I was not so bold as to include highly effective in the title, because I am one of those parents who admits I do not have all the answers. That said these habits make my life significantly easier. When I first read Stephen Covey’s 7 habits many years ago, it was great my life was all about work. I was a go getting graduate who was, and still is proactive, I had the end in mind, put myself in the other person’s shoes to understand first, thought to win and all the rest.
What life has taught me is that life is a lot more than work and to be effective I need 7 other habits. I am not one person in work and another at home, and my work and life merges.
1. Get Up Early
I get up at 5.30 – 6.00 so that I can get ready before the kids, and practice yoga. This gives me energy, focus and health to complete the day.
2. Put my Health First
Although, the decisions are family first, if a person doesn’t have their health they cannot be there for the family. It’s important to concentrate on insuring happiness and health.
3. Put the Family at the Forefront of Decisions
Whether a person is working or not and running a family, there are always those decisions that need to be made. Every household is different, and the key is it has to work for the household. Think win-win does not necessarily come into it. It may not be possible for both people to progress in their career. One person may have to take a step back as the other takes a step forward to make sure that the overall family balance is a happy one.
4. Keep a Little You
It’s important to keep a little you. I worked 100% with my first daughter, and when my son came my office closed. However, I am still completing my doctorate and hope to go back to work fulltime in a family friendly company. I have other friends that still keep up their interests and or talents: writing, running, yoga and even find a channel to change careers.
5. Multi Task
At nursery or school pick up time everything happens at once from feed, play, bath and bed. The ability to multi task and not get stressed is essential.
6. Understand Food
It’s not necessary to be a cooking goddess, but the ability to pull together a nutritious meal in 15 minutes is needed. It keeps the family healthy, and understanding food means that there is less food to waste, as well as saving money. The left overs can be reused into a left over pie, slightly old fruit can be chucked into a smoothie or crumble, and fish can be gutted and scraped to make fish cakes from scratch for a economical but nutritious meal.
7. Story Teller
Language is a key enabler to communication, to learn more. The capability to bring ‘Tinkerbell,’ ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ to life is integral to an important life skill.
8. Talent Finder and Grower
The ability to tune into what children love and support them in it even if that means hovering up billions of bits of playdoh, constantly being hands deep in paint and using architecture skills to build a Wendy house from boxes, paint and felt.
There seems to be too much left to teachers in schools. There is still a role to play at home not just reading, maths and understating the world but also values and behaviour.
10. Adaptable and Learn
The truth is mothers have to adapt to situations all the time, and may even create new habits. A mother makes mistakes, giggles sometimes because if they don’t find it funny they may just cry. The important thing is they learn from it, and realise they are not perfect and will never be. A mother may have to create a new habit to accommodate the needs of their child, because every child is different; but special.