Does this picture describe your happy home? The baby’s crying while you hurriedly put the fast food on the table, the dog is throwing up on the floor, the toddler’s got the TV on full-blast, and your teenager just angrily slammed the door on his way out.
Unfortunately, it’s a typical scene for many of us. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are, in fact, things you can do to ease this stress and create a more harmonious environment so that you and your family can look forward to coming home!
Although some degree of stress is inherent as you deal with the varying phases of your family members, if you strive to uphold a core set of values and go with the flow, you can maintain a happy and healthy home.
Here are some specific ways you can reduce stress at home.
Life can quickly become chaotic when you don’t maintain organization. An organized home runs smoothly, while an unorganized home leads to stress and lost time.
A good tip is to start small with your organization efforts. Start with one room or even a portion of a room. The idea is to think of it as a series of small projects instead of one overwhelmingly huge one.
It’s also important to remember that this organization should be what works for you. While many professional organizers say to leave your keys and purse by the front door, for example, if leaving them in your bedroom or on your kitchen counter works better for you, that’s what you should do.
You might also need to organize things in one way for one family member and in a completely different way for another family member. This is also okay. As long as it serves its purpose — making the house run smoothly and everyone is able to find what they need — that’s all that matters.
Your family will certainly benefit from actively working on communication skills. When you fail to communicate effectively, you may not get what you want and can even cause upsetting misunderstandings. Working on communication will allow all family members to feel loved and appreciated and help the household run efficiently.
Communication is several things. One is communicating about plans and schedules — letting each other know about doctor’s appointments, sports practices, and other such activities.
But another important piece of communication is communicating needs and desires. Being able to express a need for help with a household chore, for example, or a desire to make a change to how something is currently being handled.
The third piece of communication that matters is the ability to openly discuss issues and concerns. Each family member should be able to express hurt feelings, constructive feedback to others, and conflicts they’re having with another family member. This helps to avoid resentment and bigger problems.
Eat dinner together
Everyone in your family likely has a busy life of their own. It’s easy to suddenly realize that you have no idea what’s going on with your partner or child. When you make it a point to eat dinner together every night, you make time to connect with your family. You’ll learn how to work as one even with busy lifestyles.
This might mean you eat dinner at a different time each night to accommodate everyone’s schedules. It also might mean that some nights you eat fast or frozen food instead of a homecooked meal due to the time.
If you truly feel dinner isn’t an option every night, then try making breakfast your daily meal together. Prepare a healthy, homemade breakfast and take the time to sit down and eat it together. It will have the same effect, just at a different time of day.
Have fun together
It’s important to schedule time to have fun together as a family, even if these times can’t be as often as you’d like. Schedule family nights in advance and allow each family member a chance to pick that evening’s activity.
Try to schedule consistent family nights — once a week, if possible, or at least once a month. The consistency not only makes it a habit for the whole family but also ensures that no one misses it by making other plans.
If consistent family nights aren’t an option, take time at the beginning of each month to schedule those nights so everyone knows when they’ll happen and can avoid making other plans. Try to have at least one family night a month, even as your kids get older.
Be open to other options, too. Maybe you schedule a family day instead. Or a longer family weekend.
Show unconditional love
Be sure to practice the art of unconditional love with your family. This leads to secure attachments and will ultimately keep everyone in your family happy and stress-free.
Children and parents alike need to know that, when they make mistakes, they have a loving family that will back them up and forgive them.
Tell your kids often that you love them. When you must discipline them, begin and end with statements of love. Let them see you back them up when someone goes against them. Don’t correct them in front of others.
Go out of your way for your family members. It might not be an ideal Friday night to go to your daughter’s art show, but just think of how they’ll feel when they see that they have your love and support. Actively express your support by really being there for your family — no matter what. Just thinking about how much you love them is not enough!
Got to art shows, sports practices, recitals, and plays. Encourage them when they doubt themselves or want to give up. Be on their side no matter what.
Having a set of family rules will help with organization and allow everyone to know what’s expected of them. For single moms, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with and enforce family rules. You may have had them while you’re were married but some would have been ones your ex wanted and you might not have.
Schedule a family meeting to establish the house rules. Make sure everyone has a chance to participate and share his or her concerns. You’ll likely find a compromise that allows everyone to be happy.
Once the rules are created, write them down and post them in a highly visible space. This ensures no one can forget what the rules are.
Don’t forget the consequences of breaking a rule. It’s a good idea to create consequences in advance. This ensures you don’t go overboard in the heat of the moment, or offer unequal punishments when two or more children break the same rule at different times. It may also make someone think twice about breaking a rule when they know upfront what will happen.
A happy and stress-free home is one built on love. Don’t be too hard on yourself and others, and you’ll have the basis for creating an excellent home life.
Wendy Miller is a meditation teacher, single mom coach & writer. She helps moms use mindfulness, meditation & self-care to create a calm & happy life. She lives in Florida with her two sons and enough pets for a zoo.
Want more? You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
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