From Frazzled to Focused – a guest blog by Rivka Caroline

Rivka Caroline next to the APDO banner

Rivka Caroline is a Miami-based Professional Organiser and Mum to 7 (yes 7!) children. She is a big believer that it is so much easier being organised than disorganised when parenting. 

Rivka explains the highlights of what she has learnt in decades of parenting. 

In my opinion, having a family is a fabulous long term investment, however as a veteran Mum I can firmly attest that there are some times when I was one temper tantrum (mine not theirs) away from putting myself in time out. 

Behind every sunny photo of a smiley, shiny, coordinated family are way more photos of runny noses, last minute school projects, failed dinners and late night google searches of "how to not ruin my child". 

I want to encourage you all to go back to basics to create sensible systems that will support you at home in your parenting endeavours. 

There's no such thing as a normal family


Parents I meet often share secret fears that their home is the most disorganised or their children the least well fed. There seems to be a secret conspiracy in the sleep deprived brains of parents that they are ‘less than’. I try and support them in any way I can to reassure them they are doing some things really well and help create simple systems for the other areas. I back this up with research from prominent family researcher, Froma Walsh, that there are no normal families. To add to the challenges coming at us, there are also challenges to our parenting from within. Contrary to what instagram would want you to believe, no one actually has a perfect life. With the lack of the nuclear family, the rise of special needs children, the breakdown of marriages, the challenges we weave into our private lives are real. To quote  Froma Walsh, "Us researchers tried to find a normal family to base our research on but alas we couldn’t find one."

Helplessness leads to hopelessness


To retain my own personal sanity I have combined my 25 years of psychological study with my home ‘lab’ of child rearing to hone in on my personal ‘aha’ moments of nature vs nurture and what corners can be cut without long term ramifications!


Here is my one liner: too much stuff,  too many decisions, too much responsibility leads to helplessness leading to hopelessness.

What do the researchers say?


Dr Barry Schwartz :The Paradox of Choice  : The more choices we have the more chance there is of paralysis by analysis. Bring more sanity into your life by creating systems to minimise decision making and when you do have to make a choice give yourself only 2.



Dr Mikael S : The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Everyone needs flow in their lives - a hobby, job or moment when time stands still and you are truly in the moment. When parents take time for what they love, they are filling up their ‘flow’ tank and will be happier, calmer, less reactive parents and vice versa.

Dr Martin Seligman :  Chronic cases of negative thinking about ourselves, our homes and what we do can lead to learned helplessness which mimics biological depression. The good news is that optimism can also be learned and it’s not hard and extremely rewarding. Learned optimism is done by consciously challenging any negative self talk.

 


Living life with true focus is not easy


For most people and especially parents, living a focused life is a full time up stream vocation. The changes in the challenges we face since the invention of the iPhone are real. 


Disrupting the industry of busy


In my opinion it’s not about keeping up, it’s about disrupting the industry of ‘busy’ and going back to basics. It means running the mechanics of our homes like stable businesses with smart systems that can be fixed and forgotten. Most families yearn for the old style predictability of stable home life and old school parenting but don’t know how to ‘actionise’ it.

10 predictable and boring systems families need


  1. 1
    Meal plans
  2. 2
    Shopping plans
  3. 3
    Laundry plans
  4. 4
    A morning plan
  5. 5
    A clear and clean home plan
  6. 6
    Away for children can communicate homework deadlines
  7. 7
    A way for children to communicate necessary school supplies
  8. 8
    Parent CEO time
  9. 9
    Evening schedule
  10. 10
    Quality time with children

It's good to follow these basic principles to create some level or order. But be prepared to embrace the chaos too - a home with children playing is never going to be minimal or tranquil!


Rivka Caroline is a UK native, now living and working with her family in Miami, Florida. You can find out more about Rivka at her website, or on Twitter and Facebook and if you'd like to hear more from Rivka, she explains her 10 Predictable and Boring Systems that families need as a guest on our podcast. Rivka has also written her book From Frazzled to Focused.

  • Sherbertlemontiger says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. When listening to the part about meal plans, my takeaway was, don’t strive for perfection, start simply with 3 meals your family loves. The whole episode was engaging and thought provoking. Thank you.

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