You’ve made lists, tickled card boxes, posted yellow stickies, grouped tasks by A, B, C, filled in workbooks, made rosters, stuck things on the refrigerator.
But none of it sticks. Sure, for a week or two, or even a month, life becomes a bit more orderly.
But then, something happens at work, or one of the kids gets sick. And it’s back to tears before bedtime.
I wanted to provide a happy, supportive home for my kids. And I had to work full-time to do it. But the mornings were the worst. Even though I wanted them to go off to school bouncy, warm and well fed, there were way too many drive through breakfasts, and lunches that came out of a cellophane wrapper.
Not working was not an option. I don’t work, we don’t eat.
But I felt so useless. The moms at the school gate were always cool, groomed, and lunchbox friendly. Had I missed something obvious? Maybe I didn’t get the handout from the maternity ward.
So I was totally behind the play. And I desperately craved some peace. Some quiet. Some sense of harmony and flow. A little grace. Not to be shielding myself against the dishes on the benchtop, the grit in the carpet, and the fact I hadn’t flossed for a week.
But I felt that my children’s childhood was slipping away as I floundered to stay afloat. That I wasn’t swimming – just not drowning. Only surviving. Not creating a bank of happy memories and times for them to draw on.
Why was getting things done at work so easy, and getting them done at home so hard?
Clang. The penny dropped.
Things at work are easy because they have systems. And the system focuses on the most important things. And the system is neutral. It doesn’t judge, argue or get resentful. It just is. It’s like the ribs of a boat. A boat carries you on a journey. It can be a tiny dinghy or a superyacht.
But you decide what it looks like, and where you want to go. But a system gives you a skeleton, structure, the difference between a pile of sticks and some seal skin, and a slim, responsive vessel that slips through the waves, keeping everybody safe and dry and heading on an adventure.
So, how do you create a system for you? And for your family? One that fits you perfectly? Not one that’s bought and bolted on – bits hacked off, dangling uselessly because they’re redundant.
You make tiny, tiny changes. I mean it. Tiny. Minute.
But, they have huge results, because they move your ground state. And if your ground state is moved, then everything moves. Order and ease flow out in ripples from the new state. And because they’re tiny, and you take it easy, they stick. They last. They become the way your family does things.
I read many, many books. I did lots of courses. Pages of instructions how to organize my pantry, my wardrobe, my paperwork, my cleaning and my finances. These stuck for about a week.
The answer is not what you change. It’s how you change it. If you want to try this out for yourself and start tomorrow morning with more zest and fun, try this idea.
It looks so easy. As it is. And it makes all the difference in the world. I know how I feel about my life now. I wish I could go back to my younger self and show her this strategy. But I can show it to you. And if you feel more joy, more confidence as a mother – and your family has more fun – my job is done.