WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
“There’s just so much going on and I feel like I’m being pulled in twenty different directions. I need a break, and we’ve only just finished with the school holidays.”
Speak to any parent, and the start of the 2022 school year has hit them with a bang regardless of whether the kids had an extra few weeks off or not. Extra-curricular activities have begun, emails from the school fly in thick and fast and for the 75% of Australian parents (single or coupled) in the workforce, a return to full time, unfettered work simply signals a return to long days minus your schooling-at-home hat. We all seem to be treading cautiously back to life pre-Covid, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty for the future is a given. Throw in the needs of a few children, work and, heaven forbid, some sort of social life, and the pressure is real. None of us are perfect, but there are some steps we can take to ensure our crazy busy parenting selves don’t explode at the slightest lost hat or missed bus.
Here are our best tips on taking the crazy busy out of parenting…
1. Organise your digital life.
If your email Inbox says 999+ emails, you need a serious clean up. Start by creating folders for important correspondence (like school) and use filters to send emails directly to them. Then you won’t spend half an hour frantically looking for that ‘one’ email.
2. Masterplan your MasterChef
We get it- it’s boring, but meal planning is a fabulous way of taking a large chunk of stress out of your day. Ever stood at the doors of the supermarket, staring in and wondering what you have at home, what you had last night and what you feel like eating tonight? Meal plans take all of that stress away, along with those time-consuming meanders through the supermarket.
3. Go with the flow
You can’t control everything. Having some flexibility in what happens when will save you oodles of stress, something MyFirstGym has addressed specifically for the month of March through offering all our 6 month memberships for the price of our flexible memberships. This way, you can relax knowing that should Covid shut our worlds down again, you aren’t losing out on activities or money.
4. Declutter your home.
Some of us ate sourdough throughout the pandemic; some of us shopped online, a lot. Decluttering your home of stuff you don’t use or is just standing around means less to clean or clean around and creates more space. Sell it online, have a garage sale or drop it at the nearest charity store: just get it out of the house.
5. The Family Calendar
When everyone knows what they’re doing and where they are supposed to be on any given day, your parenting addled brain can rest a little easier. In a central space (e.g., the kitchen) use either a weekly or monthly calendar and write in who’s doing what, where and when. Even a static weekly timetable can help the kids organise themselves and remind you of what’s happening.
6. Simplify the family schedule.
You don’t have do it all. Nor do kids have to do five activities a week in five different locations and times with five separate sets of expensive fees. MyFirstGym was created as a solution to this very problem! And another often forgotten fact: kids actually enjoy having free time (and free play!), just like us.
7. Put out the SOS.
When it all gets a bit much, ask for help. Rideshare with other families. Say yes to that offer of some time off while the kids are occupied safely elsewhere (Date Nights are a real thing at MyFirstGym).
8. Good vibes only.
This is a big one. When we focus on negative aspects of our day, we become more and more negative. Stop watching or reading the news so much. Excuse yourself from unhelpful or pessimistic conversations. Instead, find one positive or encouraging aspect or moment of your day, and then another and another. You’ll be surprised how quickly your mood improves. It will also help you deal with things when they do go pear-shaped. Don’t forget, exercise is also a great way to boost your energy and mood.
9. Family rules.
Creating clear, consistent rules everyone in the family must follow makes for a calmer household. It could be as simple as lining our shoes up neatly at the front door, or replacing an empty toilet roll immediately. It’s surprising how quickly this decreases yelling in the house (especially of the frantic kind in regards to the toilet paper).
10. Batch your tasks.
Bake a bulk tray of muffins and store them in the freezer for an easy school lunch snack. Write a shopping list and go just once a week, rather than small shops every other day. Only read and respond to emails between 9 and 11am. By completing bulk tasks, you will feel more focussed and like you’ve achieved more- because you have!
11. Social media sucks.
Scrolling mindlessly through social media is not only a complete time-waster, it is proven to disrupt your sleep, increase anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Limit your social media use to a certain (brief) time period for a happier mind and soul.
12. Put those minions to work.
Children of all ages can complete tasks around the home. From unpacking the dishwasher, to dusting shelves, taking out the rubbish or simply tidying up the coffee table, there is a time-saving task for every child. It also promotes a sense of accomplishment, independence and self-worth.
13. Prep work makes the teamwork
Here’s an example of how preparation can change your life… I used to yell so loud at my kids to, ‘Hurry up and pack your lunch we’re going to BE LATE!!’ that the neighbour’s kids jumped to attention. Now, with a little prep work (and having the kids involved) the night before, our mornings are much smoother. Make the lunches, pack the bags, fill the water bottles, consult the timetable and layout the right uniform THE NIGHT BEFORE. It’s a game-changer.
Parenting AND remaining calm in a world that is so turbulent at the moment is difficult. But assisting our children to cope with this volatility is helped when we can maintain a ‘normal’ lifestyle and structure around school and sports. MyFirstGym is a one-stop shop, filled with passionate coaches overseeing safe, exciting and movement inspired activities to keep them healthy and improve their fitness skills. There’s no better way to ease your parenting load than becoming part of the MFG family.