Embrace the Chaos and Live for the Moment - at least sometimes...
April 20th, 2011
There is a popular Youtube clip in which a comedian puts all her instructions to her kids for the day into 2 minutes, sung to the William Tell Overture as the 'William Tell Overture Mom' . It has an alrmingly familiarity. It is so easy to end up standing in the hall of the house shouting instructions at all who happen to pass, and optimistically to those who haven’t even got out of bed yet…
Are we micromanaging our children's lives, getting stressed out keeping all the balls in the air, directing our families like the conductor of a poorly trained orchestra? A constant stream of directions and commands which get tuned out and no time left for fun. They won’t remember you fondly for your shiny kitchen surfaces or how well ironed their clothes were…Sometimes as parents we need to decide on priorities & let a few things slip – think “It can wait till later” or pass more responsibility to the kids (good for them and for you too!). This will inevitably involve more chaos, tables set with cutlery back to front and Cheerios ground into the floor – whatever. Whose problem is it? Sometimes we need to be able to live with them making a mess, not doing it ‘right’ or exactly as you like it, in order to start to hand over some responsibility. Think of them as ‘in training’ if it helps you feel more tolerant!  
As a parent and colleague wrote recently, “Having tried various strategies on the rest of the family, I have had to concede that, sadly, not everyone likes their surroundings as minimalist and tidy as I do. As the children rapidly grow older (my eldest has only 4 years left at home till uni), I have started to change my perspective. Soon I will have a very tidy house, but an emptier one. So I have decided I would rather have the clutter than a pristine house with no life/children in it; in my own funny sort of way, I am able to kind of 'enjoy' the clutter for what it is now.”
In a blog by Paul Nyhan titled, “Work-Family balance is a joke”, he points out that “There is no sweet spot of work and family and soccer and violin and date nights that will leave every member of the family happy and energized at all times. The best you can hope for is to embrace the chaos and live for the moment.” 

You CAN Choose what to focus on and what to ignore  - how often do we say, “I can clear it later” and sit down and have fun instead.

Enjoy a bit of chaos sometimes…
  • ·         Remember they grow up all too quickly – you can have a tidy house in a few years time (and even sometimes in between). Your child probably won’t still be putting his trousers on back to front when he leaves school.

  • ·         Learn to step over minor irritating things.
  • ·         Don’t do everything for them, get them to help. Even if making their own sandwiches ends up with mayo everywhere (they gain confidence and it might save time in the long-run).
  • ·         Be flexible. Jools Oliver likes to be very organised during the week, but at the week end hands the reins over to Jamie – good food & chaos but she doesn’t battle to change the way he does things as he engages with the kids and they have fun together.

As Nyhan says, you cannot possibly “win” the balance game. “How do we redefine "balance" to move expectations more in line with reality? I figure if I can put two kids to bed happy, sleep seven hours or so, maintain a kitchen floor clear of major obstacles and keep my bosses happy, I'm ahead of the curve. How about you -- is anyone seeking perfection, or is good-enough enough?”
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