Practices, parties, school events, playdates, basketball games, family gatherings, date nights, girls nights, cheer competitions… the list goes on and on.
It seems like as the kids have gotten older, our 24 hours have magically become a lot more like 12… or sometimes, 6.
We’ve become those people who everyone starts conversations with “I know you’re probably busy, but…“– 6 simple words that can carry immense amounts of guilt when you are trying to do all the things– but the truth? Usually, they aren’t wrong.
(I can see some of you reading this, nodding your head, because this sounds like your life too)
Managing a calendar for 5 people? Juggling work and school and 2 competitive sports teams? We don’t have a lot of downtime and often, James and I have to “divide and conquer” just to get it all done. It’s not always ideal, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
Our days consist of some of the most amazing memory-making, sprinkled in with (sometimes laughable) chaos.
But as our days became fuller, it became clear to me that in order to fully soak up those memory-making moments, to not feel riddled with guilt with every “I know you’re probably busy, but…”, we needed to find ways to prioritize and simplify our days so that we could fully be in the moment.
Below are are a few self-imposed rules I have for helping our busy family focus on the things that matter most.
Keep loose routines
It’s no secret, we all thrive with a little structure. Now, admittedly when you’re a busy family on the go– often no two days look the same– so strict routines are not always possible. But loose routines? Loose routines are flexible structure.
In our house, when the kids come home from school, they have a quick snack and start on homework so that we don’t have to power through pages of math problems and studying, when they’re exhausted at the end of a busy day.
Showers and baths are always done right after dinner. Sometimes that’s 6pm, other times it’s 8pm– but it is always after dinner.
I find that these basic routines, though not cemented to an exact hour, still manage expectations and help avoid spending our time dealing with protests and long-winded negotiations.
Know What Works
With full days, it’s easier to focus on the important stuff when I recognize and stick to the things that simply put… “just work”.
For instance, dinner can be a challenge when you’re on the go (especially with picky eaters like mine) but there are at least 5-6 easy to prepare meals that I know everyone eats without a complaint. So I keep those ingredients on hand and put those meals on heavy rotation for my own sanity. Whoever invented Taco Tuesday is my hero!
The same can be said about day to day products we’ve come to trust and rely on.
Ivory Soap is a product that my family has used quite literally –for generations. My mother always had it in our showers when we were kids and today, with 3 kids of my own, I do the same. Being free of dyes and heavy perfumes, their products continue to be safe and gentle for the whole family. I never have to worry about dry, patchy skin or irritation (which my kids can be somewhat prone to)– so Ivory continues to be our go-to for a moisturizing and nourishing body wash.
This year, Ivory introduced a Free and Gentle Body Wash that we started using and it’s especially formulated to match your skin’s pH level (which is pretty awesome!) And while I am a die-hard lover of that classic Ivory clean scent that smells like my childhood, the new Ivory Free & Gentle Body Washes are made with essential oils that offer uncompromised skincare with a variety of pretty incredible scents like Pear and Sandalwood.
Identifying these day-to-day staples that you can rely on again and again means you don’t have to waste time overthinking simple daily tasks– which is a huge time-saver.
Learn The Power Of “No”
This is a big one. It’s easy to fall into the habit of trying to fit all the things into the day– but we all know from experience that when we do this, we almost always end up falling short somewhere.
When I was a “yes- person”, other people may have been happy but I was stressed out and just going through motions– until I learned the life-changing power of NO. Which by the way? You can 100% say unapologetically and with kindness– at the same time.
If something feels like unnecessary stress? NO.
If I feel like my plate literally cannot fit one more thing on it and/or that I may not be able to give something my all? NO.
If the hubby and I are over due for a date night because we’ve been over run by “divide and conquer parenting”? NO.
If it’s been days since the family has all sat down at the same dinner table together and we promised the kids a movie night? NO.
If I personally need a few hours to recharge from a full week and this might be the only chance I get? NO, NO, NO.
While I don’t believe that “no” is a complete sentence, it does require a little follow-up, it is also not negative word. It is a powerful word that can help you fully be present and focused on the things that matter most and that is definitely a positive.
The common thread of all 3 of these rules is this: simplify.
Each of them allow us to use less brain power stressing over things that don’t need to be stressful, which has resulted in us being a lot more present in all we do.
Tell me, what do you and your family do to help you focus on those big moments?
This post was written in partnership with Ivory.
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