How to Create Calm in a Chaotic Day

Last week I talked about how to cut out some of the chaos in your life. At the end of the day, though, there will always be some chaos. As a parent, its unavoidable.

Still, there are ways to create calm even in the most chaotic day. What it comes down to is intentionality.

5 Tips for Creating Calm in Your Day:

Get up early

  • Getting up early is one of the best ways to start your day.
    • The first hour of your day establishes the direction for the rest of your day.
    • Dan Miller refers to it as The Rudder of The Day.
  • If your first hour is rushed and frantic, the rest of your day will be rushed and frantic.
  • Get some “me time” in before the kids get up or before you get ready for work.
  • Here are some great ways to start your morning:
    • NOT by grabbing your phone and checking email or social media first thing when your alarm goes off. In fact, leave that until at least 10:00 or so if possible.
    • Eat breakfast slowly in peace and quiet.
    • Journal, read, pray, meditate, etc.
    • Exercise—get your blood pumping first thing in the morning.

Be mindful of your screen use.

  • My most stressful moments are when I’m using my phone and my kids are fighting for my attention.
    • These are the times I snap—not because they’re misbehaving, but because they’re interrupting my agenda.
    • I’ve also found that my kids tend to seek my attention more or misbehave when I’m distracted by technology. They’re not dummies. Even babies.
  • Set specific times to check texts, emails, and social media.
    • If people always expect quick replies from you, you’ve made yourself too available.
      • If someone needs you that badly, they can call.
  • By making yourself less available to the outside world, you’re making yourself more available to the people and things that REALLY matter.

Actually take a lunch break

  • At work
    • Clock out and eat your lunch. Simple as that. Your work can wait another half hour.
  • At home
    • Sit down. Taste your food. Simple as that. Your housework can wait another half hour.

Unplug 1-2 hours before bed

  • Things are chaotic as it is with dinner and getting the kids to bed. Constantly being pulled back and forth between our kids and our phones is a recipe for frustration and meltdowns (for us and our kids).
  • So many of us are so tied to our phones that we’re checking them from the moment we wake up until the minute our head hits the pillow.
    • The only way I avoid melting my eyeballs at night is by plugging my phone in to charge in another room. I quickly glance as I set my alarm to see if I have any voicemails that might be urgent. Other than that, I don’t look at anything.
  • Unplugging applies to other technology, too. So close the laptop, turn off the TV, and put away the tablets.
  • Unplugging is critical to falling asleep and getting good sleep.
    • The backlit screens on your phone/computer/TV suppress your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
    • Screens=>suppressed melatonin production=>bad sleep.

Take some time to wind down before bed.

  • Establish a bedtime routine
  • Nighttime routines trigger melatonin production.
  • Routines=>increased melatonin production=>good sleep.

Some of these tips might seem impossible. As I said earlier, it’s about intentionality. A lot of things in life we think are unattainable really aren’t; we’re just not exercising the discipline and commitment it takes to get what we want.

Which of the above can you implement this week to help create calm in your day? Share in a comment below!

How to Cut Out Some of the Chaos

There’s no denying it. Life with an infant can be pretty chaotic.

The crying…the lack of sleep…the pooping…the doctors appointments…being halfway to your destination when you realize you left the diaper bag at home…forgetting the formula…spilling 15 ounces of breastmilk…spit up on your face…baby food splattered all over the floor…the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, and the countless Google searches because you’re convinced that the little spot on the back of your baby’s leg is the plague.

What if I told you you could cut out some of the chaos? (Whaaaaaaat??) 

Yep, it’s true!

Here are some tips for doing so:

Get help!

  • How much of your chaos comes from you trying to do it all?
  • You don’t have to be Supermom. (Please, don’t even strive for it. She’s really not that great).
  • No, things won’t always be done the way you want them to. You’re going to have to let go of control if you want anyone to help you.
  • If someone asks if you want help, take them up on their offer NOW.
  • Reach out to people! Even people you think don’t want to help. They might surprise you.

Say “no.”

  • Part of being Supermom is being a “yes” mom. Remember: don’t be Supermom. Don’t be a “yes” mom.
  • When you say yes to everyone else, you’re saying no to yourself.
  • Even when you say yes to good things for yourself, you’re usually saying “no” to better things for yourself. Say “yes” to the things that truly matter and that will fill your cup.

Strip things down to the bare necessities.

  • Write a list of what you do each day of the week in a typical week.
  • Which of these things do you LOVE doing?
  • Which of these things could you outsource? Could you find people to do those things for free? If not, could you put it in your budget to pay for those things? Just imagine – you could skip the Starbucks and hire someone to clean your house every week instead. Uhh…awesome, right?
  • Which of these things could you eliminate? COMPLETELY eliminate. Remember, don’t be a “yes” person.
  • Set the precedent when your kids are young that you refuse to live a life of constant chaos.

Create buffer time.

  • Do you feel like you’re constantly rushing from one thing to the next? Are you always late? Chances are, you’re living with an unrealistic idea of how time works when you have a baby. Just plan on everything taking twice as long as you think it should.
  • Set your departure time 15 minutes early (or even 30 minutes) whenever you’re going somewhere. If you leave right at your departure time, great! If not, you have that buffer time built in.

There is no magic wand to make your life less hectic. However, you do have more control than you think.

What can you do this week to cut out some of the chaos? Share in a comment below!

Are Your Friends TRUE Friends?

Think of a time if your life when you have felt completely and utterly overwhelmed. What did you do? Did you turn to things that were helpful or harmful? Did you turn to people who would simply tell you everything will be okay or people who would support you AND challenge you to move beyond where you are?

I recently felt pretty overwhelmed and lost, so I met with a friend at a park nearby. She was facing challenges similar to mine. As we each enjoyed two scoops of Graeter’s Buckeye Chocolate Chip ice cream (SO GOOD), we talked about what was going on. We shared what we were struggling with and what we were thinking about doing.

When I finished sharing, Melissa asked me a few questions. I didn’t like those questions. They challenged me and forced me to really dig deep and figure out exactly what direction I wanted to go in. She then recommended something that I had considered, but had kind of pushed to the back of my mind, afraid of where it might lead me. What Melissa pointed out though, was that the very thing that I was avoiding was the very thing that could bring forth a breakthrough in my life.

I trusted in a friend to challenge me, and I’m so glad she did.

Melissa isn’t a “yes friend.” As I grow in my life and business, I’m realizing how critical it is that I have friends that are more than “yes friends”—they’re true friends. Sure, sometimes I’ve felt that I just need someone to listen. But I’ve found that those are the times when I actually need a true friend to listen and then challenge me to move beyond where I am toward greater things.

This week, take a close look at your friendships. Are your friends true friends or are they “yes friends”? Might you need to shift focus and strengthen the relationships with your true friends?

Think of a time when you had a true friend really come through when you needed them most. How did they help you work through what you were struggling with? Share as a comment below!

I Took All My Daughter’s Toys Away…and She Didn’t Care.

I don’t remember exactly why I did it.

I think I may have said, “Margaret, if you don’t clean up your toys, I’m taking them all away.” (I don’t like taking things away as punishment, but I apparently wasn’t too patient that day). She said to me, “Take them away!” Begrudgingly, I began to pick up every little thing. I wasn’t thrilled about cleaning up her mess, but I had to follow through. (Okay, to be fair, I didn’t take ALL of her toys away. She still had her blocks, coloring books, and a few little trinkets).

As I began picking up her toys, she didn’t seem to care. Then I found her on the floor in her room, sobbing, “Don’t take my gym shoes away!!” That kid. I said to her, “Margaret, your shoes aren’t a toy. I’m not going to take them.” She continued to fuss for a bit, terrified that I would take her precious gym shoes away. It was adorable. No really, it was pretty cute. Of all things—gym shoes.

When Margaret finally comprehended that I wasn’t going to take her shoes, she set them down and began handing me her toys to take away. Not putting her toys away— giving them to me so I could take them away. “Here, Mama, take this.” “Mama! You forgot this one!” What??

So this was…over a month ago. I had tossed the toys into a toy bin and put it in my husband’s and my bedroom. I figured after a few days Margaret and I would have a little chat and then I’d give the toys back. But she hasn’t asked for them. Every once in a while when she comes into our bedroom she’ll see something and ask for it, so we’ll give it to her. But other than that, she doesn’t care. She probably doesn’t even remember what’s in there. I certainly don’t.

So what have I learned from this?

Even though we had already purged a lot of her toys, Margaret still had more than she “needed” (wanted). It kind of makes me want to just toss that whole bin without looking at what’s in it. Her blocks and coloring books are plenty to keep her perfectly happy. (Just kidding, Jeremy!). I’ll be putting some of it back, but definitely not all.

It has been amazing to see how my daughter’s interests and her play have changed since we cleared out a lot of her stuff a few months back and recently when we chose to stop watching TV. She is more active during the day and is more engaged with her brother (1 year). Her favorite thing to do is play in his crib with him. And he adores her. I love hearing the shrieks and giggles coming from his room.

I encourage you to take some time to evaluate all the “stuff” in your house. Do your kids really need all those toys? Books? Clothes?

If you’re ready to clear out and clean up, check out my course “Clear Your Kids Clutter: How to Ditch the Mess in 3 Hours or Less.” This course will get you results crazy fast. Click here to check out the promo video. Even if you have no intention of buying the course, go watch the video. Margaret is in it and it’s pretty stinking cute.

What are your thoughts? Do your kids have too much stuff? What’s one action step you can take to eliminate some of the clutter in your household?

How Are Your Actions Affecting Your Relationships?

Do you ever find yourself fuming over something your kids did, only to lash out at them with biting words and drastic punishments?

In these moments, it can be challenging to take a step back and see the situation for what it truly is. Chances are, it’s not that big of a deal.

We may get angry, but we can’t let our anger determine the severity of our punishments.

I frequently remind myself of the words of Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When you find yourself in a frustrating situation with your kids, ask yourself, “Is what I’m considering doing right now an appropriate response to their actions?”

Consider also how your reactions affect your relationships. If we are angry and hateful in response to our kids’ disobedience, what is that doing to our relationship? Are we “beating them into submission” at the expense of fostering a safe, loving, and secure relationship?

Let’s go back to Frankl’s words. We have the power to choose our response to any circumstance. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

Are you choosing responses that are growing your relationships with your kids and freeing you to be a kinder and more loving mama? Or are your responses crippling those relationships because you’ve become a slave to your emotions? Take some time this week to make use of the space between the stimuli of your life and your responses.

How do you handle your emotions in regards to your responses to your children’s behavior? Share in the comment section below!