork drawer in the kitchen. No more fumbling and fighting over whose day it is to unload the dishwasher, there’s a system for that. Other systems that I’ve integrated include planning the menu Sunday nights (love this pad from mom agenda) and sticking to it through the week. There’s no more stressing at 5:30 of “what’s for dinner” or discovering we don’t have groceries to make lunches. I remain, in my heart, a spontaneous fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal. I’d still rather board a surprise flight to an unknown destination than follow systems. I’m no Martha Stewart (and never will be) and my kids’ lunches aren't adorable origami shapes. But I have to admit; having systems is saving my sanity and creates a happier, more harmonious household.
As back to school approaches, take some time to think about systems you could create. Please drop me a line to let me know what systems work for you in your home – I need all the help I can get.