Ok, we’ve all had them. When from the start of it, the day is trashed. If it started with a plan, that plan has either sailed or crashed. Nothing you do is good enough and little attitudes aren’t cooperating. For these days you need a list of core values. These are the things you value most and when all else come splashing down (you know the ones, mess after mess getting the best of you) they still stand. Once you figure these out it will also help to take the pressure off of you when days are less than ideal.
My core values are Quality Time * Minimal Stress * Good Food. Quality time means many things to me. First and most importantly it means everyone is heard. If someone is having a particularly hard day, everything else will shift so we can listen and talk for as long as needed. This may be at the grocery store, it may be at home, but where ever I want my kids and husband to always know they are more important than ticking off boxes or fulfilling tasks. A successful day is one where everyone knows and feels deeply that they are loved unconditionally. This isn’t always easy, I am a list maker and checker by nature. I enjoy a nice productive day like any other list freak out there. But I try to live my life by my beliefs more than my natural tendencies. This means stopping in the middle of doing dishes to listen, not finishing the laundry to redirect emotions, and canceling school sometimes for family time.
Minimizing stress sounds a little strange to be on a core value list so let me explain. Stress is not good for us, even in small amounts. Pressure is good and challenges equally so, but stress should not be confused with these potentially character building moments. Stress tends to alter my choices and certainly alters the tone of my voice if you know what I mean. I don’t like it. So if something is becoming stressful, even for instance the school day, I will look at it and see if I can refocus to change it. It may mean we stop circle time mid way and hit the park. We may just decide to destroy the bedroom and build the most magical tent ever while munching throughout the day instead of having well balanced and planned meals. Hey who doesn’t feel loved in a towering cushy tent with bowls of tzatziki, carrots and soaked biscuits all around!?
By good food I mean good for you. Real food, not processed, not an out of a box meal. It isn’t hard to eat well if planning is happening. However it is even easier when there are clear boundaries in the family. For instance we don’t keep snack-y packaged foods and unhealthy drinks around. So the sneaky and hungry kids can only resort to the likes of blueberries and celery for munch-y schemes. We also don’t do fast food. We just don’t. It is not an option. So in the event we are out and about longer than expected and we all need refueling there is always a grocery store nearby. Cheese and fruit does well in a pinch. Some nights dinner just isn’t happening the way I planned or envisioned. In these desperate moments look no further than the old stand by of rice and beans. I swear, the simpler my meals get the more the kids love them! What is up with that? I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes so simple isn’t always on the menu but it is nice to know that if its beans and rice tonight no one is going to complain.
Once these types of values are etched in your mind they become second nature and when the grumbles roll in you know just what you are willing to let slide and just what you aren’t. Believe me this is more freeing than it is restricting.