We all experience times of stress in our day to day family life. This is completely normal. But family stress can be reduced by putting some practical habits in place. Family stress, when left unchecked, can eat away at our personal and family happiness. Here are four easy ways to reduce family stress.
1. Bring goals down to real life
I wrote about the importance of setting family goals see here if you have not read the post. But how do we bring these goals down to reality and begin to accomplish them? I plan on writing a post specifically about programming your week but for now it is important to turn you goals into smaller, bite sized, actionable items. A simple trick I use to break them down is to think of the action or actions that will bring you to the goal and then specify how long the action will take. So if your goal is to get fit, for example, your first action might be: Call the gym to schedule a time to visit and sign up (5 min Phone call). Break your goals down into as many small actionable items as you can. Bringing your goals down to real life will help to reduce your stress over not accomplishing your goals.
2. Weekly Planning chat
Another tool that my wife and I use is a weekly planning chat. Each week, typically on Sunday, we both pull out our iPhone and open up the calendar. We go through day by day and share what activities we have on the calendar and what things we need to prepare for those activities (babysitter, pick up supplies, etc). This has been very instrumental in helping us to put our fires while they are still sparks. We actually both look forward to this activity now. This has really reduced our family stress.
3. Proactively planning the weekends
As a family we really enjoy staying active and going on new adventures. We know that we only have one life to live and one chance to live so we want to make the most of it. We also will only have our children living with us for a short time. Either in our weekly planning chat or mid-week we like to plan the weekend. What are the chores and things that must be done (shopping, cleaning, etc) and what fun family activity would we like to do (take a hike, visit a museum, go to the city, etc). By being proactive with our weekend we maximize the sometimes short time we have with the family and also stave off last minute fire drills.
4. Learn to say no
Probably one of the most important things that we have had to learn is to say no. My wife and I tend to be very caring people and want to be involved but by over committing we create a lot of family stress. We have identified one or two things that we really want to be involved in and we make sure to create time for these activities and events. We also have gotten better at thanking people for inviting us but saying that we want to protect our family time. People really do get this and respect it.
Put these four tools to work in your family and watch the stress level come down dramatically!