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Today's Family Magazine

Take your family from chaotic to calm

Jun 25, 2019 11:45AM
By Emily Capuria
LISW-S, CHHC

These days stress is more the norm than an anomaly, and families are feeling it. From busy work and school days, to weekends packed with household chores, family commitments and extracurricular activities, families are being pulled in a million different directions.

So how do you keep up?  How do you meet all the busy demands of life?  How can you possibly do it all?

First - take a breath.  Second, cut yourself some slack!  There are only 24 hours in a day –– you can’t do every single thing (unless you have some secret super powers...or a clone).  So give yourself permission to stop spinning your wheels only to find yourself stuck once again with “too much to do and too little time.”

Stress is typically a combination of factors –– some things you can control and some you can’t.  All too often, people focus on the things they can’t control.  You can’t change time –– you may think you need 30 hours in a day, you’ve still only got 24.

So instead of focusing on the things you can’t control, which leaves you feeling stuck and overwhelmed, start to focus on the things that you actually can impact.

To get started with this, list out every single thing that triggers feelings of stress.  Is it a really busy weekend with zero down time?  Is it hours of fighting over homework after everyone’s had a long day?  Is it feeling like if you can’t get five minutes to yourself without someone asking you where something is (it’s literally right there)?

The more specific and detailed you are, the better.  When you’re clear on exactly what’s triggering your stress, you can start to see what it is you actually can change.

If your weekends are jam packed and you’re craving some down time with your family, establish a non-negotiable Sunday family brunch where you lounge in your pjs and eat waffles together.

“But there’s no time” you say.  That’s a sign that it’s actually time for you to survey which commitments are nonessential and start saying no to those things.
It’s okay to say no!

At first glance, this may feel hard because everything seems essential - which is why you’re saying yes to it all.  But be aware that it’s not.

To get clear on what actually is essential, take some time to first identify your family’s values and priorities.  To do this, brainstorm a list of all that’s important to you.  Think about how you want to be (i.e. happy, present, kind, loving) and what you want to do (i.e. time with friends, family cooking, outdoor activities, movie nights).  Make sure that each person in the family weighs in with what matters most to them.

Then go through the list you created, look for themes and come up with a family mantra that best represents your family as a whole.  Here are a few examples:
  • Be calm, cool and kind to yourself and to each other.
  • Today we choose connection, laughter and fun.
  • Be yourself.  You always belong here.
Under your mantra, list out specific examples (from your brainstorm) of what this looks like –– exploring outside, cooking together, bedtime reading, family crafting.  The more specific you are with your examples the better.  This list becomes the non-negotiables that you do your very best to say yes to, even when it means saying no to other also important things.

By creating a family mantra, you create a filter to run your daily activities through.  This lens helps you to look at things differently so you say yes to the activities that most support your family and no to those that don’t.

You can’t do every single thing, but you can do more of what matters to you, and to your family, the most. The more you enjoy the time you do have together the happier, and less stressed, everyone will be!

Emily Capuria, LISW-S, CHHC is the author of Happiness Happens, creator of the Laugh More, Live Louder course, and the founder of Balance & Thrive, a business that offers a holistic approach to achieving your goals and living a happy, fulfilling life. She’s also a speaker, life coach and mom. Learn more at balancethrive.com.