Think Clearly: Finding Balance

By Jenny Steadman, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Cleveland East & North Akron March 15, 2021

When the season changes, everything changes. There are the obvious things like swapping out winter coats for raincoats and sweaters for t-shirts. After-school activities change, which means rearranging schedules which can be a tough adjustment for everyone in the family. It is lighter in the evening so it is harder to get the kids to bed, and then the time springs ahead just to add an extra challenge.

I know these changes tend to turn (relative) order into chaos in our house. The rain boots and snow boots are out, the raincoats and snow pants are in piles together and we get out the spring dresses, but can't put the winter clothes away yet. (I try to love Northeast Ohio weather, I really do.) Spring chess club has started, so we need to alter our Taekwon-do schedule, and all the kids really want to do is play on the playground after school. It's a never-ending battle of finding balance.

So what do I do? I embrace it. And I don't just mean with the kids. I let the temporary chaos happen at home, figure out an after-school schedule that is truly manageable, and be sure to have at least one, if not two, days when the kids can play with their friends on the playground. How do I get all of these things done, you ask? Here are some tactics that work for me:

It starts with you. Find ways to center and calm yourself and everything else falls into place.

  • Get a good night's sleep. This means at least 7 hours. Shoot for 8.
  • Claim the morning as your time. Get up 20-30 minutes before the rest of your household. Do what you want with it, but make it yours.
  • Don't work all day. Every 30-45 minutes, do something for you. This could be as simple as going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water. If you want to take it a step further, take a few deep breaths, do a small meditation and/or an exercise/stretch.
  • Get fresh air. This could be as simple as opening windows, but you could also step outside. Don't have time to walk around the block? Step outside to look at Facebook!
  • Speaking of Facebook, try a digital detox. When you are outside, be outside, not online. Breathe in the fresh air; it's therapy for your lungs.
  • Snack smart. By sticking to fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods during the day, you will have more energy and a much better mood when it's time to pick the kids up from school.

Now onto your family. When you feel centered and calmed, it's easier to make priorities for your family.

  • Look at your schedule realistically when signing kids (and yourself) up for extra activities. Is it possible to get Johnny to soccer practice on time while still getting Jane to t-ball? Are there other parents and carpools that could help you out?
  • Make sure there is time for extra play... and I don't mean more extracurriculars. If I don't leave afternoons empty for playground time and playdates, my kids go crazy. They love unstructured time and spur-of-the-moment fun with friends. Trust me, it works for you too!
  • Eat one meal together every day. The family table brings joy to everyone. Whether it is breakfast or dinner, make sure the family connects. Having this time together every day helps everyone - especially young kids - be less needy because they know they have dedicated time with you.

Get more great tips for a happy, healthy family by visiting our Family Wellness edition and subscribing to the monthly newsletter!