Finding peace in a single parent family life is definitely not my forte. Yet in my desperate search for it, here are some ideas that put me on the right path:
1) STOP RESPONDING IMMEDIATELY. Stop thinking you have to respond to people immediately. A delay is okay. Our communication can be delivered instantly, but that does not mean we have to be “online” constantly. Also, if you do not respond immediately, people will likely understand and not expect you to, but if you almost always do, then in times you don’t, it creates fear in that other person that something might be wrong.
2) STOP SHOPPING. Buyer Beware: shopping is the new breathing! Is it just me or does it seem we shop so much more now?! It seems everyday I have a grocery list or “other” list between things the kids, the house, or I “need.” Buying these things has become a task and as a result, I race to keep up with my shopping list as one of my accomplishments. The result: I spend way too much money and time on shopping. I don’t even like shopping!
Somehow I have fallen prey to our consumer culture of feeling I should have everything I need or want as soon as it pops in my head. This is partially due to online shopping which has made shopping so accessible and instantly gratifying in our culture. I think the other aspect is since it has become task-like we often don’t even take the time to think about it because we are just too busy.
It is only in having a tighter budget that I realized the less I shop, the more peace I earn. Granted, when the kids’ shoes are falling apart, I do have to buy them new shoes. This is not an all or nothing suggestion. It is an awareness that shopping any more than necessary can be a pitfall on the path to peace.
3) READ EVERY SINGLE DAY. It may seem counterintuitive that adding something to your daily to-do list could give you more peace. However, this has definitely brought more peace in my life. I made this a part of my self-care routine after reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson who recommends reading 10 pages of a good book every day. I love to read, but never could seem to find the time. Since I made it a priority, I learned that it helps me feel in control of my day, cared for and mentally focused. The added focus helps make space for peace to grow elsewhere.
4) SCHEDULE “INSTANT COMMUNICATION” TIME. This includes all social media, text messaging and personal email. Instead of trying to abstain from social media, focus on what you will allow into your life. Set aside specific times in your calendar. The important part is not when or how much, but to schedule it and be consistent. Remember that if someone sends you a message or email that is truly urgent, they will call you. By controlling when you allow it in your routine, you prevent it from robbing you of peace elsewhere in your day.
Also, be aware of the natural tendency to distract ourselves with these types of communication. As discussed in Brief by Joe McCormack, we often are the ones responsible for our own distraction as a subconscious way to break from a more challenging mental task.
When we blame the systems of “instant communication” we give away our power to those systems. By accepting responsibility for allowing and actually at times seeking the distraction, we take back our power. When I feel the temptation to check social media I stop and think about why and if I have time scheduled for it elsewhere, it is easier to instead stay on task with my work or take an ACTUAL break and go for a walk or do something that brings me real peace.
In search of peace,
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