There are so many reasons to use systems in your life, but my favorite has got to be SAVING MENTAL ENERGY.
Let’s face it: there is SO much to do in life that is NOT enjoyable. All of us have a lot of work in front of us managing a house, managing our job, and managing the people we love (whether that’s walking the dogs, watering the plants, or feeding the kids.)
All of that work is NOT enjoyable. I know that I love laundry, but it’s not everyone’s jam.
And I certainly HATE certain aspects of the work of life, like budgeting and cooking and cleaning and getting dressed in the morning.
Make your plan; Enjoy the ride
I’d much rather be doing a new puzzle with my girl or sitting in the backyard watching the chickens. Or taking a dance class or watching Netflix or SLEEPING (we could all use more sleep, I know).
I have a HUGE life full of tons of interests, and so does my daughter. That means our schedule is tight and we would be completely lost without ways to remember it.
So to maximize life, to squeeze all of the enjoyment of life, I like to systematize all the stuff that’s annoying and bask in the glory of the stuff I love.
I also really hate the consequences of being unorganized. Those are steep, right: missing a friend’s event or forgetting it was picture day (and memorializing that crazy toddler outfit forever), or not having the brain space to be completely prepared for your day at work.
Saving mental energy is the key to surviving parenting, this I know.
Check out this video about routines and systems:
Saving mental energy with an incentive chart
We have two rules at the door to our house: leave the backpack on the hook and put the shoes in the basket.
Just these two things have saved us lots of time looking for important things we need every day.
So these two things; hanging backpack and putting shoes in the basket-- these have been rules for 5 years. My daughter has done these routines her whole life.
But all of a sudden last month, things shifted.
She was throwing her backpack on the floor, keeping her shoes on and taking them off in weird places. We were spending 20 minutes in the morning looking for her things, and I more than once threatened to leave the house without her if she didn't just put on the shoes she CAN find and leave the house.
She was also refusing a fair amount of other routines in our house like brushing her teeth, washing her face, or putting on pajamas.
Reminding, cajoling, yelling. I hate all these things.
I created an incentive chart that helps clarify what the expectations are (there are just a few!) and give her something clear to track.
Also: it sets up a natural reward for doing the things. Instead of saying “put your shoes in the basket or you can’t watch your show!” and having it feel like a threat or a fuss, now I can just refer to the chart.
This is the secret, parents. You put up a chart and the chart is reality. The chart is a physical thing to refer to and it is a non-human reminder and a logical system that my child can follow without me having to be involved as the convincer-in-chief. Which is a role, frankly, I’m tired of.
So! Save your brain energy. Set up some systems that help you take the work out of life, and when those systems break down, try another system to reinforce!
If you want a copy of my routine chart, you can download it here.
Of course your little person probably has different routines they need incentivized. You can find clip art pictures yourself and drop them into the google doc.
Good luck managing everything that you’re managing, from the house to the job to the precious people in our lives. Hopefully, making some new routines can give you more mental energy for the good things in life like making that fort, relaxing on the porch, or talking to a friend on the phone.