Woman with familyGood grief, Charlie Brown! Families are running around like crazy–and it’s chaotic, to say the least. Here’s my question: Is this what you want your children, nieces, nephews, parents, and friends to remember about any time spent with you, i.e., that it’s chaotic and crazy?  Hmmm….I think not.

So, here are some ideas for putting in pockets for your friends and family.

  1. If your children or other members of your family are involved in an organized sport, limit it to one per person per season. This may be met with joy or with something else…but think of the long term benefit of having pockets in place.
  1. Have one day or evening a week that is “off limits” for anything scheduled, at all.
  1. The “off limits” day refers to you, too. No kidding. You need some protected pockets to keep chaos at bay.
  1. Too many families are using all their pockets for screen time (TV, video games, movie rentals, computer, etc.) and should consider instituting limits. Start with an “ASO” time (“All Screens Off”) by a certain hour or until a certain hour.
  1. Cooking together is cheap entertainment. You’ve got to eat, and even the smallest children can help with some element of the meal.
  1. Create traditions. These can be as silly or serious as you like, but maintain them year after year.
  1. Don’t bring all your “work talk” to the dinner table. Talk about current events, happy activities, or listen to pleasant music. Re-hashing a battle you’ve had at the office isn’t likely to produce much calm in your home-life.
  1. Have frank discussions with friends and family about what it “looks,” “feels,” or “sounds” like when you and they are out of pockets (or getting close). And talk about how you and they want to be notified of this. For example, my dad used to say, “At ease, Meg, Meg.” That was his way of telling me that I was nearing the edge. My former assistant, Sue (who is also my good friend) and I have agreed that it’s OK for me to say to her, “It’s not worth a headache,” if it seems that she is getting too ramped up about something. Think about what would work for you.
  1. Prioritize the people you want to spend time with. You may set priorities within your family (e.g., you decide it’s more important for you to spend time with your daughter than your cousin) and you may set priorities among your friends (e.g., Friend A is a higher priority friend than Friend B). Then, schedule time to be with the higher priority family and/or friends. (Remember, I warned you at the beginning of the Keeping Chaos at Bay series that these weren’t all easy to do.).
  1. Define what pockets look and feel like for you, as far as your relationships and time with friends and family. Let people know and find out what it looks and feels like for them. You might be surprised.

Pockets help keep the chaos at bay. That’s what you want isn’t it?

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And if you liked these tips, feel free to check out Putting Pockets in Your Personal Life: 52 Tips to Implement Immediately. If you know you are operating without any “pockets,” and you realize that you have lost sight of the difference between calm and crazed, then this booklet will help you regain that realization and subsequently DO something about it.

Inside, you’ll find practical ideas to implement, letting you actually choose to put in pockets in your personal life (i.e., some protected space, both the physical and metaphorical). With these 52 tips in-hand, and you’ll be well on your way to greater peace of mind and productivity.