Your home should be a place for calm, joy, and relaxation. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel just as stressed walking in their front door as they do arriving at work. There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, but one of the biggest is a tendency to stick to bad habits.
Most families don’t stumble onto the secret formula for a low stress home by chance; instead, they have to work at it, make compromises, and try different routines before they find the right answers.
To help you shortcut that process and enjoy your home life as much as possible, here are seven easy-to-follow tips for maintaining an (almost) stress-free living area:
#1: Try the 15 Minute Rule
If you feel bombarded from the first minute you walk in through the door, it’s going to be hard to look forward to the end of the day. Try instituting a “15-minute rule.” It works like this: barring an emergency, everyone in your family agrees not to badger, pester, or discuss problems with anyone in the family for the first 15 minutes they’ve been home (or until they are relaxed and situated).
#2: Keep a Written Schedule
Trying to figure out where other family members are (or where they’re supposed to be) can be extraordinarily stressful. Cell phones can help you keep track of spouses and kids, but a better default solution is to simply keep a written calendar with everyone’s planned activities and whereabouts. That way, you can look ahead to things like dinners, study time, and family activities without having to track everyone down one-by-one.
#3: Keep Better Hours
A lot of stress comes from simple fatigue and the hassles of constantly running late. If you find that these are chronic issues for you, or your family, try changing up your daily routine. Wake up 15 minutes earlier, go to bed before the late shows finish, and leave plenty of time for things like breakfast, dinner, and your daily commute.
#4: Create a Family Shopping List
Nobody likes making a last-minute run to the store, especially when it’s late, they’re tired, or the weather makes it a chore. Often, these kinds of trips can be avoided by keeping a large, ongoing shopping list in an easy-to-find place. As you run out of different things around the house, or think of something you need to get from the store, simply add it to the list. Build this habit up over a couple of weeks (while planning your family meals ahead of time) and you can all but eliminate emergency shopping trips.
#5: Write Down the Rules for Kids
Arguing with children brings its own special kind of stress. Kids have an easier time following the rules, and tend to argue about them less, when they are written down. There is a simple psychology to this – written rules are less flexible and open to interpretation, especially in young minds. So if you’re looking to establish new habits (like no video games until homework has been completed, or no dessert without eating your vegetables), write them down and post them in your house.
#6: Do Chores Together
Doing chores like laundry and cleaning tends to be more boring than stressful, but unfinished tasks can add to your feeling of stress if they build up over time. Make them more interesting, communal activities by getting everyone involved. Set aside family “chore times” for you to finish your work together, and consider rotating chores between spouses or family members once in a while so no one is permanently locked into a job they particularly dislike.
#7: Use the Power of Quiet Time
It’s very difficult to feel at peace, or sleep soundly, if it feels like you’re always moving on from one activity to the next. Try to set aside a few minutes a day – ideally something like half an hour before bed – where you read quietly in bed or talk with your loved ones. This one simple habit can improve your sleep, your relationships, and your stress level all at the same time.
If you feel stressed out at home, it’s going to affect your health, energy level, and even your performance at work. So don’t be afraid to give these seven ideas a try – they may just change the way you feel about your home life forever.